When it involves ketogenic dieting and consuming alcohol, there are lots of confusing and different opinions around, and it can drive you to make all sorts of mistakes. One of those difficult areas is how alcohol can fit in with a keto lifestyle. Hopefully, after you read this, you’ll have better knowledge after reading and then able to make sensible decisions on your ketogenic diet journey. Since just because you don’t consume carbs does not mean the end of a social life.
You may be asking yourself can I drink alcohol on keto? The quick answer is of course. One way of thinking about it is to think of it as a once in a while treat the same as you would as eating a cheat meal. As long as you have no medical requirements that would otherwise forbid it, then it’s absolutely okay to consume alcohol in moderation while on a low-carb or keto diet. However, you must be conscious of all the carbohydrates you are drinking which is essentially empty calories.
Alcohol slows Ketosis
Consuming alcohol won’t kick you out of ketosis initially, but it will severely hamper any potential results. If unsure whether you are in ketosis see our post on how to tell if you’re in ketosis. Your body has no way of storing the energy in alcohol, so before your body can use other energy sources, you burn the calories in alcohol first. Alcohol is not stored as glycogen, so you are quickly back into lipolysis after the alcohol is processed. So, while you consume alcohol, everything in your body is on pause, and it’s not processing fats for energy. Weight loss is merely delayed not stopped.
Most people when beginning a ketogenic diet will have to track their macronutrients to be sure to maintain ketosis. The main macros to track that provide us energy during the day are protein 4 calories per gram, fats 9 calories per gram, and carbs 4 calories per gram. If you consume alcohol, you also need to track at 7 calories per gram.
Alcohol is generally thought of as a 4th macronutrient as has calories but contains no nutrition. That’s no vitamins, minerals, only likely fat storage. With alcohol at 7 calories per gram, this should tell you that drinking even the smallest quantities can quickly skyrocket your daily caloric intake and throw you out of ketosis without you getting past the first round. No problems, be sure that consuming alcohol on a ketogenic diet can be achieved if done correctly and increase your chances to stay in ketosis.
What alcohol to drink on keto
There’s no real best type of alcohol to drink on a ketogenic diet, but if you’re going to drink something, then the best bet would be to consume spirits and liquors which are low in carbs or carb free. Some of the worst intoxicating beverages to drink are beers, ciders, alcopops and sweet wines. It’s essential to count the total carbs if you are consuming these.
As a rule, most hard liquors that are clear in color are pretty much keto friendly and have zero carbs if drank on their own or on the rocks. Avoid flavored beverages with added syrups and sugars and always stick to the original whenever possible. If it tastes sweet then no doubt it’ll be sugary and keto unfriendly. We’ve included some of the best alcohol options for a keto diet below.
Sadly for beer enthusiasts, this yeasty beverage made from barley, hops, and water is very high in carbs and calories. Ideally, you want to avoid at all costs, but if it’s your choice of drink, then the light beers are the way to go.
Wine can be great to drink in moderation for health benefits, antioxidants, and procyanidins. Carb content can vary based on any number of factors, but dry wines will always be better than sweet wines due to lower sugar content. Red wine will typically have the lowest carb count of any wines. A typical glass of wine at dinner would set you back around 3g-5g of carbs.
Let’s face it, if you were drinking spirits, it would be much easier to combine it with a mixer to avoid over drinking and messing with your macros. The following mixers are safe to consume on a low carb diet with your beverages.
• Diet Cokes, Pepsi Max, and other sugar-free colas
• Diet Tonic water (Goes well with Gin, Vodka)
• Perrier Sparkling water
• Sugar-free energy drinks such as Rockstar, Red Bull, No Fear, etc
• Soda water
• Seltzer water
• Other diet sodas
Alcohol and Hydration
An important thing to remember on keto is to stay hydrated. Consuming alcohol especially strong drinks such as liquors and spirits will lead to dehydration and will drain the body of much-needed water. Drinking more water than usual is therefore essential if you choose to drink alcohol. Aim for an extra glass of water or two per 1 alcoholic drink you have. This decreases the chances of a hangover and reduces the likelihood of suffering from keto flu. Check our ketogenic diet food list for foods to eat and drink.
Remember alcohol is basically a poison, and long-term use will damage your internal organs especially the liver and kidneys. Your liver is incapable of dealing with alcohol and processing it for energy. High amounts over the long term contribute to fatty accumulation in the liver, and can eventually develop alcoholic liver cirrhosis.
Alcohol can also have a negative impact on your mental health (1). Just think of your head spinning after a few drinks and doing that repeatedly for years on end. People with addictive personalities should refrain from drinking any alcohol, period. That one drink will just lead to another and another preventing any success following a low carb diet.
In addition, long-term alcohol consumption significantly heightens the risk of several forms of cancer (2). It makes you wonder why to consume alcohol on a keto diet or any diet for that matter
Consuming Alcohol on a Ketogenic Diet
Conclusively, you have to question yourself why you want or need to drink alcohol. If you can solve that issue, and, if consuming the hard stuff doesn’t hinder your progression, then it’s ok to have in moderation. If it’s stopping you from achieving your goals, then you should avoid it.
When keto-adapted, you may notice your alcohol tolerance is dramatically lower than normal, so please adjust intake accordingly particularly if you’re driving. Do not drink and drive and be very careful when on a keto diet and drinking alcohol.
Drinking too much booze can also lead to a deadly condition called ketoacidosis. This is when there are dangerously high levels of ketones in the blood. It usually happens to people who have not eaten food and drunk large quantities of alcohol in a short period.
If you are eating a ketogenic diet for weight loss, you should definitely look to avoid alcohol completely. Consuming alcohol will only slow down fat loss since the ethanol in alcohol will be the body’s first choice of fuel instead of other nutrients absorbed.
Thanks for reading, please share this blog post so people can make an informed decision with drinking alcohol on low carb dieting.