Do keto diets and alcohol mix? Are there even keto alcoholic drinks?
Alcohol is one of the hardest things to avoid throughout your adult life. As soon as you hit a legal drinking age, you’ll find that many of your social outings tend to revolve around drinking and having a good time.
Whether you’re hitting up a club, the local pub, or gathering at a friend’s place for an intimate night in, it can be pretty difficult to avoid depending on your social situations.
Lucky for me (or unlucky…), I wasn’t quite the social butterfly so I was able to steer away from alcohol for most of my diet. On the rare occasions that I did go out, I tried to limit my alcohol intake or make conscious choices to minimize negative impact on my results.
How Does Alcohol Affect Keto Diets?
Can alcohol knock me out of ketosis?
Alcohol will not necessarily knock one out of ketosis, but it may result in stalling weight loss.
While alcohol is made from fermenting starches and sugars, which are technically carbs, they are stripped of nutritional value during this process. You can treat alcohol almost as if it were a fourth macro nutrient (along with carbs, protein and fat).
While the basic process of a keto diet is that you restrict your body’s carbohydrate intake so that it resorts to using fats as the main energy source.
However, since alcohol is considered a toxin to your body, it is metabolized within your first before carbs and fats, which can result in stalling. Your body will need to burn through and remove the alcohol from the system before it can continue burning fat as fuel.
It can also potentially cause weight loss stalls since 1g of alcohol has 7 calories which can add up quickly with all those shots. If you’re really interested in seeing the effects on your body, or if you’re still in ketosis, you can always use a keto strip to verify if it has knocked you out of it.
What happens if I drink alcohol while on Keto?
Aside from stalling, you may notice that you get tipsy much faster. Usually you’ll have some source of carbs (crackers, bread or pizza) before going out for a night on the town.
With carbs being removed from your diet, your body absorbs the alcohol at a much quicker rate. Not only are you losing weight but you also get more bang for your buck and save on spending on drinks!
You’ll also want to make sure that you stay hydrated. Keto diets typically means your body will be retaining far less water naturally. Alcohol tends to dehydrate you so the combination of the two should be balanced with additional water. Staying hydrated will also help prevent or mitigate those nasty hangovers!
Types of Alcohol and Keto
Like the rest of your keto lifestyle changes, you’ll have to be more mindful with some of your choices. Most types of alcohol are still on the table, but you just have to be more selective with what you consume. Here are some keto alcohol options.
Low Carb Beer
Being made from fermenting grains (wheat, barley and other grains), it’s often referred to as liquid bread. Having such a high concentration of liquid carbohydrates means that it’s a lot of empty calories and can often lead to the dreaded beer gut.
In general, while on a keto diet, you’ll want to avoid beers, there are some light beers that you may be able to enjoy. Although most beer aficionados around me would argue that you might as well drink water over light beer, some people may actually enjoy the lighter taste!
They also tend to be lower in alcohol content so you may want to keep things under control and just have enough to enjoy yourself versus being the life of the party.
Some light keto beer options include:
- Budweiser Select 55 (1.8g carbs)
- Michelob Ultra (2.6g carbs)
- Miller Lite (3.2g carbs)
- Coors Light (4.2g carbs)
- Amstel Light (5g carbs)
- Corona Light (5g carbs)
- Bud Light (6.6g carbs)
If you’re looking for something light, I’d stick to the top of the list as these tend to have fewer calories (as well as alcohol content) while the ones towards the bottom have more calories (higher alcohol content).
Low Carb Ciders
Ciders are typically made from fermenting apple juice and is popular in the UK and other countries (like Canada) across the world. While the sugars are converted to alcohol during the fermentation process, most ciders tend to have additional sugar or juice added to after the fermentation process for additional taste.
Due to this, it’s very difficult to find a low carb, keto-friendly cider on the market. If you’re a real cider fanatic, you may even want to consider brewing your own at home so know exactly what ingredients go into it.
If you’re like me and don’t want to risk accidentally burning down your home, then you can also plan your meals before hand and allocate enough carbs for 1 or 2 drinks.
Michelbob Ultra Light Cider and Woodchuck Crips Hard Cider both have about 10g of carbs per serving which means you can slip in maybe 1 or 2 drinks if you plan your meals ahead.
Low Carb Wine
I’m personally not a big wine drinker, but you can definitely still enjoy a nice glass of red wine with your fat, juicy steaks (or some cheaper cut of meat if you’re on a budget).
While alcohol may not be the most calorie-friendly indulgence, drinking wine does have various health benefits. A regular glass of wine can help your skin with antioxidants, reduces the risk of heart disease and can boost your immune system.
Although wine is made from grapes, which isn’t a great fruit for keto diets, much of the natural sugars are converted to alcohol during the fermentation process (similar to beer).
When it comes to wine, both red and white wines are perfectly fine for keto diets. You generally want to find a dry wine (which means there’s no residual sugar left from the fermented grapes). Some carb counts may vary depending on the brand so you may want to look up the manufacturer before picking one out!
Keto Red Wines
- Merlot (4g carbs per glass)
- Gamay (3.5g carbs per glass)
- Pinot Noir (3.4g carbs per glass)
- Cabernet Sauvignon (3.8g carbs per glass)
- Burgundy (5.5g carbs per glass)
- Zinfandel (4.2g carbs per glass)
- Shiraz (3.79g carbs per glass)
Keto White Wines
- Chardonnay (3.7g carbs per glass)
- Pinot Gris (3.2g carbs per glass)
- Riesling (5.5g carbs per glass)
- Sauvignon Blanc (3g carbs per glass)
- Chenin Blanc (4.9g carbs per glass)
While a glass of red or white wine may be low in carb, do be mindful that alcohol still does contain quite a bit of calories which can result in weight loss stalls. Just because you can fit 5 glasses of Merlot in for the day, doesn’t mean you should as you could easily be looking at drinking around 600 calories!
Low Carb Champagne
If you’re looking for the fewest carbs for an alcoholic beverage, look no further! Champagne typically only has 1.6g of carbs per glass. Typically synonymous with a celebration, perhaps you can enjoy a glass of champagne to celebrate your own keto milestones!
Like wines, there’s a range of champagnes to choose from which range from Brut Nature/Brut (less sweet) to Doux (sweetest). You can learn more about the specific types of champagne, but if you’re just looking for a quick drink, any type of champagne shouldn’t break your diet, but I’d steer away from the Demi-Sec and Doux varieties.
Low Carb Liquor & Spirits
If you’re not a fan of the bubbly drinks, have no fear! Luckily, most other types of hard liquor or spirits (distilled beverages) are low in sugars and net carbs. In their pure form, you can still enjoy (responsibly) gin, vodka, rum, brandy and whisky.
Although, the usual chasers and alcoholic cocktails/mixed drinks that use these types of alcohol would be too high in sugar content to reasonable incorporate in your night out. However, you can use alternatives, such as diet soda (diet rum and coke, or a gin and diet tonic water). They may have a bit of a different taste, but they can help save you the carbs and allow you to enjoy your night out with friends. If you’re not a fan of artificial sweeteners, then you can simply drink them over ice or if you’re really wild, as shots.
Just because you’re on a diet, it doesn’t mean you have to completely sacrifice your social life. It may require a few changes to avoid being counter productive, but you can still enjoy a night out with friends without completely ruining or cheating on your diet.
As the holiday season approaches, I’m sure that it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy a nice glass of wine with your friends and family, just as long as you do your research beforehand and always drink responsibly!