It’s no secret that people have been enjoying the added opportunity to partake in, shall we say, “adult beverages” during this whole pandemic thing. I’ve jumped on that bandwagon myself, allowing my repressed inner teenager who never got to enjoy a drunken evening out with friends in his youth to indulge a bit as I generally have nowhere to go, nothing to do and no reason to worry, should I find myself a touch over the legal limit.
So acceptable has become the hobby of enjoying a daytime drunk, that most Provincial governments have elected not to close licensed premises for fear that the alcohol withdrawals will cause an overabundance of strain on the health care system. And this is probably accurate, if we’re being true and honest. But I’m not here to discuss the pros and cons of alcohol consumption or its continued sale throughout the pandemic. I’d here to focus on the consumption of alcohol for someone who has Diabetes. Of any type.
First and foremost, I’d like to point out that every person is different, as is their management of Diabetes. Everyone’s journey is unique, despite the condition being similar. Some of this will apply to all the types and subtypes of Diabetes, with some only applying to specific ones. For example, should you have Gestational Diabetes, I pray to the Light that you aren’t consuming alcohol. But that’s a totally separate issue. Since I’m Type-1, that’s the one I’ll mostly be focusing on.
Let’s start with some basic nutritional information. Alcoholic beverages contain carbohydrates. There are some spirits or “hard alcohols” that find themselves sitting at the 0 carbs level, but most bottle drinks you purchase at your local store will contain some, if not a lot, of carbohydrates. Although every blend, type and amount will differ, I offer the following comparison through the use of a photo I took a few days ago:
Now, ignoring the fact that I had all three of these items available on a sunny afternoon in order to take the photo, I’ll ask the following question: Which of these contain the most carbohydrates? Most people would likely think it would be the shot (it’s FireBall, BTW). This would be a natural conclusion, since most flavoured liquors are loaded with sugar. But believe it or not, you would be wrong. I’d like to point out that I’m using these three specific drinks/brands because they are what I had on hand and are no reflection as to whether one should consume these brands or not. This is just for educational purposes.
Let’s start with the shot. The average shot glass is approximately 1.5 fluid ounces. A small bottle (375 mL) contains approximately 10 shots. I contacted the parent company who makes FireBall and was informed that a shot sits at approximately 11 grams of carbohydrates. 11 grams, for a tiny gulp that does nothing more than burn the throat! This means that the entire bottle sits at about 110 grams of carbohydrates. Not that one would necessarily drink an entire bottle… Although I did experience this last year, as explained in my post A Decade Of Blood, Sweat And Literal Tears…, FireBall is not something typically consumed in large quantities. But it packs a solid carb-punch!
Next, we’ll discuss the beer. Believe it or not, the beer has the most carbohydrates per single drink. Sitting at approximately 25 grams of carbohydrates (this is not specific to the brand illustrated in my photo) per can, it can make having a six-pack pretty difficult as it totals at 150 grams of carbohydrates. This can range anywhere from 20 to 28 grams, depending on the brand and blend of beer you drink. It also tends to fill you more.
Finally, the wine. Ah, my beloved wine… Although nothing close to being a connoisseur, I do enjoy tasting the different blends of wine and comparing them. What’s nice is that an entire 750 mL of red wine averages between 12 to 15 grams of carbohydrates. For the entire bottle! Since one whole bottle sits at less than one shot of spirits, I tend to favour wine. Also, it’s important to bear in mind that white wine will contain significantly more carbohydrates red. But since I’m a Malbec or Shiraz man, I don’t have to deal with that issue.
If we quickly do the math, FireBall sits at 0.25 grams of carbs per millilitre. Despite the wallop packed by a can of beer, it’s only 0.05 grams of carbs per millilitre. The red wine is the big winner at the lowest amount, sitting at 0.02g/mL. Per mill, the wine is still the lowest. Per expected drink, the beer is the highest. It all depends on whether you’re having a casual drink or planning to drown your woes.
Most of this could easily be interpreted as useless facts, but the take-home lesson is that any alcoholic beverage you consume will require some blousing and calculation on your part. If you have Diabetes. Moderate alcohol consumption will likely result in increased blood sugars if you don’t bolus correctly. However, a heavy night of drinking will likely lead to hypoglycaemia, since alcohol will inhibit your liver’s ability to release glycogen and your body won’t receive the glucose it should.
These are just guidelines, but there’s a pretty good chart that’s put out by Diabetes Canada. It provides information and guidelines about the consumption of alcohol if you have Diabetes, as well as some baseline carb counts for the majority of drinks. These are guidelines only, and you should lean on your specific drink’s nutritional information combined with your specific insulin sensitivity to deal with all of it. As usual, moderation is key. Consume safely, my friends. ☯