Carbs in Wine and Alcohol
Do They Matter?

Carbs in wine, beer, spirits and mixed drinks: can they mess up a low carb diet?

While certain low carb programs allow alcohol in moderation, the Atkins diet, for one, prohibits consumption during the early phases.

Tolerance for carbs in alcohols no doubt depends sensitively on your metabolism, when and with what you drink, how much carb-related damage has already been done to the metabolism, and so on.

Some alcohol products, particularly regular beers and cider wines, contain significant carbohydrate portions. Also, Daiquiri and Margarita mixes (and even mixes for drinks you’d think would be classified as low carb: such as Bloody Marys) seem to be able to impact blood sugar and insulin.

One good book to pick up on this subject appears to be The Low Carb Bartender: Carb Counts of Beer, Wine, Mixed Drinks, and More. An independent journalist named Bob Skilnik compiled this guide; he goes into great detail about carbs in wine, beer and liquors of every variety. One critical point Skilnik makes: it’s the sugars in alcohol that appear to cause insulin problems, not the ethanol itself.

Consider how alcohol is made: by fermenting sugars and carbohydrates. Chemically, these sugars get broken down into ethanol (other impurities, like aldehydes and ketones, can also form in poorly made home-brewed “moonshine”).

The problem is that fermentation never proceeds to 100%. Some fractional amount of sugars and polysaccharides will always be left over in the beverage. These residual sugars appear to be the problem. That’s why when you drink beer, for instance, you fill up. And, if you drink enough beer over a long enough time, you get a “beer belly.”

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