Looking to cut back on sugar but not sure if that means you need to avoid drinking alcohol? Well, we’ve got good news for you: There are plenty of sugar-free alcoholic beverages for you to enjoy.
Whether you’re committing to the no sugar challenge or just looking to change to a healthier diet, there are lots of options out there for sugar-free imbibing. Coming up, here’s everything you need to know to enjoy a boozy drink at the end of the day without consuming any sugar.
Can You Drink Alcohol On The No Sugar Challenge?
The No Sugar Challenge is a fantastic way to help you eat healthier without totally revamping your diet. Minimizing or even cutting out sugar in your diet can help lower your risk of developing a whole host of chronic health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and obesity.
However, just because you’ve decided to limit your sugar intake doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an adult beverage at the end of the day. Yes, you can drink alcohol on the no sugar challenge, and there are plenty of drinks to choose from!
The trick is knowing what alcohol you can have and what you need to avoid. Up next, we’ll walk you through some of the most popular alcoholic beverages and let you know whether they’re fair game while staying true to a no sugar diet.
Which Alcohol Has The Least Amount Of Sugar?
If you’ve spent enough time walking around a liquor store, you’ll know that there are hundreds of choices when it comes to alcohol. But, when it comes to the lowest sugar content, not all adult beverages are created equal. Here’s the low down on each kind of alcohol and what they mean for your blood sugar levels:
Beer is a mixture of water, grain, yeast, and hops. It has no added sugars, but because it is a grain-based alcohol, it is quite high in carbohydrates. So, while beer is technically okay to drink on the no sugar challenge, be wary of the calorie count (especially stouts and porters). Try to steer clear of any flavored beers as most breweries will add some sugar or syrup to create those unique tastes.
Like beer, wine isn’t made with any added sugar so they are still okay for no-sugar fanatics. However, some types of wine have more natural sugars than others, namely sweet wines and fortified wines (e.g., port and sherry). Alternatively, suitable dry wine varieties to try (if you’re looking to minimize your overall sugar consumption) include:
- Cabernet sauvignon
- Pinot Grigio
- Pinot blanc
- Sauvignon blanc
- Pinot noir
Now, mead is where things start to get tricky. Mead is made from honey, which is naturally quite high in sugar. However, honey is a natural sweetener, so it does offer several health benefits that you won’t find when you consume regular processed cane sugar.
Technically, if you’re following the no sugar challenge, you should steer clear of natural sweeteners, too, so mead wouldn’t be a good option. It’s also another high-calorie drink, with a high carbohydrate quantity because of all that natural sugar. There is generally no added sugar in mead, so if you’re just looking to avoid highly processed foods, then there’s no problem with a little tipple at the end of the day.
Saké is a type of fermented rice beverage that’s highly popular in its native Japan. Even if you don’t keep saké in your home bar, you can usually buy a bottle or a few shots at your favorite sushi restaurant when you’re dining out.
Like mead, saké isn’t made with added sugars. But, white rice is naturally high in carbs, which is why saké has a pretty high sugar content when compared to other types of fermented alcohols. Since people generally drink smaller amounts of saké, you’ll typically consume less natural sugar in a single serving of saké then you would with beer or wine.
Hard cider tends to be very high in sugar because it is essentially just fermented apple juice. For the most part, organic hard ciders won’t have added sugars, so they’re the best bet if you’re especially keen on a cider at the end of the day.
That said, it’s best to avoid hard cider if you’re looking to cut down on all sugars. This is particularly true of flavored and non-organic ciders, which may even have added sugars and syrups for extra sweetness.
- Vodka, Whiskey & Gin. Vodka, whiskey, and gin are made from potatoes, grains, corn, and sometimes fruits, and they are naturally very low in sugar. If you drink them neat, these spirits are a reliable option for alcohol with no sugar.
- Rum & Tequila. Rum is made from sugarcane, while tequila is made from the blue agave plant. However, even though they’re both made from sugar, neither rum nor tequila has a high sugar content. In fact, the distillation process reduces the sugar content in these drinks down to about zero.
- Brandy. Brandy is a type of distilled wine customarily served as a digestif with an alcohol percentage up to about 35-60%. So, while brandy is made from sweet grapes, the distillation process reduces its sugar content to pretty much nothing.
- Absinthe & Everclear. Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit, while Everclear is basically just straight distilled alcohol. Since they are both distilled, they have no natural sugar content, regardless of what they’re made from. However, some lower-quality absinthes are bottled with sugar to add flavor, which negates their sugar-free benefits.
“Liqueurs” refers to a vast array of different drinks. All liqueurs are made with distilled spirits (which are sugar-free) but, they’re then combined with fruits, spices, herbs, and, yes, sugar. Some of the most popular liqueurs include:
- Tia Maria
- Angostura Bitters
If you’re looking to cut out sugar, it’s best to avoid liqueurs altogether. While you can probably find a sugar free liqueur out there, it’s probably not worth the hassle of tracking them down unless you really don’t like any of your other options.
Mixers & Cocktails
As you can see, the vast majority of alcohol (besides liqueurs) is low in sugar. But, if you’re looking for a sugar-free alcoholic drink, a cocktail is almost certainly out of the question. Yes, this means mojitos, margaritas, Manhattans, Moscow mules, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Why might you ask? Well, in addition to liqueurs, some mixers – namely, tonic water – are really high in sugar. Tonic water has up to 32g of sugar in a single can, none of which is natural. Also, many mixed drinks are made using simple syrup, which is just a fancy term for sugar water.
Sugar-Free Responsible Drinking
There are plenty of great options for sugar-free alcohol out there if you know where to look. Most alcohols are made without added sugar, with the exception of liqueurs, some ciders, and a small amount of absinthe.
Avoiding mixed drinks is of the utmost importance because these tend to be jam-packed with added sugars. So, enjoy your sugar-free alcohol, but remember to drink responsibly!