When you’re living the keto lifestyle or starting a keto diet, it’s not uncommon to have lots of questions. What are the best sources of fat? Is it hard to maintain it long-term? And my favorite: Can I have a glass of wine on a keto diet?
I’m happy to say: Yes, you can.
That usually prompts another question: What’s the best kind to have?
Before we get to that, I should note that when it comes to any kind of dieting or nutrition plan, moderation is key. Even when you learn the ins and outs of the keto diet—learning about the best foods to eat, learning about intermittent fasting, learning about protein cycling—you still have to consider moderation. That’s because excess calories can be a sledgehammer to your insides, pummeling them with all kinds of bad stuff, like inflammation and fat storage. Now, I also know that eating keto helps keep eating in check, in that you stay satisfied and full of energy for long periods because of the nutrients you’re consuming—and the time when you’re consuming them.
For alcohol, of course, moderation is truly essential. And that goes for wine, too. And while I totally understand the quiet elegance of enjoying a glass of wine after a long day, you have to be careful not to turn that one glass into five of them.
Red wine does have some amazing health benefits—including boosting brain health and heart health—and that comes from the powerful polyphenol called resveratrol. Resveratrol, as you may know, is one of my favorite—and one of nature’s most important—compounds.
There are around 6,000 human studies pointing to the benefits of resveratrol, which comes from the skin of grapes and is therefore naturally found in red wine. Resveratrol is found in many different foods and supplements, but since red wines typically enjoy extended contact time with the grape’s skin during fermentation, they will naturally have higher levels of this heart healthy, antioxidant-rich compound.
It’s the main reason why you hear so many people singing the praises of wine as a health food.
The whole “happy hour” thing can be pretty tricky when on keto, of course. That’s because not only does alcohol have sugar, but—when consumed in larger quantities—can inhibit decision-making (which may not exactly be a good thing when a plate of nachos passes by).
I should also point out that you don’t need to start drinking if you don’t already! But a drink a day? That’s okay.
So I understand the dilemma that you may face, especially if your family and friends haven’t adopted a keto lifestyle (or if their version of a book club that occasionally drinks wine is more like a wine club that occasionally reads a book).
Perhaps you have embraced keto, but you still enjoy your occasional happy hour, or wine with dinner, or clink of the glass with a loved one. My first piece of advice: Don’t obsess over it. If you enjoy some wine from time to time, don’t beat yourself up if you do. I don’t want you to feel deprived and miserable. It’s not that you need wine to feel that way, but if a glass is a nice finish to the day for you, cheers to you!
Here is my overall approach for how you can combine wine and keto—and make the most of those anti-aging benefits that come from resveratrol.
Choose Red Over White. Besides having higher levels of resveratrol, red wine tends to have less sugar than white. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a five-ounce glass of red wine has about 1 gram of sugar, while a glass of chardonnay has about 1.5 grams. A sweet dessert wine may even have more (with some topping 7 grams of sugar for even a smaller pour). The sugar from wine comes from grape juice, but some winemakers may add extra sugar to help with fermentation. I like the benefits of red wine anyway, especially because of the higher concentration of resveratrol.
Limit Your Intake. Drinking alcohol isn’t ideal on keto (because of the sugar), but if you do drink, limit it to one glass (or sometimes two). One of the other reasons why alcohol isn’t great for weight loss: Your liver starts processing alcohol immediately, which means that your regular fat-burning processes are stalled.
Choose Dry Wines. Dry wines have no carbohydrates and very little sugar. This happens when yeasts consume the sugar to produce the alcohol (though they can still contain residual sugar; unfortunately, wines do not list residual sugar on their labels).
Treat Yourself Sometimes. I would advise that you normally avoid sangria, but it’s such a summer treat, I don’t want you to deprive yourself! That’s why I created a keto-friendly resveratrol-packed sangria recipe that you can find here.