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Ask the Diet Doctor: Wine on a Low-Sugar Diet


Q: If I’m avoiding sugar, can I still drink wine?

A: Yes, even if you’re cutting back on carbs and sugars, there’s still a place for an evening glass of pinot noir in your diet. [Tweet this good news!] I have yet to find a client (outside of extreme competition dieting) who needed to eliminate wine completely in order to reach any sort of health goal. 

Not that you need another reason to drink vino, but it is actually healthy for you. Some population-based studies show a relationship between wine intake and improvements in insulin sensitivity. This makes your body more efficient at using carbs, which leads to better health and easier fat loss. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who drank two glasses of wine a day for eight weeks experienced a 7-percent increase in insulin sensitivity. Wine has also long been considered one of the key health-promoting components of the Mediterranean diet.

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There are two things to keep in mind when imbibing on a low-sugar diet.

1. Dry wines contain minimal sugars. Choosing red or white doesn’t matter as much as opting for dry over sweet. Dry wines generally have less than 1 gram (g) of carbohydrates (sugars) per ounce while the carb content of sweet wines can be upwards of 1.5 to 2g per ounce. These sugars can add up quickly: Technically one serving of wine is five ounces, but six to nine ounces is generally more realistic, especially when you’re pouring a glass at home to unwind. However, it is impossible (and unnecessary) to avoid sugar completely, so just adjust your wine intake to fit your personal sugar guidelines.

Dry Reds
Pinot noir: 0.68g carbs per ounce
Cabernet franc: 0.71g
Merlot: 0.74g
Cabernet sauvignon: 0.75g
Shiraz/syrah: 0.76g
Zinfandel: 0.84g

Dry Whites
Pinot blanc: 0.57g carbs per ounce
Sauvignon blanc: 0.6g
Pinot grigio: 0.6g

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2. Spritzers help slash sugar. If you are really watching your sugar intake, switch to a wine spritzer to cut sugars in half. Combine your favorite dry wine with seltzer water in a 1:1 ratio (more seltzer than this dilutes the wine too much). Depending on the wine, a splash of fresh citrus like lemon or lime goes a long way to enhance the flavor. An eight-ounce wine spritzer has even fewer carbs than a Miller Lite, one of the most carb-conscious beers.


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