The keto diet is one of the strictest eating plans ever, so it’s no surprise that many people have trouble reaching ketosis. And one of the reasons for this is… Guess what?
Most folks don’t have the slightest idea of what alcohol they can drink on keto!
So even if they do everything right and then meet up with some friends on a Friday night to celebrate their hard-earned ketosis, a single sip of the wrong drink will send them flying back into carb-fueled metabolism.
To help you avoid this awful mistake, let’s take a good look at how to approach alcohol on the keto diet.
The rule of thumb: most clear liquors are keto-friendly. Everything that’s about 40% alcohol is safe to take on the keto diet since it has close to (or exactly) 0 carbs.
Just remember that ”0 carbs” doesn’t mean ”0 calories”, so you’d better keep track of those too.
Is it worth it? Well, that’s up to you. Just keep track of your macros and count your calories.
If clear liquor is safe to drink on the keto diet, a lot of cocktails with hard liquor come packed with a whole bunch of carbs in every glass. Tonic water, soda water, sugary syrups & mixers - the number of dangers for your ketosis is just insane!
A great deal of drink and cocktail mixers contains sugar, so a single drink can easily contain 30, 40, or even 50 grams of carbs. Below you’ll find a brief list of drink ingredients to avoid.
- Triple Sec
- Blue curaçao
- Virtually all ready mixes (margarita mix, whiskey sour mix, etc.)
- All liqueurs (Cointreau, Amaretto, Kahlua, Baileys, etc.)
Just so you can imagine, here’s a quick rundown of the amount of carbs in a single glass of the most dangerous cocktails (for your ketosis, of course) you can find in a bar:
- Fuzzy navel: 38 grams
- Sex on the beach: 30 grams
- Mojito: 25 grams
- White Russian: 18 grams
- Tequila sunrise: 15 grams
And just to be clear: all alcopops are a no-go. One Bacardi Breezer has something close to 40 grams of pure sugar in a single bottle.
The second variety of keto-friendly drinks consists of certain wines. If you’re not a connoisseur, a quite accurate approach is to focus on the taste of the drink: sweet wines (sometimes referred to as dessert wines) are sweet due to their high content of carbs, and thus should be avoided to maintain ketosis.
This is because the ”dryness” of a wine reflects the amount of residual sugar left in the drink. The drier a wine is, the bigger the amount of grape sugar was converted into alcohol during the production of the drink.
Bone-dry - less than 0.5% residual sugar
Dry - 0.5-1%
Semi-dry (medium dry) - 1-2%
Semi-sweet (medium sweet) - 2-3%
Sweet - more than 3% residual sugar
Keto-friendly varieties of red wine include:
- Zinfandel (dry): about 4.2 grams of carbohydrates in a 150 ml glass
- Syrah (dry): 3.8 grams
- Cabernet Sauvignon (dry): 3.8 grams
- Merlot (dry): 3.7 grams
- Pinot Noir (dry): 3.4 grams
Keto-friendly varieties of white wine (including sparkling wine) include:
- Muscat (semi-sweet): 7.9 grams in a 150 ml glass
- Riesling (semi-dry/semi-sweet): 5.54 grams
- Chablis (dry): 5 grams
- Chenin Blanc (dry): 4.9 grams
- Semillon (dry): 4.6 grams
- Pinot Grigio (dry): 3.03 grams
- Chardonnay (dry): about 3.1 grams
- Sauvignon Blanc (dry): 3 grams
- Brut Champagne (dry): 2.8 grams
In general, any wine that tastes sweet is better to avoid on the keto diet. Here’s a brief list of the most dangerous options:
- Madeira: about 20 grams in a 150 glass, sometimes more.
- Sangria: 18 grams
- Port: 18 grams
- Sherry: 17.5 grams
- Vermouth: 17.5 grams
As a rule, most beer brands are far from keto-friendly and it’s hard to make a universal recommendation on this matter, especially since the variety of available beer brands differs GREATLY from one region to another.
You’ll have to check out what’s available in your area and read the nutrition data featured on the bottle.
Nevertheless, here’s a quick list of some keto-friendly beer options:
- Greens Trailblazer
- Budweiser Select 55, Budweiser Select
- Miller 64, Miller Lite
- Rolling Rock Green Light
As a rule, the darker a beer is, the more carbs it contains, but always make sure to check the numbers that matter (carbs and calories).
Since the safest drink option on the keto diet is hard liquor, it’s important to take a quick look at some low-carb chasers and mixers. After all, clear liquor isn’t for everyone, and a lot of people need something to help wash down or mix with their vodka.
-Diet soda (Diet Coke, Coke Zero, etc.)
- Sugar-free energy drinks
- Sugar-free carbonized water
Juices, regular sodas, regular energy drinks - all of these are bad mixers and chasers on the keto diet, so stay alert.
Okay, now that you know what’s okay to drink on the ketogenic diet, let’s take a quick look at the most common problems and dangers related to alcohol on keto. With this information, you’ll be fully armed and ready to face any drinking situation that may come your way.
Alcohol MAY increase food intake
The scientific data concerning alcohol intake and perceived hunger is controversial at the very least. Although most studies affirm that alcohol does NOT increase perceived hunger, most of them also indicate that alcohol actually makes people eat a LOT more.
It’s hard to tell whether that is due to increased hunger, lowered inhibitions, or a temporary mess in the brain’s reward system, the point remains valid: alcohol will make it MUCH harder for you to stick to your macros and daily caloric goals. Just so you know.
Alcohol pauses fat oxidation
No matter what you think of alcohol, your body considers it a poison. So, when alcohol enters your body, all systems will make it their top priority to get rid of the threat, stopping everything that can be stopped until the alcohol is metabolized and flushed out.
For instance, classic studies affirm that alcohol decreases fat oxidation by at least 79% and protein oxidation by about 39%. In other words, while there’s alcohol in your body, it will be used as the body’s preferred fuel - just to get rid of the substance faster. And, of course, alcohol is a fuel much worse than fats and ketone bodies.
Alcohol tolerance is generally much lower on the keto diet
There are no studies at the moment to explain this effect, but most people on the keto diet report decreased alcohol tolerance while they are in ketosis. In other words, you get drunk MUCH easier while you’re in ketosis, so please take care and drink responsibly.
Alcohol plus keto equals super hangovers
It’s easy to get dehydrated on keto, and this means that any hangover you may experience after drinking alcohol will be much, oh so much worse. The solution? Drink as much water as possible - before, during, and after you drink your spirits. Avoid dehydration at all costs.
It’s hard to drink while going keto: there are just TOO many things to keep in mind! The dose, the type of drink, the allowed chasers and mixers, the possible effects… Urgh.
Still, it doesn’t mean that you can’t drink on keto, just make sure to do it right and follow the simple recommendations we’ve gathered for you in this article.