Alcohol & Carbohydrates: Five Myths

The author of The Low Carb Bartender: Carb Counts of Beer, Wine, Mixed Drinks and More argues that the subject of alcohol and carbohydrates is usually presented by the media in a misleading or incorrect manner. Bob Skilnik’s reference book lists the carbohydrate counts of over 1,000 beers, 400 wines, and more than 200 mixed drinks.

The author says that descriptions of alcohol and its effects on blood sugar or the metabolization of carbohydrates found in low-carb diet books is usually wrong. To correct this misinformation he has corrected the top five myths about alcohol and carbs.

1. The liver does not metabolize alcohol into sugar. On the contrary, most people will experience a dip in their blood sugar (glucose) levels when consuming alcohol. Alcohol is eventually broken down by the liver into acetate, and finally into carbon dioxide and water---not sugar.

Standard Drinks and Alcohol Equivalence

Learn what they are and why they'’re very important.

2. Non-alcohol beers do not contain less carbohydrates than regular-brewed beers. In fact, they are all higher in carbs than a typical beer, some almost double in carbohydrate content. Unfortunately, there are too many websites that incorrectly claim that NA beers are both alcohol-free and low in carbohydrates.

3. The glycemic index (GI) of beer, wine, and distilled products is zero. The urban legend that alcoholic beverages have high GIs, has been floating around the diet book circuit for years. If you're on any type of diet or practice a lifestyle that monitors the glycemic index or gycemic load of food and drink, you can still enjoy a libation or two.

4. There are carbohydrates in all wines, even the driest styles, despite what some wine appreciation websites might tell you. The only alcoholic beverages that can possibly have a zero-carb content are distilled products. Fermentation will always leave some residual sugar behind in the form of carbs.

5. There is no sugar in rum. Alcohol is derived from high-carbohydrate fermentables such as sugar, molasses, potatoes, or various grains. If you understand the processes of fermentation and distillation, you'll know that the end result of distillation is ethyl alcohol, a zero-carb liquid.

This web site does not provide medical/dieting advice or opinion and it receives no compensation of any type from the sale of The Low Carb Bartender: Carb Counts of Beer, Wine, Mixed Drinks and More.

References

  • Gissinger, Beth. Top 5 Urban Legends of Alcohol and Carb Counting. Adams Media press release, February 17, 2005.
  • Skilnik, Bob. The Low Carb Bartender: Carb Counts of Beer, Wine, Mixed Drinks and More. Adams Media, 2005 (ISBN 1593372531)

Readings

  • Colditz, G., et al. Alcohol intake in relation to diet and obesity in women and men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1991, 54, 49-55.
  • Cordain, L., et al. Influence of moderate daily wine consumption upon body weight regulation and metabolism in healthy free living males. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1997, 16(2), 134-139.
  • Hellerstedt, W. L., et al. The association between alcohol intake and adiposity in the general population. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1990, 132(4), 594-611.
  • Istvan, J., et al. The relationship between patterns of alcohol consumption and body weight. International Journal of Epidemiology, 1995, 24(3), 543-546
  • Jequier, E. Alcohol intake and body weight: a paradox. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999, 69, 173-174.
  • Kahn, H. S., et al. Stable behaviors associated with adults' 10-year change in body mass index and the likelihood of gain at the waist. American Journal of Public Health, 1997, 87(5), 747-754.
  • Klesges, R. C., et al. Effects of alcohol intake on resting energy expenditure in young women social drinkers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994, 59, 805-809.
  • Landis, W. E. M.. Alcohol and energy intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995, 62(suppl.), 11015-11068.
  • Liu, S., et al. A proscriptive study of alcohol intake and change in body weight among US adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994, 140(10), 912-920
  • Mannisto, S., et al. Alcohol beverage drinking, diet and body mass index in a cross-national survey. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997, 151, 326-332.
  • Mannisto, E., et al. Reported alcohol intake, diet and body mass index in male smokers. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1996, 50, 239-245.
  • Prentice, A. M. Alcohol and obesity. International Journal of Obesity, 1995, 19(suppl. 5), S44-S50.

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