The metabolic disease, diabetes mellitus results from increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) in the bloodstream. It happens due to irregular insulin production and action. Insulin is a hypoglycemic agent produced by the beta cells in the islets of the pancreas and works to control blood glucose levels. It is vital to the metabolism of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates and is the primary anabolic hormone in the body. 

Diabetes can seriously affect the kidneys, eyes, heart, nerves, blood vessels, teeth, and brain. In addition, it can lead to continuous harm, dysfunction, and organ failure. 

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. As per data, it affects 90% to 95% of those with the disease and is characterised by difficulty using insulin and managing healthy blood sugar levels. Patients are usually diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in adulthood but it can affect people of all ages. 

Those with diabetes can prevent or control the disease by leading a healthy life. A healthy lifestyle includes exercising, eating nutritious meals, and reducing weight. Hence, diabetes patients should abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages such as beer which can lead to weight gain. In addition, beer contains sugar in the form of maltose and maltodextrin, which can raise blood sugar levels and add calories to one’s diet.

Please do note that this article in no way advocates the consumption of alcohol whether you are diabetic or completely healthy. However, if you have hyperglycemia, it is even more crucial to be aware of the effects that alcohol can have on your blood sugar levels before consuming it. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol can increase blood glucose levels, so moderation is vital. 

Beer: An Overview

Brewing beer involves fermenting starches, usually malted barley, that come from cereal grains. Manufacturers also use other grains such as wheat, rice, oats and maize. During fermentation, the starch sugars in the wort are converted into ethanol and carbonation, resulting in the finished beer.

Hops are common ingredients in modern beer, providing bitterness and other flavours. They also act as a natural stabiliser and preservative. Furthermore, people use hops in other flavourings, such as fruit, herbs, or fruits. In commercial brewing, natural carbonation is usually removed during processing and replaced with forced carbonation.

The amount of alcohol in beer can vary greatly. For instance, while the average alcohol content in beer is 5%, it can go as high as 10%. Even though light beer has less alcohol and calories than ordinary beer, it still contains roughly 4% alcohol. In contrast, wine typically includes around 12% alcohol, whereas distilled spirits like gin, rum, and vodka have about 40% alcohol.

Types of Beer

Although one can find over 100 different types of beer, the primary classification is either an ale or a lager. 

Lagers are fermented using bottom-fermenting yeast at a temperature between 35°F and 50°F. Conversely, ales ferment using top-fermenting yeast at temperatures between 60°F and 70°F. 

Examples of ales include India pale ale (IPA), Imperial IPA, stouts, New England-style IPA, and Gose, a wheat ale. Concerning lager, examples include American, Mexican, Vienna, Pilsner, and Helles. Light beer and non-alcoholic beer are made similarly to regular beer. However, they contain fewer calories and less alcohol.

The HealthifyPro Tip

Avoid mixing alcohol with carbonated drinks to help minimise potential harm to your body. If you decide to have a beer, accompany it with a low-carb snack instead of drinking it on an empty stomach. Since beer is a diuretic that can deplete the body’s electrolyte balance, drink plenty of water between beers. 

Beer and Diabetes: Understanding the Impact

For those with diabetes, it is crucial to limit beer consumption. Low-calorie or mild beer is a better choice, as it has lower sugar and carbs (12 ounces of regular beer contains 15 grams of carbs, while mild beer typically has 3-6 grams).

A typical beer can contains 150 calories, but because it has a low alcohol content, people often drink multiple cans, resulting in a total of 700-1000 calories. Unfortunately, these calories are empty, meaning they do not provide your body with any proteins, fats, minerals, or vitamins. Additionally, studies have indicated that beer has a high glycemic index (GI) ranging from 89 to 110.

Research shows that after entering the bloodstream, alcohol rapidly reaches the brain. Additionally, alcohol affects the liver, making it challenging to produce glucose. Therefore, when one consumes too much alcohol, blood sugar levels become low, potentially leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

The HealthifyMe Note

Individuals often pose questions such as, “Can diabetics drink beer?” or “Is beer good for diabetics?” Drinking alcohol isn’t recommended to anyone but if you are diabetic and choose to indulge in an alcoholic drink, please keep in mind that your blood sugar levels will fluctuate. Furthermore, it is essential to avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach and to monitor your blood sugar levels while consuming alcohol closely and for up to 24 hours afterwards to prevent hypoglycemia. Your first step however, is to abstain from alcohol.


If you have diabetes, it is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle. A part of a healthy lifestyle is avoiding consuming alcoholic beverages, including beer. Even if you drink, ensure that you do so in moderation. However, be wary of the adverse effects. One common negative effect of beer or any alcoholic drink on people with diabetes is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. To avoid it, never drink beer on an empty stomach, especially if you take sulfonylureas or insulin. 

Studies have found that excessive beer consumption may harm people with diabetes. However, if you still wish to have alcohol, a few tips can help you manage its effects to some extent. One such tip is to eat a lot of fibre-rich and protein-rich snacks right before drinking beer. It will keep you full and prevent you from overconsuming beer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is beer bad for diabetics?

A. Alcoholic beverages including beer are not advisable for anyone and can have damaging effects even on the healthiest people. When it comes to those with diabetes, in particular, beer can cause blood sugar to fluctuate and drop to a dangerously low level. However, can it interfere with the medications and cause further complications, thus diabetics should avoid beer. If you are in a situation where you are compelled to have or want to enjoy a glass occasionally, make sure you do not have it on an empty stomach and keep snacking. 

Q. Is beer good for blood sugar?

A. No, beer or any alcoholic beverage is not good for blood sugar as it can cause fluctuations. Beer inhibits your liver’s capacity to produce glucose. Furthermore, it inhibits the kidney’s capabilities to metabolise sugar giving alcohol priority which can lead to hypoglycemia i.e. low blood sugar. Extremely low blood sugar can be dangerous for diabetics. 

Q. Can Type 2 diabetics drink beer?

A. Drinking increases your risk of developing hypoglycemia because alcohol affects your blood sugar levels. The high-calorie content of alcoholic beverages may also impact your weight. Furthermore, it is essential to avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach and to monitor your blood sugar levels while consuming alcohol closely and for up to 24 hours afterwards to prevent hypoglycemia. 

Q. What happens when diabetics drink beer?

A. According to studies, alcohol consumption is linked to a higher risk of hypoglycemia in people with diabetes. Low blood sugar can happen while consuming alcohol, along with the drugs that are most frequently used to treat diabetes, namely insulin and sulfonylureas. This can further harm the vital organs and lead to their failure. 

Q. Does beer worsen diabetes?

A. Drinking excessively, especially if you have diabetes, can make specific acids build up in your blood, which can have serious health effects. In addition, drinking alcohol can worsen diabetes-related medical issues, including changes in how fat gets metabolised, nerve damage, and eye illness.

Q. How much beer can a diabetic drink?

A. Moderate alcohol consumption (no more than one to two drinks) can be safe for most people with diabetes. For males, it is best not to consume more than two drinks of alcohol. For women, do not consume more than one. The recommended amount of beer is less than 341ml (12oz) per day.

The Supporting SourcesBeer for Diabetics: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

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5. Meeking DR, Cavan DA. Alcohol ingestion and glycaemic control in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Diabet Med. 1997 Apr;14(4):279-83. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9136(199704)14:4<279::AID-DIA327>3.0.CO;2-S. PMID: 9113480.

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