Want more tips and tricks for reaching your health goals? Join Lark!

Take our 2-minute survey to find out if you’re eligible to join Lark which includes a smart scale and the chance to earn a Fitbit®.
Start now
*Terms and conditions apply
Close icon

Does your insurance cover daily coaching and a smart scale from Lark?

Find out now with our 2-minute eligibility quiz!
Check my eligibility
Close icon
< Back to Resource Center
< Back to Member Blog

Alcohol and Type 2 Diabetes

April 10, 2019
Alcohol and Type 2 Diabetes - Lark Health

Are you at risk of prediabetes?

Lark can help lower your risk for Type 2 Diabetes through healthy habit formation, and data tracking.
Height: 5 ft 4 in
4' 0"
7' 0"
Weight: 160 lbs
90 lbs
500 lbs
Risk Level
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

What could 15% weight loss mean for you?

Feel more energetic and significantly reduce your risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

By clicking the button above, you agree to the Lark Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, and SMS Terms.

Current Weight: 250 lbs
120 lbs
500 lbs
Your weight loss could be*
- - lbs
Your new weight: -- lbs
Am I eligible?

By clicking the button above, you agree to the Lark Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, and SMS Terms.

*Results may vary. Based on the average weight loss in three, 68-week clinical trials of patients without diabetes who reached and maintained a dose of 2.4mg/week of GLP-1 treatment, along with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. View study here.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

How Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Type 2 Diabetes?

Can I drink alcohol with type 2 diabetes?
You might be asking this common question if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Alcoholic beverages can affect your blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, and drinking alcohol can have short-term and long-term consequences.

Whether it is wine, cocktails, or beer and diabetes that you are wondering about, learn how alcohol consumption may affect you, which drinks may be better or worse than others because of their sugars and alcohol content, and how to drink more safely if you do choose to drink.

Alcohol and Risk of Hypoglycemia

Unlike with many other aspects of diabetes and diet, the immediate risk with alcohol consumption is severe hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar. This can be an emergency situation.

One reason for hypoglycemia with alcohol and type 2 diabetes is that alcohol can interfere with some diabetes medications, including sulfonylureas, metglitinides, and insulin. The result can be too much insulin action and a drop in blood sugar.

Another reason for hypoglycemia is that your liver is needed to metabolize alcohol, which takes its attention away from another duty: regulating blood sugar. The liver stores glycogen, a form of carbohydrate, and releases it to maintain blood sugar levels if they drop too much between meals. This mechanism is interrupted when you drink, and blood sugar can fall.

Hypoglycemia can also occur within 1 to 3 hours after drinking if you chose sugary mixed drinks or ate high-carbohydrate foods while drinking. This is known as reactive hypoglycemia because it happens as your body reacts to the sugar and other carbs by releasing more insulin.

Signs of hypoglycemia include shakiness, anxiety, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. Headaches and seizures are also possible. Mayo Clinic warns that a diabetic coma could result. Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms. If you are unable to check your levels, treat it as though you know that you have hypoglycemia.

  • Do not drink any more alcohol.
  • If you have mild hypoglycemia with blood sugar 55-70 mg/dl, have 15 grams of carbohydrates and recheck your blood sugar in 15 minutes. Repeat until your number is higher than 70.
  • If you have severe hypoglycemia with blood sugar less than 54 mg/dl, you may need to use injectable glucagon. You can get a prescription for this and carry it on your body. Let others know how to use it so they can administer it in case you are unconscious due to hypoglycemia.

What’s in Your Alcoholic Beverage?

Before drinking, you should know what a serving size is, and how many calories and grams of alcohol and carbohydrates are in that serving. These are a few common alcoholic beverages to give you an idea.

Drink (% alcohol)Serving SizeGrams of AlcoholGrams of CarbohydratesCaloriesBeer (5%)

How Many Calories in Black Butte Porter Beer?

Let’s look at a specific type of beer and break down the calories and the dietary information. For this, we chose a dark beer, as it is one the most caloric varieties of beer.

A1C and Alcohol

If alcohol leads to hypoglycemia, can you count on having lower blood glucose measurements and better A1C levels over time? Actually, A1C and alcohol may have a more complicated relationship. Some research, such as an article published in Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that people who drink more have lower A1C values, while other research, published in the American Journal of Medicine, suggests that people with diabetes who drink have higher blood glucose. [1]

Alcohol affects insulin sensitivity, but not always predictably. Higher blood sugar levels are possible. Alcohol and prediabetes have a clearer relationship: heavier drinking raises diabetes risk if you have prediabetes.

Harvard School of Public Health warns that the gains you may make with moderate drinking are outweighed by potential drawbacks. Drinking with diabetes makes weight control more difficult. There are the calories in alcoholic beverages that you choose to drink, plus calories in the carbohydrates you are eating to prevent hypoglycemia, plus any calories you take in without thinking about it, since alcohol lowers your inhibition. Obesity can raise risk for cardiovascular risk factors, including high triglycerides. Neuropathy is also a risk of drinking.

To reduce calories and the effects of alcohol on blood sugar, you can consider lower-alcohol alternatives. Alcohol-free beer and nonalcoholic beverages are good choices. If you believe beer and diabetes must mix, you can try low-alcoholic beer (about half the alcohol and one-third fewer calories than 5% beer) as a compromise. Finally, be aware of the sugars from soft drinks, syrups, or juices that may be in alcoholic beverages.

Can People with Diabetes Drink?

As you may have guessed, the answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. It is safest to avoid alcohol completely, but that may not be a step that you are willing to take. If you insist on drinking, be sure to keep it in moderation to reduce the risk of alcohol-related health problems such as high blood pressure or liver disease. Limit yourself to no more than one the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend.

Other tips to stay safe from the American Diabetes Association are:[2]

  • Drink slowly to spread out your alcohol consumption.
  • Drink water as you drink alcohol and between drinks.
  • Consume some food with carbohydrates before and while drinking.

Each time that you do choose to drink, be sure that you are wearing an ID that states that you have diabetes. Also tell your friends or family members that you are at risk for hypoglycemia while drinking. The signs of an emergency situation as hypoglycemia can appear similar to those of being drunk, and you do not want people to “just leave you alone” if you are acting drunk but really need medical care for hypoglycemia.

Mayo Clinic suggests following these additional special precautions for diabetes patients.

  • Check your blood sugar before you start drinking, while you are drinking, at bedtime, and through the night. Be extra vigilant for a full 24 hours after you drink.
  • Do not start drinking unless your blood sugar is between 100 and 140 mg/dl.
  • Bring your own source of carbohydrates in case the place where you are drinking does not supply them.
  • Carry your glucagon with you and tell your companions when and how to use it.

It is especially important to plan ahead when you will be drinking outside the home or in social settings. Those are situations when you can easily get caught up in the moment and get into trouble if you have not planned ahead.

The bottom line is that alcohol and type 2 diabetes may not be the healthiest choice for people with diabetes. It is a safety risk while drinking, and it can increase cardiovascular risk over time. The relationship between A1C and alcohol can be misleading, as the lower A1C can mask other concerns. Lark Diabetes Care can help you make healthy choices each day as you manage your diabetes and live your healthiest lifestyle.


  1. Ahmed AT, Karter AJ, Warton EM, Doan JU, Weisner CM. The relationship between alcohol consumption and glycemic control among patients with diabetes: the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry. J Gen Intern Med. 2008;23(3):275–282. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0502-z
  2. American Diabetes Association. Alcohol. Edited October 16, 2017.

About Lark

Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.

Read more

Get healthier with Lark & earn a Fitbit®

Lose weight, get more active, and eat better.
take 1-minute survey

See if Ozempic® is covered by insurance

Curb cravings and reach your weight loss goals!

Similar posts

15 Ways to Simplify Healthy Eating by Planning Ahead15 Ways to Simplify Healthy Eating by Planning Ahead

15 Ways to Simplify Healthy Eating by Planning Ahead

If you’re trying to eat well for health or to lose weight, there’s a good chance you already know what foods you want to eat. A greater challenge for many people is getting those foods onto the plate.

Learn more
What to Know About Intermittent Fasting - Including Meal PlansWhat to Know About Intermittent Fasting - Including Meal Plans

What to Know About Intermittent Fasting - Including Meal Plans

Intermittent fasting, or IF, is a popular trend. It involves periods of eating followed by periods of fasting or eating far less than your body’s needs.

Learn more
Eat Well and Feel Your Best on July 4thEat Well and Feel Your Best on July 4th

Eat Well and Feel Your Best on July 4th

Here are some of the most popular choices for Independence Day celebrations, and what you can choose instead to keep on track while enjoying yourself and your loved ones.

Learn more