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Can You Drink Wine on Keto? Alcohol and Ketosis

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Can you drink wine on keto? In short, you should avoid all wine on keto. But the full answer isn’t as simple as you may have hoped.


Dry wine contains fewer carbs than sweet varieties, but that doesn’t mean it won’t interfere with ketosis. Whenever you consume alcoholic drinks, your liver prioritizes alcohol detoxification over other metabolic processes, including fat-burning.


Learn why drinking even low-carb alcoholic beverages can slow down keto success and why it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. 

Women holding a glass of wine

Can you drink wine on keto?


Overall, it’s best to avoid wine on keto. 


Whether you can drink wine on a ketogenic diet doesn’t just depend on its carb content.  


All alcoholic beverages, including wine, contain ethanol produced by fermenting high-carb grains, sugar cane, or grape sugar. Not all carbohydrates are broken down during fermentation, leaving residual carbs in the final product. 


Wines with a high residual sugar content, also called sweet wines, contain as much as 25 grams of carbs per five-ounce serving (150 milliliters) and can quickly push you out of ketosis.


In contrast, dry wine contains significantly fewer carbs, typically around four grams per serving.


“It may seem that drinking low-carb wine on a ketogenic diet won’t interfere with ketosis as long as you monitor your net carb intake. However, this isn’t accurate,” says Dr. Berg.


Ethanol is a volatile organic compound that your body perceives as a toxin. Whenever ethanol enters your circulation, the liver prioritizes alcohol detoxification over most other metabolic processes, which interrupts fat-burning and ketone production.  


Research published in The Journal of Hepatology found that drinking alcohol deactivates liver enzymes needed for the breakdown of fats, meaning that your liver can’t produce ketones as long as ethanol is present. This also explains why individuals who regularly consume alcohol are at increased risk of fatty liver disease


Drinking even moderate amounts of low-carb alcohol can stop weight loss and ketosis and negates many of the metabolic benefits of a high-fat diet.


Watch the video below to learn more about the potentially harmful effects of alcohol.   

White wine vs. red wine: which has fewer carbs?


While white wine tends to have slightly fewer carbs than red wine, it depends on the exact type of wine you are drinking. 


Most dry red wines, such as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and merlot, contain around four grams of carbs per five-ounce serving, which is similar to the carb content of dry white wine varieties, including sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and pinot blanc.


Sparkling wine labeled “extra brut” contains around two grams of carbs per five-ounce serving. However, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean it’s a keto-friendly wine due to its ethanol content and subsequent effects on fat burning.


Here are some high-carb wines that you should avoid on a keto diet:

  • Ice wine

  • Fortified wines 

  • Dessert wines 

  • Late-harvest wines such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer 

  • Port wines

  • Wine coolers with added sugars 

Refusing glass of alcohol

Are there health benefits to drinking wine?


Despite the alcohol industry's substantial efforts to promote wine as a heart-healthy and beneficial beverage, scientific evidence published in the Journal of Internal Medicine overwhelmingly concludes that alcohol does not provide any health benefits.


If you ever enjoyed too much alcohol, you may be familiar with the adverse effects of alcohol. Alcohol slows down your body’s ability to produce energy, causes dehydration, depletes nutrients, and impairs brain function. 


Because alcohol suppresses fat burning, it significantly increases the risk of excess body weight, metabolic imbalances, and fatty liver disease, a primary risk factor for cirrhosis and liver failure.


And, what’s more, a significant percentage of people are sensitive to natural compounds and additives in wine associated with a wide range of health issues.


Both red and white wine contain sulfites, a common preservative used to extend wine’s shelf-life that can trigger symptoms such as headaches, vision problems, hives, dizziness, and nausea.  


Alcohol consumption increases cancer risk and is a main contributing factor to premature death. 


In fact, a study published in Nature found that individuals who abstained from alcohol lived, on average, seven years longer than regular drinkers.


Man reading a wine label

Can you drink low-carb alcohol on keto?


Alcohol isn’t considered keto-friendly. Dry wine, light beer, and hard liquor such as vodka, rum, tequila, and gin are generally low in carbohydrates. However, they all contain ethanol and, as such, can impact your metabolic state and slow down fat burning. 


And, what's more, ethanol contains seven calories per gram, almost double the amount of one gram of carbs. If you are doing keto to lose weight, drinking alcohol can significantly interfere with your weight-loss goal.


Low-carb alcohols such as spirits are often served as mixed drinks and contain sugary sodas or fruit juices, making them some of the worst alcoholic drinks on the keto diet.


If you enjoy the occasional glass of wine, it’s best to choose low-carb options such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or pinot noir and avoid sweet wines high in carbs that quickly push you out of ketosis.


It’s also important to remember that alcohol can cause carb and sugar cravings. Given that ethanol also impairs self-control and judgment, drinking any alcoholic beverage can result in overeating high-carb foods and exceeding your daily net carb count.

Thumbs down to alcohol

Key takeaways


Can you drink wine on keto? The answer isn’t straightforward and depends on more than just the carb content of wine.


Generally, you should avoid wine on keto. While dry wines may be low in carbs, they contain ethanol which impairs your liver's ability to burn fat and interferes with ketosis. 


While it’s generally not recommended to drink wine on the keto diet, the occasional glass of dry wine may be okay as long as you are aware that alcohol can disrupt ketosis and may slow down weight loss.  



FAQ


1. What type of wine is keto-friendly?

None—all types of wine contain ethanol which interferes with fat-burning and disrupts ketosis. However, if you do enjoy the occasional glass of wine, you should opt for low-carb options such as pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or pinot noir. 


2. How much wine can I drink on keto?

How much wine you can drink on keto depends on the carb content of the wine, your metabolism, and how efficiently your liver detoxifies alcohol. 


Dry wines contain around four grams of carbs per five-ounce serving. While this may not exceed your daily net carb count, ethanol impacts your liver’s ability to burn fat, and drinking any amount of wine can lead to weight gain and counteracts keto’s metabolic benefits. 


3. Will wine kick you out of ketosis?

Yes, drinking wine can kick you out of ketosis. 


Because ethanol is perceived as a toxin, your liver prioritizes alcohol detoxification. This stops fat-burning and ketone production and can kick you out of ketosis. 


4. Can I have two glasses of wine on keto?

If you can drink two glasses of wine while staying in ketosis depends on the type of wine, your metabolism, and your liver’s detoxification capacities. 


While some people may be able to consume two glasses of wine without significant metabolic changes, others may be kicked out of ketosis after drinking one glass of wine.  


5. How much alcohol can I drink on keto?

Alcohol’s effects on ketosis can vary among individuals. While some individuals are more resilient to alcohol's impact on metabolism and fat burning, others may experience a disruption in ketosis even after consuming just one alcoholic beverage.


6. Is wine healthy?

Despite impressive marketing strategies trying to convince consumers that wine is a health-promoting drink, the scientific evidence overwhelmingly concludes that alcohol has no health benefits. 


Alcohol increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and liver failure and is linked to nutrient deficiencies, cognitive issues, and weight gain. 


7. Is white wine or red wine healthier on a keto diet?

Neither white nor red wine is considered healthy on the keto diet. Alcohol impairs fat burning, causes weight gain, increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and nutrient deficiencies, and can lead to dependency.


If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to assess your situation and find appropriate treatment options.


8. Can I drink low-carb alcohol on a low-carb diet?

Drinking low-carb alcohol such as dry wine, light beer, and hard liquor may not exceed your daily net carb count. 


However, all alcohol contains ethanol which disrupts your liver's ability to burn fat and produce ketones and can kick you out of ketosis. 

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