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Drinking Guide for Type 1 Diabetes: Carb Counts for St. Patrick’s Day

Drinking Guide for Type 1 Diabetes: Carb Counts for St Patrick's Day

*This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services. This blog is meant to provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this blog is not a substitute for medical care and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.*

Whether or not someone is living with type 1 diabetes, it is important to be careful and considerate about your alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption is associated with a variety of short- and long-term health risks, like motor vehicle accidents, violence, high blood pressure, and cancer. These risks are increased when alcohol consumption is more frequent and large amounts are consumed.

People with diabetes do not need to avoid alcohol completely, but it is important to educate yourself on how drinking can impact your blood sugars so you and those around you can be safe. Especially on holidays like St. Patrick’s day where alcohol consumption is common, there are a few things you need to bear in mind to make sure you are consuming alcohol as safely as possible.

Alcohol Safety Tips for T1D

Understand How Alcohol Affects Blood Sugar Levels

Moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar levels to rise while excessive alcohol intake can potentially cause dangerously low blood sugars. When consuming alcohol of any kind, the liver will stop working to stabilize blood sugar levels and put all of its effort into metabolizing the alcohol to get it out of your body’s system. This increases your risk of experiencing low blood sugars because your liver will stop releasing glucose into the bloodstream to maintain blood sugar levels.

Consider Eating or Snacking

Making sure you have food in your system can limit the liver's desire to prioritize alcohol metabolism and keep blood sugars relatively stable. Having a meal soon before a night out of drinking can help decrease the potential for low blood sugars occurring. An additional option could be eating a meal or snack while drinking so your body has a sustained energy source.

Space out Drinks

Recommendations for alcohol consumption are 1 drink or less for women and 2 drinks of less for men. If planning to drink more than the recommended amount, consider spacing out drinks throughout the night may reduce the severity of blood sugar fluctuations.

Be Smart

Wear a medical ID. Bring fast and slow acting snacks. Make sure friends know symptoms of low blood sugars. Share blood sugars with your friends. Slow down. Drink water. Be smart. At the end of the day, no one is responsible for your actions or your diabetes management other than yourself. You don’t want to put yourself or anyone else in a potentially life threatening situation.

Know Your Carb Counts

No matter what your drink of choice is, it is important to know what the carb count is so you can take your insulin accordingly. Heavy beers, sweet wine, and mixed drinks can contain quick-digesting carbohydrates that may raise blood sugar levels. Use these estimated carb counts of popular St. Patrick’s Day drinks to help guide you, but always remember to check the label or use a carb counting app to double check.

Carb Counts for Irish Stouts & Ales

10-25g of carbs per 12oz depending on the variety.

5g of carbs per 12oz.


18g of carbs per 12oz.

11g of carbs per 12oz.

Carb Counts in Hard Cider

24-30g of carbs per 12oz depending on the variety.

17-21g of carbs per 12oz depending on the variety.

3-22g of carbs per 12oz depending on the variety.

15g of carbs per 12oz.

Carb Count for Irish Whiskey

0g of carbs per 1oz.

Carb Count for Cream Liquior Baileys

6.5g of carbs per 1oz.


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