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Beer and Hard Seltzer: The Ultimate Diabetes-Friendly Guide

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Erin Davis

Beer is an alcoholic beverage that’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years, while hard seltzer is a well-liked low-carb drink that’s relatively recent on the scene. Here’s all the pieces it’s essential to learn about beer and hard seltzer if you may have diabetes.

When you like beer, you’re not alone. In 2021, greater than 7 billion gallons of beer was consumed. And in case you’ve noticed the upsurge of White Claw boxes lining liquor stores, it’s clear the hard seltzer market is booming, too.

While some relish the big variety of beers on the market, others are selecting spiked seltzers and other lower-carb alternatives.

“Currently, I’m noticing individuals gravitating towards low alcohol-by-volume beers and seltzers,” said Christa Brown, a registered dietitian specializing in type 2 diabetes management. “A few of my patients wish to enjoy a light-weight spritz without all of the guilt and unintended effects of an everyday adult beverage.”

All about beer: dietary facts

There appears to be one million kinds of beer as of late, however the technique of making this popular beverage is basically the identical. Beer is an alcoholic beverage made by the fermentation of grain and is usually flavored with hops.

“Cereal grains akin to malted barley are converted to sugars,” said registered dietitian Lori FitzPatrick, who described the brewing process. “Additional carbohydrates could also be added as starch or sugar adjuncts, akin to adding oats to an oatmeal stout, rice to a rice lager, or lactose (milk sugar) to a milk stout or milkshake IPA.”

Naturally, these carbs matter and may easily add up.

“Lots of those sugars are fermented by yeast to make alcohol, but any residual sugars left after fermentation are included in the overall carbohydrate count,” FitzPatrick explained.

In the case of selecting beer based on nutrition, it could be tricky. Traditional American-style lagers, like Budweiser and Coors, have standard ingredients and calorie counts. But craft beers likely won’t.

“Craft beers contain a wide selection of calories, carbohydrates, and alcohol,” FitzPatrick said. Meaning your glass of beer can have a very different nutrient profile than your barmate’s beer of alternative.

“To make things much more confusing, craft beers are offered in many various volumes, and nutrient labeling just isn’t required for malt beverages,” FitzPatrick said.

Nevertheless, the beer industry isn’t completely off the hook.

“When you claim your product is ‘light’, then it’s essential to support that by including nutrition information,” said Dakota Soule who works at Upper Hand Brewery in Michigan. Typically, the lower the ABV (alcohol by volume), the lower the calorie count might be.

“Most light beers have a lower ABV, around 4.0-4.6%,” Soule said.

Whether you favor the hoppy and bitter taste of an IPA or the wealthy and nutty flavor of a porter, you’ll need to be mindful of how it’s going to impact your blood sugars and health goals. Below, you’ll find the calorie and carb count averages for several types of beer.


Ale is a sort of beer fermented for a brief period of time at a warm temperature. A well-liked sort of beer amongst craft brewers, ales might be made in as short as seven days. Listed below are a few of the commonest ales:

Indian pale ale

Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 170-240 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 11-20 grams; Average ABV: 5.0-8.0%

Indian pale ale (IPA) is brewed with additional hops, which supplies this type of beer its distinct bitter taste. Rating high in popularity, IPA has more calories and carbohydrates than other beers. Because its alcohol content is a bit higher, there may be more residual sugar and carbs.


Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 170-240 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 15-20 grams; Average ABV: 4.0-6.0%

A wealthy, dark beer, porter is brewed with browned malted barley at a hot temperature. The result’s a full-bodied, bitter-tasting beer loved for its creamy mouthfeel. While this dark beer could also be higher in calories than a light-weight brew, it’s wealthy in flavonoids, that are loaded with antioxidants.


Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 150-220 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 10-20 grams; Average ABV: 4.0-6.0%

Stout is a dark beer that has a definite toasted flavor as a consequence of the roasted grains utilized within the brewing process. It’s much like a porter but might be thicker and more bitter. Again, the calorie count boils all the way down to the ABV. The greater the ABV, the upper the calories and carbs.


Lager beer is fermented for longer periods at a low temperature. The largest beer producers within the U.S. make the sort of beer. In the case of selecting a beer for individuals with diabetes, FitzPatrick suggested that lagers could also be an excellent alternative.

“Lagers typically contain less carbohydrates and are also less prone to have long lists of added ingredients related to residual sugars,” she said.

American style lager

Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 95-110 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 3-7 grams; Average ABV: 4.1-4.2%

The sort of beer may be essentially the most recognizable, having dominated the beer cooler long before the boom in craft brewing. Brands like Miller, Coors, and Budweiser make light lagers which are a few of the top-selling within the nation. Out of all beers, light lagers are the bottom in carbohydrates and calories.


Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 95-160 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 9-17 grams; Average ABV: 4.5-5.0%

Originating within the Czech Republic, pilsner is a pale, golden lager. Loved for its refreshing flavor, pilsners are a well-liked summer beer. Due to its lower ABV, pilsner is usually lower in calories and carbs than darker beers.

Gluten-free beer

Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 65-200 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 5-15 grams; Average ABV: 4.0-5.0%

Fortunately, a growing variety of gluten-free beers can be found, providing an option for individuals who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Gluten-free beer is brewed using grains like rice, millet, buckwheat, corn, and sorghum.

There are also “gluten-removed” beers, that are constructed from gluten grains, but processed with gluten-digesting enzymes. While this selection could also be effective for somebody with a slight intolerance, it wouldn’t be really helpful for somebody with a severe gluten allergy or celiac disease.

What about hard seltzer?

It’s not possible to enter the beer aisle and never notice the growing variety of hard seltzer offerings. Hard seltzer is made with carbonated water, alcohol, and flavorings – often fruit juice.

Registered dietitian Lena Bakovic explained why spiked seltzer can have additional appeal.

“They have a tendency to be gluten-free because they don’t contain barley or wheat like beer.”

Have in mind that although hard seltzers could also be marketed as low-carb, these products still contain alcohol. They could taste light and refreshing, but like other alcohols, an excessive amount of hard seltzer may very well be detrimental to your health.

Studies have found that heavy alcohol use can result in a bunch of health problems including liver disease, pancreatitis, and more. As well as, alcohol can affect your sleep quality. Poor sleep not only affects blood sugar but additionally food selections and overall health.

The hard facts

So, what do you have to search for in a tough seltzer? Before everything, registered dietitian Amy Beney recommends taking a look at the nutrition facts.

“Hard seltzers akin to White Claw or Truly’s are made with fermented cane sugar or corn, which is then combined with sparkling water and infused with fruit flavors,” Beney said. “They could be sweetened with stevia, which doesn’t increase glucose or insulin levels.”

Low-carb hard seltzer

Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 100 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 2 grams; Average ABV: 4.0-5.0%

Many spiked seltzers are made with no added sugar, making them a low-carb drink option. You’ll know which brands are low-carb by their labeling – it’s often prominently placed on the packaging (though it’s still at all times an excellent practice to examine dietary labels, simply to be protected).

While some seltzers offer only a refreshing hint of fruit flavor, others use stevia and sugar substitutes for added sweetness. Most seltzers are gluten-free.

Vodka seltzer

Nutrition per 12 oz. serving
Average calories: 95-110 kcals; Average total carbohydrates: 2 grams; Average ABV: 4.0-5.0%

Because the name implies, vodka seltzer is made with carbonated water and vodka. Often, there may be fruit juice or flavoring added. Usually, vodka seltzer is one other gluten-free alternative.

Precautions for drinking alcohol with diabetes

It’s really helpful that everybody devour alcohol sparsely, however it’s particularly significant for individuals with diabetes.

Here’s why. Your liver, which prevents hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) by releasing glucose into the blood once you begin to get low, prioritizes processing alcohol. Alcohol may also interact with certain medications, including ones that lower blood sugar.

Because of this, you could experience delayed hypoglycemia after drinking alcohol, especially in case you are on diabetes medications or insulin.

“Because alcohol can influence glucose for as much as 12 hours and produce a possible hypoglycemic event, experts often recommend testing blood sugars before going to sleep,” Bakovic said.

Suggestions for selecting beer or hard seltzer

If you may have diabetes and wish to savor a drink or two, listed below are just a few pointers for selecting what to sip:

  1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach: Beney suggested eating a snack before drinking. “I often recommend something small, akin to Greek yogurt, fruit, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, or the next fiber carb or protein snack. It will probably prevent overeating and can make it less prone to select higher-calorie or higher-fat food items on a menu.”
  2. Keep watch over your blood sugar: Because you might be at greater risk for low blood sugar after drinking, make certain you might be monitoring for hypoglycemia.
  3. Stay hydrated: Beney really helpful drinking loads of water. “Ideally drink water throughout the day or before you permit. It’s possible you’ll be thirsty and drink more alcohol than planned. Proper hydration status might be essential for blood sugar control, whether or not alcohol is consumed.”
  4. Search for the low-carb option: “Beers with ‘low carb’ or ‘low calorie’ claims must meet additional labeling requirements and usually tend to list specific calorie and carbohydrate amounts,” said FitzPatrick.
  5. Limit your drinks: The American Diabetes Association Standards of Care recommends that girls with diabetes devour no a couple of drink per day, and men not more than two drinks. To maintain your drinking moderate, alternate your alcoholic beverages with water or mocktails. FitzPatrick also advised mindful drinking in case you just like the higher-carb beers. “Ask for a smaller pour at a brewery or split a beer with a friend to assist moderate your intake,” she said.
  6. Select beers with lower ABV: Typically, the lower the ABV, the lighter on carbs and calories the drink might be. For a calorie count, FitzPatrick suggested plugging the ABV and volume of your favorite beer right into a standard drink calculator to see the way it stacks up to at least one standard drink.
  7. Try a non-alcoholic alternative: “Consider trying hop water or hop tea for a non-alcoholic approach to be hoppy and healthy,” FitzPatrick said. “But be mindful of non-alcoholic beers, as these often contain just as many, if no more, carbs than standard beers to rival the taste without the alcohol.”

Learn more about drinks, weight loss plan, and diabetes here:

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