Alcohol and bolusing

Hello! Fun question here as I’m not a huge drinker but occasionally like to indulge in a drink.

What types of alcohol do you feel have little effect on blood sugar? I had a loon juice (cider for people who haven’t had it) counted it as 15 g and dropped quickly, but with one beer I need a little insulin. Wine is hit or miss for me too- red no insulin white and sweet .5 units.

I like mixed drinks too but never know how to bolus for them.

Any tips?

Hi @Tee25 I think you will find that alcohol and blood sugar is different for everyone, I approach this kind of thing by watching my CGM or testing a lot and figuring it out for myself.

For me, beer is a carb. I bolus for it. It can go ok but at about 3 to 4 hours later I can see a spike and have to bolus or correct again.

Wine has little to no effect in blood sugar. Same for whiskey. I’m not a mixed drink fan but I have to believe a margarita or a gin and juice has got a lot of sugar in it, so it becomes a trial and error sort of thing. Don’t forget to watch for a spike at +3 hours.

Getting loaded is not a great idea because you can get low. With a lot of alcohol, your blood sugar can drop as it can interfere with the way your body deals with sugar. When you’re very low, and intoxicated, no one will know if you need a nap or need a hospital. Be careful. Have a buddy you can trust that knows about the blood sugar. Good luck. :four_leaf_clover:

Hi Taylor @Tee25 , like @joe said alcohol affects everyone differently. But for me a “hard liquor” which was my choice when young didn’t affect my BG - or, I didn’t notice an effect as this was before BG Meters. and only occasionally now with a good sipping whisky for which I don’t use any insulin. These days my alcohol consumption choice is a tasty craft beer, or like tonight at our celebratory dinner a glass of wine.

Wine: for me, a glass or two of red with a meal or with crackers & cheese I will not count into my carb total. The same usually applies to the infrequent times I have white with a meal. Those rules go out the door when the “red” is a sangria or some-such concoction; for this type I spend half my drinking time trying to figure out what was added and then bolus for fruit juices, etc.

Beer: I don’t waste my time [or carb intake] with the blah beer that makes up for 90% of beer sold in this country; my choice tends toward small-batch craft beer, or to a good, rich stout. When I have a BIG pub burger and a pint of Guinness, I don’t need insulin for the beer - in my body that moderate amount of alcohol tends to counter the carbs in the large bun and 8 oz. of not too lean beef - don’t even need a correction later. The same “no additional insulin” usually applies for me with an IPA and for all but the higher alcohol [10% or higher] beers. Cider beer and some other “fancy” crafts that include fruit juices and stuff like that tend to push my BGL high - I will watch my CGM readings and stab at an insulin bolus.

Bottom line, live life and enjoy - BUT be aware and be careful. One thing I learned when I was younger than you are now, an alcohol buzz feels much like a severe low BG, and both can impair judgement.

The achohol of any beverage is not a carb, protein or anything that is nutritional but it does effect your metabolism and will usually slow down your ability of your liver to deal with glycogen levels this is why the carbs from a beer or mixed drink with juice has a delayed effect. I tend to do a pizza delayed Bolus for beer, but beer doesn’t have to label carb content on bottle, but IPA have 15grams of carbs, where a Guinness beer has 10grams. I have diminished most beer drinking and have moved to Vodka and diet soda of just soda, while this eliminates one variable in the Bolus calc if I am eating I still see that the achohol has delayed my response to a regular Bolus without delaying delivery.

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I’m very cognizant of my BG levels when consuming any alcoholic beverages. I watch my CGM very carefully, but I like to indulge on the weekends with some wine or a beer. I’m not much of a liquor drinker. For me, it causes my BG to drop, so I normally have some cheese and a couple of crackers with my beverage. I don’t bolus for it and sometimes have to reduce my basal rate on my pump. It takes practice and being very conscientious. If you have time, I’d check out some of the videos and seminars on Taking Control of Your Diabetes website. The head of it Dr. Edelman has several seminars on the topic. He’s an Endo and Type I who has addressed this topic. I have no connection to the program, but find it extremely helpful, so I always sing its praises.

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Like Dee said, I don’t bolus for alcohol and I avoid all alcoholic beverages made with simple sugar, juice, or tonic (sangría, margarita, tequila sunrise, etc). Wine & hard liquor for me have zero affect on BG. I don’t bolus for beer because it if I do, it will come back and hit me with a low. – I agree with everything everyone else said about getting shit-faced. It’s super dangerous for someone with diabetes. If you have a CGM, everyone needs to know what the beeping means. Dehydration will send your blood sugars through the roof and you can end up in the hospital with DKA or worse. Always drink a lot of water before bed and don’t drink so much that you aren’t aware.

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I was just out of college when home BG meters first came on the scene😳, and CGMs were a while after that. The wisdom for diabetics at college was don’t drink to excess - your friends won’t know if you’re drunk or low. Of course there are lots of other reasons not to drink too much but that one always stuck out. Thank goodness now we can know what’s going on - and hopefully we’ve shared with someone what to do in terms of reading behavior and numbers, and how to respond.

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I agree about staying aware of your numbers. I was livid a couple of years ago when I attended a concert and had planned to celebrate with some drinks. I was going with friends and not driving. I took 2 sensors with me and they both failed! So, I was left with a pump and no CGM……It’s good that I took plenty of test strips, as I had to set my alarm to wake me up every hour to check my BG, which is good cause it went low all night.

And just as bad, you lose 3 hours waiting for a warm up - twice in your case. Always good to have a backup plan.

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In my experience, an ounce of rum or vodka lowers blood sugar by about 25 mg/dl per ounce. To spice it up you might add diet coke or another diet beverage to the mix. Best that you test your blood sugars before and after taking the drink. Say when you first inbibe the drink and 45-60 minutes after to get a good sense of how your blood sugar is doing. Keep a snack handy when you are having your drink. Also a good idea to check with your diabetologist/endocrinologist about the risks of drinking alcohol with your diet.


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