Diabetes / Metabolic Disorders

Some studies have reported that alcohol can have an impact on blood sugar, which is an important factor for potentially developing diabetes and for managing diabetes.

Researchers have found that heavy consumption could be related to increased risk of developing diabetes. The Mayo Clinic explains: “Although studies show that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may actually lower the risk of diabetes, the opposite is true for people who drink greater amounts of alcohol. . . Too much alcohol may cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can impair its ability to secrete insulin and potentially lead to diabetes.”1

According to the American Diabetes Association, when you have diabetes:

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. But if you don’t drink regularly, this doesn’t mean you should start. After all, other aspects of moderate drinkers’ lives may be behind the link. Too much drinking, on the other hand (more than three drinks daily), can lead to higher blood sugar and A1C. Despite the potential health perks of drinking alcohol, there are some cautions as well. The biggest concern is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).2

The American Diabetes Association also cautions about the potential interaction between alcohol and many medications commonly prescribed to treat diabetes: “When drinking alcohol is combined with the medications most often used to treat diabetes—particularly insulin and sulfonylureas, low blood sugar can result.”3 They add:

There’s another reason drinking can be challenging. Unlike protein, fat, or carbohydrate, alcohol doesn’t require insulin to provide energy to the body. Yet, many people assume that alcoholic drinks are loaded with carbs, not realizing that wine and spirits are practically carbohydrate free—with only a trace of carbohydrate in spirits and roughly four grams of carbs in a five-ounce glass of wine. The exception is sweet dessert wines, which pack 14 grams of carb in a tiny three-and-a-half-ounce glass…


Drinking is individualized and there’s no universal rule for how to do it safely when you live with diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and they can provide you with tips and tricks for how drink in a way that works for you.4


  1. Diabetes: Does alcohol and tobacco use increase my risk? – Mayo Clinic
  2. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Health and wellness: Alcohol and diabetes. Retrieved October 4, 2023 from https://diabetes.org/health-wellness/alcohol-and-diabetes
  3. American Diabetes Association. (nd). Alcohol and Diabetes. Retrieved April 17, 2024 from https://diabetes.org/health-wellness/alcohol-and-diabetes
  4. Alcohol and Diabetes | ADA