|An ongoing series of reports about
the beer world froma variety of
award winning writers.
|Beer’s main type of sugar is maltose, which is made out of two glucose molecules. Hence, it’s classified as a
disaccharide — a type of simple sugar. However, maltose and other simple sugars comprise only about 80%
of the wort’s fermentable sugar content. In contrast, the remaining 20% consists of oligosaccharides, which
the yeast doesn’t ferment Still, your body can’t digest oligosaccharides either, so they are considered calorie-
free and instead act as prebiotic fibers, or food for your gut bacteria.
Therefore, while beer contains a fair amount of carbs, its sugar content tends to be quite low. Beer’s sugar
content may vary depending on its initial gravity and the type of yeast strain used to ferment it. Yet, beer
manufacturers may include other sugar-containing ingredients in their recipes, such as honey and corn
syrup, to give their beer a distinctive flavor.
Nevertheless, labeling regulations for alcoholic beverages in the United States do not requir manufacturers
to report the sugar content of their products. While some state the carb content, most only disclose their
alcohol content. Thus, determining how much sugar your favorite beer contains may be a difficult task.
Here is the sugar and carb contents found in 12 ounces (355 ml) of various mainstream brands
• Regular beer: 12.8 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
• Light beer: 5.9 grams of carbs, 0.3 grams of sugar
• Low carb beer: 2.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
• Non-alcoholic beer: 28.5 grams of carbs, 28.5 grams of sugar
• Miller High Life: 12.2 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
• Miller Lite: 3.2 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
• Coors Banquet: 11.7 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
• Coors Light: 5 grams of carbs, 1 gram of sugar
• Coors Non-alcoholic: 12.2 grams of carbs, 8 grams of sugar
• Heineken: 11.4 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
• Budweiser: 10.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
• Bud Light: 4.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
As you can see, light beers are slightly higher in sugar than regular beers. This may be due to
differences in their fermentation process.Light beers are produced by adding glucoamylase to the wort
— an enzyme that breaks down residual carbs and transforms them into fermentable sugars. This
reduces both the calorie and alcohol contents of the beer.
Additionally, since none of the wort’s sugar is converted into alcohol in non-alcoholic beers, these have
the highest sugar content.Keep in mind that while beer’s sugar content may be low, regular beers are
still a source of carbs, which may affect your blood sugar levels. Furthermore, even without any reported
sugars, beer’s alcohol content is still a significant source of calories.
So what's the bottom line about the relationship between beer and blood sugar? While beer may not
have that much sugar after all, it’s an alcoholic drink, and as such, it can lower your blood sugar levels.
Alcohol impairs sugar metabolism by inhibiting gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis — the body’s
production and breakdown of stored sugar, respectively — which are needed to maintain blood
Therefore, its intake may result in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, which is why it’s
generally recommended to consume it with a carb-containing meal. However, if consumed along with
simple carbs that raise your blood sugar levels too quickly, it may lead to an increased insulin response,
resulting again in hypoglycemia. Additionally, alcohol may interfere with the effectiveness of
hypoglycemic medications (21).
So if you are a beer drinker and worry about your sugar levels here's what's important to remember.
Sugar is a key element in beer brewing, as it’s the nutrient from which yeast produces alcohol.
While a couple of factors influence yeast’s ability to convert sugar into alcohol, it’s highly efficient at doing
so. Therefore, aside from the non-alcoholic types, beer tends to have a low sugar content.
Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages may lower your blood sugar levels. Plus, to avoid negative health
effects, you should always drink alcohol in moderation, which is defined as no more than one and two
standard drinks per day for women and men, respectively.
|BLOOD SUGAR and BEER
bu Silvia Mays.