Alcohol is a double-edged sword. While it can be great for social occasions and boosting your mood, it can also have some serious health risks, particularly when consumed in excess. Even so-called “healthier” alcoholic beverages like red wine or beer may not be as beneficial for your health as you might think.
The problem is that alcohol is metabolized as sugar in your body, which raises blood sugar levels rapidly. This can lead to insulin resistance and high blood pressure, but also increases your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Meanwhile, certain types of alcohol are worse than others because they contain more calories than others per serving size or contain more congeners (a byproduct of fermentation).
In this article, we’ll reveal the four worst alcoholic beverages for blood sugar levels.
- Beer: Beer has a high glycemic index (GI) number, which means it will raise your blood sugar levels fairly quickly. The body absorbs maltose — the main carbohydrate in beer — very quickly, causing your blood glucose levels to rise.
- Fortified wines: Fortified wines have been enhanced with extra alcohol (usually brandy or other spirits) before being bottled or canned, so they have more calories than regular wine. They also tend to have higher GI numbers than regular wines because of their added sugars. And because fortified wines often contain more alcohol per serving than regular wine, they can cause more dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
- Spirits: Spirits such as whiskey, rum and vodka tend to have higher GI numbers than regular wine or beer because they contain fewer carbohydrates but more calories from sugars like fructose and sucrose.
- Sweetened Cocktails. Sweetened cocktails such as margaritas often contain more than 250 calories per drink because they’re made with multiple types of sweeteners (sugar or high fructose corn syrup), fruit juices or syrups that have added calories, syrups or artificial sweeteners (such as sucralose).