Keto and alcohol, can the two go together?
Even I love a drink or two now and then. A nice bottle of wine or a glass of pappy van winkle and you have my attention, but can you drink alcohol on keto and still see results?
One question I get most is can you drink alcohol on the keto diet? You can drink alcohol on keto. In fact, you may even see an increase in your ketone readings after a drink or two. However, some options are better than others and it’s probably best you stay away from most mixed drinks and non-light beers if staying in ketosis is a priority.
Another question pertaining to keto and alcohol I seem to get… the dreaded question of Is alcohol keto?
And just like food, there Is really no such thing as “keto drinks” or “keto foods.” There may be options that are more keto friendly, but no food or drink is inherently keto or not keto.
Remember, keto is a metabolic state not a specific group of foods or drinks. Meaning, you can literally eat or drink anything and be in ketosis.1
Keto and alcohol
Many people don’t associate alcohol as containing calories, but as with anything… those calories can add up and sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Alcohol, the fourth macronutrient
Most people are familiar with the three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). What you may not know (or do) is that alcohol is actually the fourth macronutrient.
Broken down by calories per gram:
- Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram
- Protein has 4 calories per gram
- Fat is 9 calories per gram
- Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram
What happens when you drink alcohol on keto?
When alcohol is consumed on a ketogenic diet, less fat loss may be occurring, but only temporarily. Since we process alcohol through the liver, and ketone production occurs in the liver, my educated guess is we will convert less free fatty acids to ketones while the alcohol is being cleared from the body.
Here’s a brief rundown of “keto approved” alcohol you can include on your keto diet.
Low carb beer: While I love me a good craft beer, more than you can imagine… most of them are not as “keto friendly” as other alcoholic options. When consuming beer, it‘s best to stick to light beers such as budweiser select 55, miller 64, michelob ultra, miller lite, etc.
Unfortunately, you can say goodbye to IPAs and stouts if your goal is to stay in ketosis.
Wine: Dry red and dry white wines will carry on average 4-5 net carbs per 5 oz. glass. It’s best you‘re careful with choosing which wine as sometimes they are packed with some added sugars.
I recommend a company by the name of Dry Farm Wines who lab tests different wines to make sure they are all natural, additive-free, and with no added sugars.
In short, a glass of wine can easily fit into your daily routine.
Liquor: Most hard liquors are 40% alcohol (80 proof) and contain zero carbs or added sugars. The problem arises when you want to mix your hard liquor with something sugary.
Hard liquor is your best bet if carbs are a concern, and it’s best to stick to it straight.
Hard Seltzer: Hard seltzers are all the rage as of 2019. The two most notable and keto friendly options are White Claw Hard Seltzer and Truly Hard Seltzer which have, on average, 2 grams of net carbs per 12 oz. can.
Below, you’ll find a more complete breakdown of alcoholic drinks on keto to opt for versus sugar filled mixed drinks that can set you back.
Keto Friendly Liquor
We‘ll start off with hard liquor since it‘s the easiest. Almost ALL hard liquor is carb free, meaning 0 grams of carbs, so it’s almost pointless to give you a list and breakdown of keto friendly hard liquor along with their net carb count.
…. because they all are.
Whether you‘re a keto and whiskey fanatic like me or enjoy yourself some tequila, basically all liquors are carb free so long as you are not putting in any sugary mixers or liqueurs.
Most hard liquors are about ~100 calories and 0 net carbs per 1.5 oz shot.
If you really want to mix it with something I would recommend seltzer water or a sugar-free mixer like zevia mixers.It’s important to note that seltzer water AKA tonic water and club soda are different things. Club soda is full of sugar, so make sure your bartender isn’t pouring that in when you ask for seltzer, sparkling, or water con gas.
Want to learn more about some liquor options from Asia? In particular, sake and soju, the two most popular liquors in Asia.
Keto friendly beer options
If you‘re a craft beer guy like myself, you’ll be sad to know most craft beers ARE NOT keto friendly. If you‘re one of those that like a michelob ultra or a bud light, you may be in luck.
Which in that case, I‘d probably just opt for water.
I kid… kind of.
Unfortunately, with beer, they are all usually packed with carbs making them less than ideal if staying in ketosis is a priority.
However, there are plenty of lower carb options if you want a beer from time to time. Below is a list of some popular “keto-friendly” beers you may indulge in occasionally.
Low carb beer
|Bud Select 55
Keto friendly wine options
Can you drink wine on keto? Except for dessert wines, such as ports and sherries, most red and white wines will set you back ~120 calories and 3-5 net carbs per 5 oz pour making them ok to drink occasionally
Also, the sweeter the wine like a Riesling or Moscato will be higher in net carbs… which makes sense.
Just a fair warning, there may be certain wines (usually cheaper wines) that put in additives or even added sugars so be cautious.
Below is a list of red and white wines along with their calorie and net carb content per 5 oz pour.
Best wine for keto
Why Drinking Alcohol On Keto May Not Be Ideal
If your goal is fat loss, there may be reasons why you may want to avoid alcohol on keto. For starters, your calories can be better spent on solid food rather than liquid…
But I get it, you want to indulge once in a while.
Will impair fat loss… TEMPORARILY
One of the biggest reasons why you should pass up on that glass of wine is that when you consume alcohol, it will almost completely impair the body’s use of fat for fuel. In short, you will temporarily stop burning fat while the alcohol is being cleared from your body.
Can be dangerous… IN EXCESS
Excessive alcohol intake while in ketosis can cause runaway acidosis to develop which is potentially very dangerous. Just like type 1 diabetics risk diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) 2 Alcoholics also risk building up high levels of ketones in their blood whether or not on a ketogenic diet.
Moral of the story… drink in moderation.
You get drunk… QUICKER
This may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you want to look at it.
Stored carbohydrates and carbohydrate-rich food slow down the metabolization of alcohol. Being in ketosis is a surefire way to feel the effects of alcohol much quicker since there‘s less glycogen stored to offset the alcohol.
You may not make the best decisions
Whether keto or not, being alcohol-impaired may lead us to make decisions we might not have otherwise made while sober. This is the part where you find yourself waiting for a slice of pizza or a greasy burrito at 2 am.
You know it‘s true!
Best Tips For Drinking Alcohol On Keto
If you are going to have that occasional drink, try to utilize the principles below. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway… always drink in moderation!
Stick to hard liquor
When in doubt, hard liquor is your best bet. Not only does hard liquor contain virtually no carbohydrates, but you also get more bang for your buck.
Just watch out for sugary mixers if you are mixing your alcohol.
Alcohol causes you to excrete water. On a ketogenic diet, we need to increase our water and electrolyte intake to offset the lack of carbohydrates. 3
Combine the increased water excretion of alcohol along with a ketogenic diet and you may find yourself dehydrated or with an electrolyte imbalance. Try to drink a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages if having more than one.
Going back to hard liquor and mixers… a sugar-free electrolyte drink like Powerade zero might make a good substitution to mix with things like vodka.
Going back to making bad decisions when slightly intoxicated… Sometimes having a game plan for after a night of drinking can save you from “accidentally” bingeing. Having keto friendly options ready to grab might save you from blowing your whole diet.
Keto Alcohol Mixed Drinks
Alcohols and mixers to generally avoid on keto
Dessert wines such as port and sherries are relatively high in carbohydrates with ~10-15g per 3 oz. serving. Not the worst, so if you have a glass be mindful of your portion size.
Sorry ladies, Stella Rosa, Moscato, and Riesling are not your friends when it comes to being low in carbs. Again, if you‘re gonna have a small glass you might still be ok.
But we all know one glass turns into the bottle.
Sangria / Margarita mix
These mixes are usually pure sugar, avoid if possible.
Do people still drink these?
Liqueurs, different from liquor, is usually a combination of syrup and liquor. Some more popular liqueurs include triple sec, baileys, Jagermeister, Grand Marnier, an amaretto.
While most people don’t really drink these straight, they can be mixed with a lot of other drinks to make certain cocktails. A 1.5 oz serving may knock you back a good ~10-20 carbs.
Keto and alcohol… Putting it together
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy a drink or two while on a ketogenic diet, just realize that fat burning will slow down temporarily.
Also, alcohol contains calories and ultimately, you will need a caloric deficit if fat loss is your primary focus.
That said, depending on if you look at it as a good or a bad thing, people report that alcohol affects them more and quicker on a ketogenic diet. People also report some of the worst hangovers after they consume alcohol on keto.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for being a cheap date.
Just remember, there are no long term studies on the effects of alcohol consumption so be responsible.
Do you occasionally have a drink or two while living a keto lifestyle? Let me know your thoughts and comments down below.