Beer Glycemic Index (GI), Glycemic Load (GL), and Insulin Index (II)
The International Tables of Glycemic Index Values study has calculated the mean GI of two different beers to be 104 (1). This makes the glycemic index of beer very high, despite its low carbohydrate content.
Research has found that alcohol speeds up the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, causing the high glycemic index of beer (2).
However, the GI values of beer can significantly differ depending on the variety. Beer with a 4.5% alcohol value from Finland had a GI value of 119, while beer with 4.4% alcohol from the Czech Republic had a GI of 89.
Beer from Australia was found to have a GI of 66±7.
Another study showed the GI of beer with 4.9% alcohol volume from Australia to also be 66 (3).
To find more glycemic index values for over 350 foods, you can visit our page.
Despite the high glycemic index, beer tends to have a lower glycemic load.
The previously mentioned study shows us the mean glycemic load of beer to be 11 per serving size providing 10g of available carbohydrates (1). The serving size would approximately be one 0.33l or 12oz can.
The second study found the glycemic load of beer to be 20 per 671g serving (3). This would be roughtly two 0.33l or 12oz cans.
A glycemic load value of 11 to 19 is considered medium, while values of 20 or above are considered high.
Multiple studies have shown that alcohol weakens insulin sensitivity due to delayed emptying of the stomach (2).
The insulin index of beer has been measured to be 20 (4). This can be considered a low insulin index value.
To learn more about the insulin index and find values for over 140 other foods, visit this page.