Effects of Drinking Alcohol on Insulin Resistance

What are the effects of drinking alcohol on insulin resistance (or metabolic syndrome)? Insulin resistance is when cells don’t respond properly to insulin. Thus, they can’t use the glucose (sugar) in blood for energy. As a result, the body makes more insulin. Consequently, blood sugar levels increase. This becomes a vicious cycle. Sugar that your cells don’t use forms fat. And fat promotes insulin resistance.


      1. Study
      2. Risk Factors
      3. Resources 

The results tend to be obesity, high blood pressure, development of type 2 diabetes, and high “bad” cholesterol. Thus, any of these may be symptoms of the disease. Importantly, as many as a one in three people in the U.S. suffers from insulin resistance. Therefore, it’s a serious and major health problem.

I. Study

Researchers studied the effects of drinking alcohol on insulin resistance. To do so, their study included 280,194 people without diabetes. All underwent comprehensive health examinations three or more times within a period of eight years. Their mean age was 38.2 years and 55.7% were male.

alcohol on insulin resistanceThe median follow-up period was 4.13 years. During that time, alcohol consumption was linked with reduced insulin resistance. That is, drinking alcohol reduced the problem of insulin resistance.

The researchers concluded that alcohol consumption improves insulin resistance. Also, that increased drinking amounts may have preventive effects on the progression of insulin resistance.

II. Risk Factors

Things that increase chances (risk factors) for metabolic syndrome include these.

    • A diet high in carbs.
    • Having a fat belly.
    • alcohol on insulin resistanceNot getting enough exercise.
    • Smoking.
    • A family history of diabetes.
    • Older age (especially after 45).
    • Having hormonal disorders. 
    • Taking steroids, antipsychotics, or HIV meds.
    • Having high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
    • Having either nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or polycystic ovary syndrome. 
    • Sleep apnea and other sleep problems.
    • Being African-American, Latino, or Native American.

III. Resources: Effects of Alcohol on Insulin Resistance


Oh, B. et al. Relationship between alcohol consumption and insulin resistance. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2021,10, 2842-2850.

Web Pages

alcohol on insulin resistanceDrinking Alcohol and Type 2 Diabetes (Adult Onset Diabetes) 

Drinking Alcohol, Diabetes, Heart Health, and Death. (What You Need to Know) 

Alcohol and Health. Medical Findings for Health and Long Life


Feldman, M. & Dalyai, J. The Everything Guide to the Insulin Resistance Diet. NY: Adams, 2021.

Challem, J. et al. Syndrome X. The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance. Old Saybrook, CT: Tandor, 2019.

Hayes, C. The “I Hate to Exercise” Book for People with Diabetes. Alexandria, VA: Am Diab Ass’n, 2013.

Insulin Resistance. Childhood Precursors of Adult Disease. NY: Cham Springer, 2020.

Kumar, A. Effect of 12 weeks structured exercise training on insulin resistance. Berlin: Morressier, 2017.

Manson, C. Insulin Resistance Diet Plan. La Vergne, TN: Tilkan, 2021.

Williamson, M. Blood Sugar Blues. NY: Walker, 2011.