Alcohol on the keto diet – how it works and what to drink
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Alcohol is something a lot of people enjoy drinking for a variety of reasons. It could be at a club, a neighbourhood party, a family gathering, or just at home when chilling out a bit. Regardless, alcohol is consumed on quite a large scale globally.
When adopting a new diet or lifestyle, we at times need to let go or adjust some of our old habits or hobbies either temporarily or permanently. Alcohol usually falls under that spectrum.
But what does going keto mean for those who consume alcohol. On the keto diet, you are meant to reduce your carb intake to a certain point to be able to enter the state of ketosis. But what and how does alcohol affect this and what exactly can be done?
This guide examines the role of alcohol on keto, how it works, what you need to know and of course, the best and worst keto alcohol drinks you can have. Let’s dive in.
Alcohol and the keto diet
Alcohol is a psychoactive drink, whose main ingredient is ethanol. Different types of alcohol like beers, wine or liquor contain different amounts of the ethanol, alongside other ingredients to make it taste better or enhance “experience”.
It can be made from certain fruits and vegetables as in the case of wine, or grains as in the case of beer. The main end product is ethanol and CO2. Depending on the type of alcohol and how it is made, alcoholic drinks can contain a wide range of carbs.
The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet, where you have to limit your daily carb intake to a certain point to allow you enter the state of ketosis. Basically, you need to be getting about 30g of net carbs per day.
But how does alcohol affect the keto diet?
Unfortunately, a lot of alcoholic drinks are rich in carbs and therefore could kick you out of ketosis quicker than you would expect. But that doesn’t mean you have to forfeit drinking alcohol on keto.
There are tons of keto friendly alcoholic drinks you can enjoy in moderation and still stay in ketosis without necessarily ruining your progress.
But note the emphasis on “moderation”. This is because binge drinking isn’t the best idea, and not just for the keto diet but for any style of eating and your health in general.
Before we continue and list out the best and worst keto alcohol drinks, it is important to point out possible effects and other important things you should note when drinking alcohol on keto.
How alcohol can affect your results
If you are using the keto diet for weight loss, your level of alcohol intake can definitely affect your results even if it is a “keto friendly” drink. That’s why I recommend drinking in moderation (more on that later).
Here are some ways your alcohol intake can affect your results on the ketogenic diet.
It is loaded with empty calories
Empty calories are still calories nonetheless. Unfortunately, alcohol is rich in empty calories, meaning it contains calories but without important and essential nutrients your body needs.
And to lose weight effectively, you need to consume less calories than you burn. The keto diet already makes you do this default so you don’t have to worry about counting calories and all.
But by drinking large volumes of alcohol on keto, even if it’s a keto friendly type can close up your calorie deficit and slow down or stop your weight loss. Or worse still, make you consume more calories than you burn, leading to weight gain.
In addition to the additional calories consumed, since they are basically without much nutritional content, nutritional deficiencies may soon begin to creep in.
So if weight loss is your primary objective on the ketogenic diet, it’s important to remember that alcohol does contain empty calories which can affect your goals if it is over-consumed.
It can reduce fat burning
Consuming alcohol in large amounts can slow down or even stop fat burning in your body and this isn’t just in the case of closing up your calorie deficit. It’s a bit more than that.
You see, alcohol is usually referred to as the fourth macronutrient. This is because when you drink alcohol, your body focuses on metabolizing it for fuel before turning to any other available nutrient.
When trying to lose weight, you want your body burn your fat stores. An excess intake on alcohol makes your body shift its metabolism temporarily which isn’t ideal for someone trying to get their body to use up its fat stores.
How alcohol can affect your brain
Alcohol can have certain effects on your brain. Some aren’t exactly good or bad. It’s more up to you depending on how you intend to use it. Here are some ways alcohol can affect the brain.
You’ll get drunk faster
If you’re going to be drinking some alcohol on keto, you can expect a lower alcohol tolerance, meaning you’ll get drunk faster. This is because originally, having lots of glucose in your body helps to slow down the metabolism of alcohol.
On the ketogenic diet, your carb intake is reduced, meaning less glucose in your bloodstream, which means alcohol will be metabolized quicker. This could lead to you getting drunk faster.
It could be a good thing for someone who’s let’s say at a club trying to go crazy and get lit quickly. But not the best idea at a family gathering with your fiancée’s mom around or something like that.
So on the keto diet, you can expect a lower alcohol tolerance and possibly worse hangovers. Please do not drink and drive and always take care.
Excessive drinking can lead to addiction
This applies to a general perspective and not just on the keto diet. Alcohol can trigger dopamine release in your brain. Dopamine is one of your body’s feel good hormone.
Excessive drinking can make your dopamine glands less sensitive, leading to the need to drink more, and do drink more often. In summary, drinking too much alcohol can lead to addiction.
So regardless of what diet you are on, it’s best to watch your level of drinking so it doesn’t turn addictive.
Now that that’s covered, here are the best and worst alcohol drinks to have on the ketogenic diet.
Alcohol on keto – the best and worst drinks to have
Not all alcohol drinks are created equal. On the keto diet, some are off limits while there are still others you can enjoy occasionally. Here are the best and worst alcohol drinks to have on the keto diet.
Wines are made from crushed and fermented grapes. Fortunately, you can enjoy some nice wine occasionally on the keto diet. Wines have a slightly low carb content, with the driest ones having the lowest carbs.
Red and white wines have been shown to contain certain health benefits, especially red wine. The health benefits of red wine include
- Reduced risk of heart diseases
- Increase in HDL cholesterol, usually known as the good cholesterol
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Improved cognitive function and others
White wine is also good and shares some of the benefits of red wine as well. Typically, dry wines can contain about 3 to 4 grams of carbs per serving, with one serving being 5 fluid ounces.
So there is definitely a way to incorporate them into your keto diet and enjoy their benefits. Here are some of the keto friendly red and white wine options you can enjoy
|Red Wine||Serving size (amount per serving)||Net carbs|
|Pinot noir||5 fl. Oz||3.4g net carbs|
|Merlot||5 fl. Oz||3.69g net carbs|
|Amarone della Valpolicella||5 fl. Oz||2.4g net carbs|
|Barbera||5 fl. Oz||4.1g net carbs|
|Cabernet||5 fl. Oz||3.8g net carbs|
|Malbec||5 fl. Oz||3.8g net carbs|
|Rioja||5 fl. Oz||3.4g net carbs|
|Sangiovese||5 fl. Oz||3.85g net carbs|
|Shiraz||5 fl. Oz||3.8g net carbs|
|Zinfandel||5 fl. Oz||4.2g net carbs|
|Red table||5 fl. Oz||3.84g net carbs|
|White wine||Serving size (amount per serving)||Net carbs|
|Brut Champagne||5 fl. Oz||2.7g net carbs|
|Chardonnay||5 fl. Oz||3.2 g net carbs|
|Gewurztraminer Wine||5 fl. Oz||3.84g net carbs|
|Marsanne||5 fl. Oz||4g net carbs|
|Pinot Grigio||5 fl. Oz||3.8g net carbs|
|Pinot blanc||5 fl. Oz||2.85g net carbs|
|Sauvignon Blanc||5 fl. Oz||3.0g net carbs|
|Riesling||5 fl. Oz||5.5g net carbs|
|Semillon||5 fl. Oz||4.6g net carbs|
|Viognier||5 fl. Oz||4.9g net carbs|
Liquors and spirits usually contain about 35 – 40% pure alcohol and usually zero carbs, making them keto friendly. So you don’t have to worry about carbs when taking a shot of vodka every now and then.
Spirits and liquors on the keto diet include;
However, even though liquors and spirits may contain zero carbs, some flavoured versions can contain carbs, so you need to watch out for them. The unsweetened ones usually have zero or next to nothing carbs.
Another thing to watch are your mixers. Chances are, you’d want to mix your liquors with something, maybe for better taste or just for the fun of it.
A lot of mixers are packed with sugar and would end up defeating the whole purpose of a keto-friendly drink. However, there are still a couple of low carb mixers you can use on the keto diet.
Keto friendly alcohol mixers
- Diet soda
- Sugar-free tonic water
- Crystal Light drink mix
- Iced tea with no sugar
Beer is one of the most consumed alcoholic drinks in the world. It can be brewed from rice, wheat, barley or other cereal grains. When choosing alcohol on keto, beer is something to be careful about too.
Normal beer can contain about 12g per serving with sweeter versions having much higher carbs. A serving of beer is 12 fluid ounces (12 fl. Oz).
This isn’t really viable on a keto diet, so your regular beers are not keto friendly. However, certain light beers contain lower carbs and can be enjoyed on keto. Here are a couple of keto friendly beers.
|Low carb beer||Serving size (amount per serving)||Net carbs|
|Budweiser Select 55||12 fl. Oz||1.8g net carbs|
|Natural Light||12 fl. Oz||3g net carbs|
|Genesee Light||12 fl. Oz||4g net carbs|
|Milwaukee’s Best Light||12 fl. Oz||3g net carbs|
|Michelob Ultra||12 fl. Oz||2.6g net carbs|
|Corona Premier||12 fl. Oz||2g net carbs|
|Miller Lite||12 fl. Oz||3g net carbs|
|Miller 64||12 fl. Oz||2g net carbs|
|Busch Light||12 fl. Oz||3g net carbs|
|Beck’s Premier Light||12 fl. Oz||4g net carbs|
|Shiner Ruby Redbird||12 fl. Oz||3.1g net carbs|
|Michelob Ultra-Pure Gold||12 fl. Oz||2.5g net carbs|
|Shiner Ruby Redbird Lager||12 fl. Oz||3.1g net carbs|
|Heineken Light||12 fl. Oz||7g net carbs|
These are just a couple of keto friendly beers. For more on keto friendly beers, we recommend checking out these resources.
- 20 Best Low-Carb Craft Beers for Keto Diets – the beer connoisseur
- 17 Low Carb Beers: A List of the Best Options – nutrition advice
So when next you’re craving some alcohol on keto, there are tons of options for you to choose from and still remain in ketosis. Here are some extra tips to note
Alcohol on keto – extra tips to note
- Low carb doesn’t mean low calorie – there are tons of low carb options, even zero carb options like vodka and rum. But they still contain calories which can add up and close up your calorie deficit, slowing down weight loss.
- Moderation is key – regardless of carb content, consuming alcohol in moderation is the best option. And not just for the keto diet, but for your health in general. Excess consumption of alcohol can lead to addiction, weight gain as well as other health problems. So moderation is key here.
- Expect lower tolerances – another feature of alcohol on keto is the lower tolerance. As said earlier, you can expect to get drunk quicker which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you use it. Please remember to drink responsibly.
- Quality matters too – not all alcoholic drinks were created equal. Drinks like red and white wine offer will you more health benefits than your low carb beer, even though they both contain alcohol. The choice is yours.
Summing it all up
On a low carb diet, you may need to cut out certain alcoholic drinks, but not to worry. There are lots of keto friendly options you can enjoy on the keto diet without falling off ketosis.
There are lots of keto friendly beer, wine and liquors you can have. Pure liquors like vodka, rum and whiskey usually contain 0g net carbs, so that’s a plus.
Although you have to be careful when mixing them as lots of mixers are high in carbs, there are also low carb mixers you can try. Most beers are high in carbs but there are still keto friendly options to enjoy.
Dry wines usually contains about 3-4g net carbs per serving so they can be enjoyed in moderation. There are lots of keto friendly wines to enjoy, which also offer you certain health benefits.
When drinking alcohol on the keto diet, you can expect to get drunk quicker, and since alcohol contains calories as well, it can slow down weight loss if overconsumed. Moderation is the best option here.
For someone trying to lose weight, it might be best to avoid alcohol on keto completely until you reach your desired weight. But if you want, you can still enjoy a glass of wine every now and then.
All in all, you can enjoy lots of alcoholic drinks on the keto diet and still be in ketosis and lose weight as you desire.
Remember to drink wisely. Cheers.
P.S… feel free to check out our free keto resources and keto diet recommendations to help you with everything you need to succeed on keto.
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