Is Whiskey Good For Diabetes? Secrets Revealed!

Aditi Shenai

May 26, 2023

Diabetes is a pervasive health concern around the globe, characterised by either insufficient insulin production by the pancreas or an inability to utilise it properly. The WHO data points to an increase in diabetes-related deaths in recent years. People living with diabetes can experience a host of damaging effects on the blood vessels, heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Fortunately, prevention and treatment of the condition are achievable with dietary modifications and physical activity.

People with diabetes can reduce the risk of further complications by making healthy dietary choices. It is crucial for those with fluctuating blood sugar levels to be mindful of their diet to ensure that their sugar levels are in check. 

Nowadays, alcohol is often a key component of parties and other celebrations. Additionally, stress can lead people to fall prey to alcoholic drinks. While alcohol has damaging effects on even the most healthy people, those with diabetes should be specifically concerned about the effects of having alcoholic beverages. Given this, whiskey, a popular drink is frequently questioned over its effect on one’s blood sugar levels. Is it safe for people to consume whiskey? If not, then why? And if yes, then how much? 

Please do note that this article in no way advocates the consumption of alcohol whether you are diabetic or completely healthy.  But we will explore the topics leveraging research and scientific studies to get to the bottom of these questions.

Whiskey: An Overview

Whiskey, also spelt whisky, is an alcoholic beverage distilled from grains such as barley, corn, rye, or wheat. This beverage commonly ages in wooden barrels that add unique characteristics and flavours to it. This ageing process can range from a few months to years, depending on the style of production. The time spent in the barrels also significantly affects the taste and aroma of the whiskey.

Depending on the production process, whiskey can be referred to as single malt, scotch, and/or bourbon.

Nutritional Properties of Whiskey

In terms of its nutritional value, whiskey doesn’t have significant benefits. A single 1.5-ounce serving contains 97 calories and no carbohydrates, protein, or fat. While it does contain trace amounts of potassium, iron, zinc, and selenium, the amounts are so minimal that they are not an essential part of the overall nutritional value of whiskey.

According to USDA, 100 grams of whiskey contains the following nutrients.

  • Energy: 231 Kcal
  • Phosphorus: 4 mg
  • Potassium: 2 mg
  • Sodium: 1 mg
  • Potassium: 2 mg

Effect Of Whiskey On Blood Sugar Levels

Individuals with diabetes should be aware of the effects of whiskey consumption on their blood sugar levels. When one consumes alcohol, the liver prioritises breaking down the alcohol instead of glucose. That potentially results in a drop in blood sugar levels. It is particularly true in those taking insulin or other blood sugar-lowering medications.

Even though the glycemic index (GI) of whiskey is zero, the mixers that can be used with whiskey, such as carbonated drinks or juice, are high in added sugars, which can add to the complications in managing blood sugar levels for diabetics. 

The current research on whiskey and its effect on diabetes is debatable. While some studies say it is acceptable to consume whiskey even with diabetes, others contradict it. For example, a meta-analysis shows that whiskey or other alcoholic beverages do not influence insulin sensitivity levels if taken in moderation.

A recent study revealed that consuming more than two alcoholic beverages daily, such as whiskey, is associated with a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes in both men and women. It can be due to chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and other metabolic changes caused by excessive drinking.


Alcohol consumption by diabetics is a topic of research and debate for health experts and professionals. While some researchers propose that moderate whiskey consumption doesn’t interfere with insulin sensitivity, others are of the view that daily alcohol consumption can increase the incidence of diabetes and other health problems such as inflammation, insulin resistance and other metabolic conditions. 

Side Effects of Whiskey for People with Diabetes

Besides the potential impact on blood sugar levels and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, several other side effects of whiskey consumption are of particular concern for individuals with diabetes.

1. Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Research has shown that alcohol consumption, including whiskey, increases cardiovascular disease risk. For example, a study shows that individuals with heavy alcohol consumption have a high risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the most significant concern is determining moderate consumption. It can differ for different individuals. As per experts, only those diabetics with adequately managed blood sugar levels can have whisky in moderation. Thus, it’s best to refrain from it for healthy living. 

2. Weight Gain

Alcohol consumption can increase weight, making it harder to regulate blood sugar levels and heightening the susceptibility of developing related health conditions like Type 2 diabetes. It can also aggravate weight management in a person already suffering from the condition.

3. Liver Damage

Consuming too much alcohol can cause liver damage, impeding the liver’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

4. Increased Risk of Hypoglycemia

As aforementioned, alcohol intake hampers the liver’s ability to metabolise sugar thereby causing fluctuations in blood sugar levels. It can drop the blood glucose levels significantly, which can be especially risky for people taking insulin or other drugs to reduce their blood sugar. 


The relationship between alcohol and body function is affected by various factors such as quantity, frequency, and duration of alcohol intake. While alcohol is unhealthy for all, people with diabetes should be particularly careful. Whiskey consumption can lead to an array of health complications such as increased risk of cardiovascular issues, weight gain, liver damage and severe blood sugar fluctuations. 

Tips to Avoid Sudden Spikes after Whiskey Consumption for Diabetics

The American Diabetes Association recommends that individuals with diabetes limit their alcohol intake and be cautious when consuming whiskey and other alcoholic beverages. To avoid excessive whiskey consumption, here are some tips:

  • Choose lower-alcohol options such as light beer or wine.
  • Drink slowly and with food.
  • Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Keep track of how many drinks you are consuming.
  • It is important to remember that drinking on an empty stomach can lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. So be sure to eat before consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not mix alcohol with sugary juices or sugary sodas. Drinking these with alcohol can cause blood sugar to spike and then drop to dangerous levels.
  • Pay attention to your blood sugar levels before, during, and after drinking alcohol.

HealthifyMe Suggestion

As far as possible, it is important to abstain from drinking alcohol whether or not you are diabetic. If you are diabetic and are consuming whisky, make sure you regularly monitor your blood sugar levels so that you can prevent unusual blood sugar spikes and dips. And if you choose to have a drink, ensure to have small drinks, hydrate with plenty of water in between and to choose snacks that will help keep your sugar levels moderately in check.


Alcohol consumption is an unhealthy practice and best avoided by all and diabetics in particular. It inhibits the ability of the liver to function properly and can cause serious health issues such as heart complications, weight gain and liver damage to even failure. In case you wish you occasionally enjoy a glass or two, make sure to not mix sugary beverages with it and remember to snack with healthy and appropriate foods in between sips so that the body can metabolize the food and manage blood sugar levels in a comparatively better way. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does whiskey have negative effects on blood sugar levels? 

Yes, whiskey can adversely affect blood sugar levels and cause it to drop to a dangerously low level by interfering with the liver’s ability to metabolise food. Diabetics taking blood sugar lowering medications like insulin should be especially cautious while drinking alcoholic beverages such as whiskey.  

Are there any other precautions or considerations for diabetics when drinking whiskey?

Alcohol consumption should be avoided by diabetics as it can cause significant blood sugar fluctuations and lead to a plethora of other complications such as health issues, weight gain and liver damage to name a few. In case a diabetic decides to enjoy a glass of whiskey, it is imperative to keep in mind the sugar content of mixers such as sodas or juices. 

 How does drinking whiskey compare to other types of alcohol for diabetics?

All alcoholic beverage have smore or less the same impact on blood sugar management. However, some of them like sweet wine or beer have higher carbohydrate content and thus impacts glucose levels more significantly. On the other hand, hard liquer like whiskey, brandy or rum are most often mixed with sugary drinks like soda or juices which increases its sugar count. The amount of calories and sugar a drink has is the decisive factor when it comes to blood sugar management. 

The Research Sources

1. World Health Organisation (WHO)


2. The U S Department of Agriculture


3. Ilse C. Schrieks, Annelijn L.J. Heil, Henk F.J. Hendriks, Kenneth J. Mukamal, Joline W.J. Beulens; The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Insulin Sensitivity and Glycemic Status: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Intervention Studies. Diabetes Care 1 April 2015; 38 (4): 723–732. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc14-1556


4. Baliunas DO, Taylor BJ, Irving H, Roerecke M, Patra J, Mohapatra S, Rehm J. Alcohol as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2009 Nov;32(11):2123-32. Doi: 10.2337/dc09-0227. PMID: 19875607; PMCID: PMC2768203.


5. Alcohol Intake and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Middle-Aged Japanese Men | Hiroyasu Iso, Akihiko Kitamura, Takashi Shimamoto, Tomoko Sankai, Yoshihiko Naito, Shinichi Sato, Masahiko Kiyama, Minoru Iida and Yoshio Komachi


6. Klatsky AL. Moderate drinking and reduced risk of heart disease. Alcohol Res Health. 1999;23(1):15-23. PMID: 10890794; PMCID: PMC6761693.


About the Author

M.Sc in: Dietetics and Applied Nutrition from Manipal University. Worked: All over India and have been involved in helping set up nutrition departments in start ups. Interested in lifestyle based nutrition. Mantra: A healthy lifestyle isn't a choice to be made or discarded, it's a way of life!

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