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Alcohol and Diabetes

Date Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019

Alcohol reduces blood sugar

Most people with diabetes can safely drink alcohol in moderation, which means an occasional drink or two.  Alcohol reduces blood glucose levels.  It's important to remember that drinking on an empty stomach may cause low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.  This is particularly a risk for people using oral medications or insulin. 

Never drink on an empty stomach

Always eat something if you are going to drink an alcoholic beverage.  If you use carbohydrate counting to plan meals, understand how the drink(s) you choose affect your blood glucose.  Your insulin dose may need to be decreased if you're having more than one drink.   

One drink is considered: 

  • 12 ounces beer 
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 5 ounces of hard liquor

Carbohydrates per serving

** Craft beer sometimes have twice the alcohol and calories as a light beer.

** Choose diet soda or seltzer and sparkling water rather than high calorie mixers, to keep your calorie consumption as low as possible.   


The following list of popular St. Patrick's Day beverages, adapted from DiabeticGourmet.com, shows the amount of carbohydrates per serving in various beer, wines and spirits:

Beer (12 oz. bottle)

Lite Beer

5 grams of carbs

Regular Beer

12 g

Dark Beer

up to 25 g

16 oz. Guinness Draft Pint

17 g

Green Beer 
(usually just regular beer colored green)

12 g

Guinness Draught  

9.8 g

Guinness Extra Stout  

14 g

Guinness Black Lager  

11 g

Killian's Irish Red Amber Lager 

14 g

Smithwick's Irish Ale  

15 g

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

17 g

Murphy's Irish Stout  

13 g

Irish Coffee (standard serving)

8 g 

Irish Cream and Coffee (standard serving)

8 g

Wines and Spirits (5 oz. serving)

12 oz. Wine Cooler

up to 30 grams of carbs

White Wine

4 g

Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio

3 g

White Zinfandel Wine

4 g

Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Semillon

5 g

Dry Red Wine

3 to 4 g

Sweet/Dessert Wine

12 to 20 g

Liqueurs like Amaretto and Kahlua

17 grams per oz.

Sambuca, Cointreau &
Bailey's Irish Cream

5 to 7 grams per oz.

Vodka, Rum, Gin, Tequila, Scotch, Brandy, Cognac & Whisky 

0 grams per oz.

Southern Comfort

3 grams per oz. 

Mixed Drinks (per serving)

Unsweetened vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whiskey, scotch, brandy, and cognac have zero carbs. When added to a zero-carb mixer, such as diet cola, you end up with a zero-carb drink.

Gin & Tonic 

15 grams of carbs

Rum & Regular Cola 

15 g

Rum & Diet Cola 

0 g

Black Russian 

16 g

Bloody Mary

5 g

Fuzzy Navel

38 g

Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri

44 g

Kamikaze

15 g

Long Island Iced Tea 

10 g

Manhattan 

2 g

Margarita (Classic) 

11-25 g

Margarita (Frozen) 

12-96 g

Mint Julep 

8 g

Old Fashioned 

5 g

Martini 

0-1 g

Mojito 

25 g

Pina Colada 

30-50 g

Seabreeze 

20 g

Screwdriver (vodka & OJ)

19 g

Sloe Gin Fizz

3 g

Tequila Sunrise

15 g

Tom Collins
Per Serving

3 g

White Russian

16 g

Shots or Shooters (per serving) 

Shots or shooters are usually about 1½ ounces per serving. Here are the carbohydrates for some commonly served shooters.

Alabama Slammer 

8 grams of carbs

Amaretto Sour 

19 g

Fuzzy Navel 

19 g

Jager Bomb 

14 g

Jello Shots 

3-4 g

Kamikaze 

19 g

Mud Slide 

19 g

Gin, Rum, Tequila, Whiskey, Vodka 

0 g

Snake Bite 

1-2 g

Southern Comfort 

3 g

Irish Coffee (standard serving)

8 g 

Irish Cream and Coffee (standard serving)

8 g