Alcohol and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Here's what you should know about drinking alcohol with a diabetes diagnosis.
Here's what you should know about drinking alcohol with a diabetes diagnosis.
Here's what you should know about drinking alcohol with a diabetes diagnosis.
b l o g

Alcohol and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Here's what you should know about drinking alcohol with a diabetes diagnosis.

Share This Post:

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on print
Share on email

If you’re living with diabetes, drinking alcohol can seem like a daunting prospect.

What will alcohol do to my blood sugars? How will I be able to manage my drinks? A ton of questions may come to mind.

But it’s important to remember that you can still enjoy a drink or two – in moderation – as long as you take some precautions.

In this article, we’ll discuss how alcohol can affect blood sugar levels, and give you some tips for drinking safely and responsibly with diabetes.

Hey! A quick note before you start reading!

I’m Mila Clarke, The Hangry Woman! I help people like myself living with diabetes find our strength and feel less shame and loneliness, so we can face diabetes head-on without fear, or judgment.

I do this via YouTube videos, and diabetes-friendly recipes, support, and encouragement, so join my channel or click here to subscribe to my mailing list, or become a member of my Patreon for exclusive content and perks.

What happens if you drink alcohol when you have diabetes?

hand-drawn illustration of an alcoholic drink with ice and a lime wedge

It’s all about the liver.

Between meals and while you sleep, the liver makes new glucose and then sends this sugar into the bloodstream as a way to regulate your body and prevent or slow down a low blood sugar reaction.

When you drink, the alcohol disrupts the process.

Substances form when alcohol breaks down in the liver. and those substances block the liver from making new glucose.

Blood sugars fall and you can quickly experience hypoglycemia.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t drink at all, but it’s really important to drink in an environment where you feel safe, with others who know what to do just in case your hypos are severe.

There is also a difference in outcomes for blood glucose depending on whether you’re fasting, or you’ve eaten.

Studies show for people with type 2 diabetes who’ve eaten prior to consuming alcohol fasting blood sugar levels of those who drank were significantly higher than those who did not.

On later days, no significant differences in fasting blood sugar levels existed between the two groups of diabetics.

If you were fasting prior to drinking, you may experience hypoglycemia, but also a delayed glucose recovery from hypoglycemia.

This means that after an episode of hypoglycemia, glucose levels return to normal more slowly after drinking.

How much can you drink when you have diabetes?

The ADA recommends no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men.

That “drink” smaller than expected: just five ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or one and a half ounces of 80-proof spirits.

A daily cocktail or two may improve blood sugar (blood glucose) management and insulin sensitivity. If you have one or more drinks a day, you may find that your A1C is lower than during times you weren’t drinking.

It’s important to consult your doctor if you’re thinking about consuming alcohol.

Why is it dangerous to drink alcohol and take some diabetes medications?

Many diabetes medications promote hypoglycemia.

Drinking alcohol on top of drugs that cause low blood sugar can be extremely dangerous because drinking slows down the absorption of foods and sugars.

Alcohol also affects your judgment and makes it much easier to make poor health decisions like eating sugary snacks or drinking more alcohol.

The combination may produce drinking too much or drinking while feeling sleepy, which put you at risk of hypoglycemia symptoms such as confusion and dizziness, seizures, depression, severe headaches, rapid heart rate and coma.

When should I test my blood sugar after drinking alcohol?

Drinking can affect your blood sugar for up to 12 hours according to Hopkins Medicine.

It’s advised to test your blood sugars prior to drinking and before going to bed. If it is in the 100 – 140 mg/dL range, you may be fine. If it is lower, eat a snack to raise it, so it doesn’t dip lower while you sleep.

If possible, having a Continuous Glucose Monitor with alarms on can be helpful, so that the alarms wake you if your blood sugar is going low. You can also have someone stay with you

The bottom line on drinking alcohol with diabetes

When drinking alcohol, people with diabetes should be aware of how it will affect their blood sugar.

Alcohol blocks the liver from making new glucose, leading to a drop in blood sugar levels.

It’s important to drink in an environment where you feel safe, with others who know what to do just in case your hypos are severe.

Additionally, drinking can have an effect on blood sugar for up to 12 hours. Before drinking, it’s advised to test blood sugars and keep tabs.

More tips on living with diabetes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Mila Clarke sits on a couch and smiles at camera

Hi! I'm Mila.

I’m a millennial living with LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Type 1 diabetes) I love food, travel, and my kitchen!

Hangry Woman is for anyone with diabetes – regardless of type.

I’m here to help you live your best life possible diabetes by showing you how to create simple, blood-sugar friendly and delicious meals. Plus, you get video cooking demos, essays on life with diabetes, and lots of weekly joy.

More to Dish

blood sugar check and avocado collage

The shame and stigma of type 2 diabetes

All Diabetes Awareness Month long, I’ve agonized over what I wanted to say, or what I wanted to spread awareness about. I’m constantly talking about …

Read More →

Avocado Tomatillo Salsa (Avocado Salsa Verde)

This avocado tomatillo salsa is a spicy and delicious dip for chips, or a delicious topping for chicken, shrimp or other protein.

Read More →

What is Keto Coffee and how do you make it?

Ever since I started the Keto diet, there’s one thing that keeps me completely satiated and it has shocked me. It’s Keto Coffee, and it’s …

Read More →
More to love

another serving

Before you go...
Support by becoming a patron

You can also join my mailing list – it’s free, and helps support the blog.

You can become a direct supporter of my work on Patreon, which helps me research, test, and develop recipes and diabetes articles.

In return, you’ll receive some perks like exclusive content, early access to recipes (without ads) handwritten postcards from me, and shoutouts in videos.

Healthy, tasty foods!

Sign up for good-for-you recipes!

Secured By miniOrange