Most people with diabetes can safely drink whiskey in moderation. As long as they do not have another medical condition.
Alcohol dependence can be very dangerous for diabetics, as the complications of one condition can intensify the other.
It is important that people monitor how whiskey makes them feel and stop drinking immediately if they feel weak or dizzy.
This article explains the relationship between whiskey and diabetes and provides some other drinking tips for people with this condition.
Related: Best Low-Carb Cocktails for Diabetics
Can Diabetics Drink Whiskey?
Is whiskey safe for people with diabetes?
You should only drink whiskey when your blood sugar is well controlled.
People with diabetes can drink whiskey in moderation. However, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor about your alcohol consumption. Especially if you are taking medications.
For diabetics, drinking whiskey and other alcoholic beverages should be done in conjunction with a healthy diet.
People with a history of alcohol use disorder should contact a physician to reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption.
Is whiskey high in sugar?
Straight distilled spirits like whiskey (including bourbon and rye) have a lower sugar content than any other alcoholic drinks.
True bourbon—without flavorings or sweeteners—contains a low sugar content.
The USDA nutrition facts for whiskey register less than 1.5 grams of sugar per 5 ounce serving.
Whiskey is a low calorie alcoholic drink.
A 1-oz serving of whiskey contains about 70 calories.
Drinking several glasses of whiskey each day can increase the number of calories a person consumes, potentially leading to weight gain.
Weight gain may increase the risk of diabetes complications.
There is evidence that long-term alcohol consumption correlates with a higher risk of diabetes complications.
It can also cause dangerously low blood sugar and harmful acids to build up in the blood.
Alcohol and blood sugar
Avoid drinking alcohol if your blood sugars are uncontrolled.
Whiskey and other alcohols may increase the risk of dangerously low blood sugar.
The risk of low glucose (alcohol-related) is higher when you:
- drink on an empty stomach
- replace a meal with alcohol
- take diabetes medication or insulin
- drink to excess
It takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours for your liver to break down alcohol from one drink. Low blood glucose persists until the body metabolizes the alcohol.
Drinking Tips for Diabetics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following drinking tips for people with diabetes:
- Avoiding drinking on an empty stomach
- Eat food with your alcohol
- Avoiding drinking if blood glucose is not well-controlled
- Avoid drinking if you have a history of negative reactions to alcohol
- Stop drinking after 1-2 drinks
- Don’t exercise while drinking. Exercise lowers blood sugar.
Emergency assistance is required if the person experiences symptoms of low blood glucose, such as fainting.
The Best Alcoholic Drinks for Diabetics
Here are the most appropriate alcoholic drinks for people with diabetes, based on carbohydrate content.
Straight Distilled spirits
Distilled spirits contain few to no carbs.
- Whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila, or rum: Contain 0 grams of carbs per 1.5-ounce.
There is a potential for hypoglycemia due to your liver not being able to maintain basal blood sugar levels while metabolizing alcohol. This can cause dangerously low blood sugar — especially if you drink on an empty stomach
Avoid mixing with sugary juices, soda, or garnishes. This can cause blood sugar levels to spike and subsequently dip to dangerously low levels.
Champagne & Wine
- Dry Champagne: Brut and extra-brut champagne have less than 1.7 grams and 0.8 grams of carbs, respectively, per 5 ounce serving.
- Red wine: Contains only 3.8 grams of carbs per 5 ounce serving.
- White wine: Provides only 3.8 grams of carbs per 5 ounce serving.
Low carb beer is a better option for people with diabetes who want to enjoy an occasional cold brew.
- Miller Lite: Provides only 3.2 grams of carbs in a standard 12 ounce serving.
- Coors Light: Contains just 5 grams of carbs per 12 ounce serving.
- Bud Lite: Has fewer than 5 grams of carbs per 12 ounce serving.
Drinks that People with Diabetes Should Avoid
While there are some diabetes-friendly cocktails, most cocktails are mixed with juices, sodas, syrups, and/or garnishes that add sugar.
Diabetics should avoid cocktails with added sugars such as:
- Margaritas, piña coladas, and daiquiris
- Dessert wines, such as vermouth, port, and sherry, are high in carbs
- Cream liqueurs such as Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kahlua
Important tips: Do not drink on an empty stomach. Avoid drinking with low blood sugar. Monitor your blood sugar before, during, and after drinking.
Which alcohol has the least amount of sugar?
Hard spirits like whiskey, vodka, rum, and gin have the least amount of sugar, but watch your mixer.
Red or a dry white wine is also a good option. Beer can be low sugar, but high in calories.
Which whiskey has no sugar?
Straight whiskey has no additives or flavorings. Spirits that carry the “straight” moniker should be sugar free.
Does whiskey or bourbon have more sugar?
Bourbon tends to be sweeter, and typically has a higher sugar content than whiskey. However, the sugar content of whiskey is unlikely to significantly affect a person’s sugar intake in most cases.
Why is whiskey bourbon so sweet?
Most bourbons have some sweetness, however some are sweeter than other.
This is due to the aging process in new charred oak barrels. This process releases caramel and vanilla flavors.
Is bourbon keto-friendly?
Straight spirits like bourbon and whiskey have zero carbs. However, bourbon has calories which comes from alcohol. A 1.5-ounce shot of bourbon contains 0 grams of carbs and approximately 97 calories.
Related: 30 Best Keto Alcoholic Drinks