Alcohol Glycemic Index
‘Alcohol glycemic index value is generally very low, so it should be all right and even healthy to drink’ is a myth.
• Although GI isn’t everything to explain the nutritional value of foods, it is a very useful tool that lists the speed at which various carbohydrate rich foods are absorbed by your body and how they raise your blood sugar, with glucose having the highest GI rate of 100.
• As testing foods for GI values involves feeding subjects 50 grams of carbohydrates, alcohol glycemic index values are very difficult to measure.
• So alcohol GI, except for certain liquors, is zero or very low as alcohol itself is not a carbohydrate as some believe and does not contain any carbs but it is indeed very high in calories. 1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, heaps more than protein or carbs.
• An average glass of wine contains only 5 grams of carbohydrates and a great percentage of calories comes from the alcohol itself. Wine is made from grapes which contain sugars and carbs but these sugars convert to alcohol when grapes are made into wine, hence glycemic index value of wine is very low or close to zero.
• Beer contains maltose- which is worse than sugar with a GI of 110 but during the fermentation of beer, maltose is transformed into alcohol and carbonation. So beer glycemic index is quite low too as beer itself hardly has any carbs or sugar.
• Coctails are an exception for carbohydrate content, as they contain other food items- mainly fruits.
• Liqueurs are usually high in carbohydrates and higher in GI value because of added sugars.
• Vodka and a few other distilled alcoholic drinks hardly contain any carbohydrates, so it is quite hard to measure their glycemic index values.
• Some alcoholic beverages are even labelled for low carbohydrate content these days, claiming to be ‘kind of’ healthy. Wine producers even lobbied for permission to use the heart-healthy labels in United States and authorities have actually been cool with the idea.
• How your body processes alcohol has also a lot to do with your genes: How much weight you put on or how badly your health may be affected by drinking.
Alcohol and Diabetes:
• Being a drinker makes it rather difficult to manage diabetes, by alcohol hiding the dangers brought on by hypoglycemia, as alcohol can increase insulin secretion and cause hypoglycemia shortly after or for up to ten hours after drinking. It can also affect the hormonal response that would stabilize the blood sugar.
• When your body tries to release stored glycogen to fight low blood glucose levels, alcohol may prevent it, especially if food is not eaten with it. Dizziness, sleepiness and disorientation are common symptoms of alcohol and hypoglycemia.
*An average blood glucose level is 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter. Stable blood sugar levels are essential to maintain the proper functioning of your body- kidneys, circulatory system, eyes, nervous system and more. Hypoglycemia is when your blood glucose levels go below 70. Anything below 40 for women and 50 for men can be rather dangerous.