Can I drink wine?


This is one of the most common questions people ask when they’re contemplating quitting sugar: “Am I allowed to drink alcohol – beer, wine, champagne, spirits etc – on the 8-Week Program?”

The assumption, of course, is that booze is full of sugar. Which is correct. Sort of. But there is good news here for those who like the occasional drink.

  • Wine: Contains minimal fructose. How so? It’s the fructose in the grapes that ferments to become alcohol, leaving wine low in sugar. If the wine has been fermented to ‘dry’ (white or red) it contains very low levels of residual sugar – less than 1g/litre – and in most cases not at a level that can be practically tested. Red wine is lower in fructose than white wine and is definitely the better option. Click here for more info on the sugar content of wine.
  • Champagne or “sparkling”: As above, but champagne does tend to retain quite a lot of the sugar (fructose). Not a great option.
  • Spirits: Dry spirits like gin, vodka and whiskey are very low in fructose. But see the caveat on mixers below.
  • Beer: Doesn’t contain fructose. The sugar in beer and stout is maltose which we can metabolise fine.
  • Dessert Wine: A stack of of sugar remains unfermented. Don’t touch the stuff.

However, there are a few words of caution we need to pass on before you booze up. Alcohol still has a multitude of metabolism and health issues that come with excessive consumption, not to mention it’s an addictive substance.

  • Only ever drink spirits with soda water or neat. Mixers, including tonic water, are full of sugar – about 8-10 teaspoons in one tall glass. Ditto fruit juices.
  • While quitting sugar your liver is under a little strain as you detox. Drinking any more than one glass of alcohol with a meal per day will tax your system.
  • You may also find, once you cut out sugar, that your tolerance for alcohol is much lower and wish to avoid it while going through the 8-Week Program.
  • Although alcohol is low in fructose it is still very high in empty calories.
  • A beer is equivalent to a sausage roll. Two glasses of champagne is the equivalent of about 1/5 of your daily energy intake. Yeah, hurts to hear!

During the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program we allow one glass of wine with dinner, up to five nights a week.

Want to quit sugar and improve your health? You can!
Sarah's next 8-Week Program starts in June 2015.
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