Can you drink red wine on keto diet?

The ketogenic (keto) diet has become incredibly popular in recent years as a way to lose weight and improve health. This low-carb, high-fat diet puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, which causes you to burn fat for energy instead of carbs.

Many people want to know if you can drink alcohol like red wine while following a keto diet. Red wine contains carbohydrates, which could potentially kick you out of ketosis by raising your carb intake. However, drinking moderate amounts of dry red wine may be possible without disrupting ketosis.

Here is a detailed look at red wine on keto and how to make it work.

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It typically limits carbs to 20–50 grams per day. This is usually around 5–10% of total calories (1).

On a keto diet, you primarily get calories from:

  • Protein: 20–35% of calories
  • Fat: 60–80% of calories
  • Carbs: 5–10% of calories

By severely restricting carb intake, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. During ketosis, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy to the brain.

Ketosis generally involves:

  • Blood ketone levels between 0.5–3.0 mmol/L. Anything over 0.5 mmol/L is considered ketosis (2).
  • Rapid weight loss until you reach a healthy body fat percentage. Many studies show keto diets lead to more fat loss than low-fat diets (3, 4).
  • Appetite reduction. Many people notice a marked decrease in hunger on keto diets (5).

The keto diet has strong benefits for many health conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and more (6, 7, 8, 9).

However, it’s unclear whether the keto diet is sustainable and healthy long term.

Carbs in Red Wine

The carbs in wine come from residual sugar left over after the fermentation process turns grape juice into alcohol. Dry wines contain very little residual sugar and carbs.

The carb content in 5 ounces (150 ml) of red wine averages around 4 grams. The exact amount can range from under 1 gram to over 4 grams depending on the type (10).

Here’s how the carb count breaks down for 5 ounces (150 ml) of a few popular red wine varieties (11, 12, 13, 14):

Type of Wine Grams of Carbs
Dry red wine (cabernet sauvignon) 3.4 grams
Medium dry red wine (merlot) 3.7 grams
Sweet red wine (shiraz, zinfandel) 4.4 grams

The sweeter the wine, the more residual sugar and carbs it contains. Dry wines have the lowest amount of carbs.

Certain types like merlot, shiraz and zinfandel tend to be sweeter. Cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and sangiovese are typically dry.

That said, the sweetness can vary depending on factors like the grape’s ripeness when harvested and fermentation practices. Check the label for carb and sugar info.

Dry red wines have fewer carbs than:

  • Beer: 12–15 grams per 12 ounces
  • Sweet wine: 7–10 grams per 5 ounces
  • Dessert wine: 9–18 grams per 3.5 ounces

Can You Drink Red Wine on Keto?

Drinking small amounts of dry red wine occasionally may fit into a keto diet. However, wine choices need to be very carb-conscious.

Even though dry red wine is relatively low carb (about 4 grams per glass), calories can add up fast if you drink multiple glasses.

Here are some tips on drinking red wine keto-style:

Choose Dry Red Wine

Stick with dry red wine varieties like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and merlot. They have fewer carbs than sweet reds.

Check labels and avoid red wines over 0.5 grams of residual sugar per ounce. For a 5-ounce glass, aim for under 2.5 grams total.

Sweet reds like shiraz, zinfandel and port have too many carbs to fit a keto diet.

Watch Your Portions

Even dry red wine has enough carbs that just 1–2 glasses would fulfill your daily carb limit on keto.

To stay under 20 grams of carbs per day, limit wine to:

  • 1 glass (5 ounces) for women
  • 1–2 glasses for men

If you’re following a more moderate keto diet at 50 grams of carbs per day, you may be able to have two to three glasses.

Keto alcohol tolerance seems to vary by the individual. Find your personal carb limit.

Mind Your Alcohol Intake

Red wine is pretty low in alcohol compared to spirits like whiskey or vodka.

However, alcohol itself can affect ketosis. Too much may inhibit ketone production in your liver.

For healthiest results, avoid having more than two drinks per day — if you choose to drink at all.

Also, avoid getting into ketosis via fasting and then drinking. Ketosis combined with alcohol can lead to ketoacidosis, a dangerous metabolic condition (15).

Pair Wine With Fatty Foods

Having carbs alongside fat helps mitigate the effects on blood sugar and ketosis.

Pair your red wine with fatty meats, cheese or olive oil. A glass of cabernet with steak or lamb chops makes a great keto match.

Skip Wine During Your First Month

It may be best to avoid wine during your first month on keto while you’re adapting to this new way of eating and becoming fat-adapted.

After the initial month, adding an occasional glass of dry red wine shouldn’t inhibit ketosis or weight loss if you account for carbs and alcohol content.

Stay Hydrated

Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing you to lose fluids and electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

Being dehydrated is one way alcohol hinders ketosis (16).

Drink plenty of water and add electrolytes to offset the effects of wine. Making keto-friendly low-carb wine spritzers can help.

Dry Red Wine May Be Possible in Moderation

Dry red wine has fewer carbs than other alcoholic drinks.

In moderation, dry red varieties like cabernet and pinot noir may fit into your macros and ketosis on a keto diet.

However, they’re still high enough in carbs that you have to carefully watch your portions, sugar content and overall alcohol intake. Avoid sweet varieties of red wine.

Make sure to stay hydrated with electrolytes and account for the carbs in wine when tracking your daily intake.

Pair wine with high-fat foods to lessen the effects on insulin and ketosis. Consider skipping or limiting wine during your first month on keto while adapting to the diet.

Overall, an occasional glass of dry red wine can be part of a keto lifestyle, but moderation is key.

Other Low-Carb Alcoholic Drinks

Besides dry wines, other alcoholic beverage options can fit a keto diet in moderation.

Here are some of the top low-carb drinks to enjoy sensibly:

Dry White Wine

Like dry reds, dry white varieties such as sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot grigio work on keto. Limit to 4 ounces.


Brut, extra brut and ultra brut champagnes are all pretty low carb, with under 1–2 grams per 4-ounce glass. Avoid sweeter varieties.

Light Beer or Michelob Ultra

Light beer has around 5 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. Michelob Ultra has 2.6 grams. Keep intake moderate.

Pure Spirits

Spirits like vodka, gin, tequila, rum and whiskey contain 0 grams of carbs. Mix with low-carb mixers.

Low-Carb Wine Coolers

Combine dry white wine or champagne with seltzer and fruit like berries, lemon and lime.

Bloody Mary or Vodka Martini

Made with tomato juice or vermouth, these cocktails fit keto diets at around 5 grams of carbs each.

Foods to Avoid on Keto

If you choose to drink alcohol on keto, avoid mixers and drinks high in carbs.

Here are the worst keto alcohol choices:

  • Beer: Carbs range from 10–20 grams per serving.
  • Mixed drinks: Sweet sodas, juices and syrups add too many carbs.
  • Sweet wine: Dessert wines have 9–18 grams of carbs per small glass.
  • Sweet liquors: Avoid cordials, schnapps, liqueurs, flavored rums or vodka with added sugar.
  • Wine coolers: Flavored malt beverages have 15–30 grams of carbs.

Also be cautious with:

  • Low-carb beer: May contain extra fillers and sweeteners.
  • Diet soda: Artificial sweeteners can raise cravings and hunger.
  • Tonic water: Contains up to 15 grams of carbs per serving.

Potential Health Concerns

Drinking moderate amounts of dry red wine may provide some health benefits.

Red wine contains antioxidants like resveratrol, which may:

  • Protect against heart disease (17).
  • Lower blood pressure (18).
  • Reduce inflammation (19).
  • Help manage blood sugar levels (20).

However, any potential benefits only apply to moderate intake, which is defined as one 5-ounce glass per day for women and one to two glasses per day for men (21).

Too much alcohol comes with many health risks, including liver disease, pancreatitis, certain cancers, depression and more (22).

Plus, drinking wine makes it harder to stick to keto due to the carb and calorie intake. Overdoing alcohol can slow down your progress.

Who Should Avoid Alcohol

Here are some people who should avoid all alcohol:

  • Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
  • People with a history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism.
  • Individuals with liver disease or hepatitis.
  • People with certain medical conditions made worse by alcohol.
  • Anyone on medication that interacts with alcohol.
  • Recovering alcoholics.
  • Children and young people under age 21.

If you have diabetes, joint pain, acid reflux, headaches or other conditions, check with your doctor before consuming wine.

Bottom Line

Dry red wine is one of the lowest-carb alcoholic drinks. In small servings, it may be possible to drink on the keto diet. However, moderation is key.

Red wine has enough carbs that you still need to limit your consumption and carefully choose dry varieties. Track your daily net carbs and calories, including what you drink.

Pair wine with high-fat foods, avoid going overboard and stay hydrated. Consider avoiding wine during your first month on keto while adapting to low carbs.

Overall, the occasional glass of dry red wine can fit into a healthy keto lifestyle for some people. Just be mindful of how it affects your body.

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