The #1 Worst Beer for Blood Sugar, Says Dietitian
Watching what you eat and drink plays a major role in your blood sugar health. If you eat or drink foods high in sugar in excess, it can lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease and kidney or nerve damage.
Although you need to watch what you eat and drink, you should still be able to enjoy certain things in moderation. Alcohol, for instance, in moderation can be consumed without causing too many issues. However, you must choose the best ones for you and avoid the ones that may be dangerous. According to Eat This, Not That! medical expert board member Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook, The 7 Ingredient Healthy Pregnancy Cookbook, and Fueling Male Fertility, the worst beer for blood sugar is a shandy.
Typically speaking, a shandy is a beer (typically a pale ale or lager), mixed with lemonade and/or other fruit juices. Popular ones you'll see include lemon, orange, apple, and grapefruit juice. Also classified under citrus beer, a shandy is equal parts beer and some sort of juice.
Originally, shandies were created from 19th Century New England as beer mixed with ginger-ale or ginger-beer. Eventually, the beer spread throughout Europe, and other countries made their concoctions using lemon and juices.
Even though a shandy sounds like a refreshing beer that's perfect for warm weather or when summer approaches, this beer and juice drink combination can cause havoc on blood sugar levels.
"Technically a beer mixed with lemonade or juice, [a shandy] can contribute to elevated blood sugars thanks to the addition of added sugars in this concoction," says Manaker.
A shandy may have a low ABV, but it is high in carbohydrate
If you're consuming a commercial shandy (in the can or on tap), your alcohol by volume (ABV) will be around 4.2 to 4.5%. This is similar to a light beer, and it is recommended that those with diabetes or high blood sugar generally stick with beers that have an ABV of 7% or less, which may help keep your carb intake in check.
However, just because it's a light beer, doesn't mean it's a healthy masterpiece. A low ABV beer still contains carbohydrates, which can affect how your liver produces glucose. This may lead to an unexpected drop in blood sugar. If you consume beer (or any alcohol) excessively, it can lead to liver disease and other problems. This especially goes for people with diabetes.
Added sugars, including juices, affect blood sugar levels
With a shandy, its sugary, non-alcoholic ingredients may set you up for spikes in blood sugar.
Sugar-sweetened beverages tend to be the culprit of increased blood sugar more often than not, and adding them to a beer isn't going to make them any better.
The lemonade portion of the shandy also contains high levels of sugar. In an average glass of homemade lemonade, there are about 30 grams of sugar per serving. Meanwhile, prepacked lemonade can contain an ample amount of added sugar.
According to research posted in the British Medical Journal, sugar-sweetened beverages, including both fruit juices and lemonade, can cause the same spikes in blood sugar levels as a soda or other highly sugared food or drink product. This is because these juices may contain high levels of sugar or corn syrup. Or, contain little to no real fruit juice. Instead, they provide a high concentration of sugar and little to no nutritional value.
As always, it is important to drink your alcohol in moderation. However, it is recommended to stay away from sugary beers if you're at risk for high blood sugar.