Can you drink wine when fasting?

Steph drinking wine on patio

I am not embarrassed to admit that I Google just about anything and everything that piques my interest. Whether it’s related to Crohn’s Disease, health, and fitness or product reviews, recipes, and life in general, I always want to know more. And–trust me–when it comes to Crohn’s, I’ve Googled some interesting things over the years. Anyway, last week when Jeff opened a bottle of wine during my fasting day, I had a decision to make. Can I (should I) have a glass of wine during my fast?

So, during the short window of time that Jeff went into the cellar to pick out a bottle and open it, I turned to Google to see what opinions were out there. Many forum goers were split on their recommendations and, of course, the short answer is no if you’re just trying to fast for the sake of fasting. But there are many different reasons for fasting and many different ways to fast.

Perhaps you just want to fast for 12 hours at a time to reduce how often food is raising your blood glucose and triggering insulin responses throughout the day. Or, maybe you’re doing an extended multi-day fast to try and heal severe metabolic damage. Which means that the complex answer to this question requires you to first know why you are fasting and what you need to do to conduct that fast successfully. Also, keep in mind that your body does not have any way to store alcohol the way it does with excess energy from proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Which means that if you introduce alcohol into your system, your body has to deal with those calories first before it can get back to doing what it was before…burning fat or sugar. 🙂

*** As a side note, if you are interested in knowing all the ins and outs of fasting, I highly recommend The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. It’s easy to read with complete information on various kinds of fasts and a great overview of the benefits of fasting. ***

Since I’m not trying to heal from metabolic damage and my top two reasons for fasting are to give my digestive system periodic breaks, which I find helpful as part of my overall Crohn’s management, and as a tool to improve my body composition, I decided a little experiment was in order. Plus, I love relaxing with a glass of wine. At this point, I was 24 hours in to my planned 36-hour fast. (Note, I do include coffee with 1TB ghee in the morning and bone broth on my fasting days because this works for my goals.) So, once Jeff brought me a glass of wine, I decided I would drink it and make some observations, with the intent to record my results to share them with anyone in the future who may ask herself the same question and stumble upon this post. 🙂

The first thing I noticed, I got hungry. Probably not too surprising, but after not eating anything for 24 hours, having a glass of wine triggered my hormonal responses for hunger. While I enjoyed the glass of wine, it was annoying to fight the urge to snack. About two hours later, I was ready for bed. Because I was feeling hungry–and curious–I decided to check my blood glucose and ketones. The result: my ketone level was so low that it didn’t register anything on the monitor and my blood glucose was 100.

When I first went keto and started monitoring my blood glucose, my normal numbers were in the high 90s–still perfectly fine. As my insulin sensitivity improved on the diet as time went on and I could feel my hormones leveling out throughout the course of a month, I noticed my normal blood glucose levels stayed in the 80s. Finally, after being on some version of keto, carnivore, or keto-carnivore for over a year now, my blood glucose numbers are typically in the 70s and I feel great with lots of energy and very even moods, day to day.

One glass of wine in a fasted state, however, derailed that for me. Not only did my blood glucose jump up, but the next morning I woke up in a funky mood, feeling a little down and very tired. I am guessing at this point my body was probably trying to ramp up ketone production again (since I hadn’t eaten anything and I was back in fasting mode) while the blood glucose was dropping back to its normal range.

The next thing I noticed is that I missed out on the awesome–almost euphoric–feeling that I usually get at about 30-36 hours into my fast. That was disappointing, I really look forward to that feeling. My mind is crystal clear with laser-sharp focus, I’m not hungry, and I just feel good. The wine from the previous night completely undid that.

Finally, my energy started to return late in the afternoon and I decided to break the fast with an evening meal. I was back on track with my regular keto-carnivore diet and lesson learned. While nothing I discovered here was earth shattering, it did answer my question of what would happen to me if I had a glass of wine during my fasting period. Knowing what I know now, I can definitely say that I’m going to save the wine for my charcuterie nights and eating days!

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