No-carb alcohol drinks are free of carbohydrates. You may have chosen a low-carb lifestyle an in effort to lose weight, or to help control diabetes. However, some alcoholic beverages are marketed as being free of carbohydrates, or low in overall carb content. Only certain types of alcohol can truly be classified as no-carb, and these beverages are not necessarily beneficial to your health. Ask your doctor before drinking alcohol, particularly if you take prescription medications.
Regular beers contain the most carbohydrates, with the average level of 12 g per 500 ml. Some “light” versions of beer contain as little as 3 g of carbs. The fermentation processes for both wine and beer will always leave carbohydrates in the finished products, no matter what an advertisement says. David J. Hanson, Ph.D., explains on his website Alcohol Problems and Solutions, that ethyl alcohol is the only form of alcohol that is completely carbohydrate-free, due to the distillation process. Examples of no-carb, ethyl alcohol include rum, gin, brandy and whiskey.
Carbohydrates in alcohol still convert into excess calories. Ethyl alcohols still contain calories. A 15 ml serving of rum has 33 calories. If you drink too many beverages regularly, you will likely experience weight gain over time. Drinking too much of both no-carb and carbohydrate-containing alcohol can cause liver damage, hypertension, heart disease and stroke.
Beer and wine are the leading types of alcoholic beverages in which some manufacturers reduce the carbohydrate level, and then advertise the products as being low in carbs. Such beverages still contain traces of carbohydrates, and won’t be beneficial if you are on a low-carb diet. Hanson explains that your body doesn’t convert alcohol into sugar, so the carbohydrate content of an alcoholic beverage won’t have a significant impact if you are on a specific diet to reduce blood sugar. Nonalcoholic beverages do not provide much relief, and may even contain twice as many carbs as the alcohol-containing versions.
Alcohol is more than a carbohydrate-containing beverage. The focus should be on how alcohol affects your personal health and lifestyle, instead of focusing on the carbohydrate level. Drinking too heavily for a short period of time can have the same impact as heavy drinking over an extended periods. The best course of action is to either drink moderately or not at all. Keep in mind that these recommendations are for healthy men and women. Clarify alcohol consumption limits with your doctor.