When you’re considering beginning the keto diet you probably have questions as to what is and isn’t allowed. A common question centers around alcohol. If you begin keto does that then mean that you have to completely give up the occasional drink? The good news is, keto is one of the only diets that doesn’t completely forbid alcohol consumption. There are a few things to keep in mind about alcohol and the keto diet. The following guide will help answer questions that you may have so you know how to safely consume alcohol on keto without sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Keto and Alcohol
How do alcohol and keto fit in together? When starting any diet the first thing you usually learn is that alcohol is not allowed. It’s high in sugar that is often frowned upon during weight loss and dieting. However, keto seems to be the exception to this rule as long as you follow a few simple rules.
Is alcohol allowed on the keto diet?
Yes, alcohol is allowed on the keto diet. Keto requires you to keep the number of net carbs that you consume low. When you’re following a true keto diet you’ll only consume 20 net carbs or less per day. Your typical beer or glass of red wine has 5g of carbohydrates in each glass. Since you’re only allowed to have 20 grams or less total this can put a dent in things real fast. Two bottles of regular beer have half of your daily carb count!
The good news for anyone that enjoys a little wine after work or the occasional weekend beer is that there are plenty of low carb options when it comes to alcohol.
What types of alcohol are best on the keto diet?
In general, the sweeter your alcohol tastes, the greater the carb content will be. A simple taste test will work to decide if the alcohol is keto-friendly. Anything that tastes bitter, dry or tart is probably okay as long as you don’t mix it with a sweeter drink such as soda or fruit juices.
- Champagne has only 1.5 carbs per serving making it one of the lowest carb white wine options
- Pinot Grigio contains 3.2 carbs per serving
- Sauvignon Blanc has 2.7 carbs per serving so it’s another great low carb option
- Merlot has 3.7 carbs per serving so it’s up to you whether this is too many carbs for your keto plan
- Cabernet Sauvignon has 3.8 carbs per serving
- Pinot Noir has 3.4 carbs per serving and is one of the lower carb red wines
- Bud select 55 has 1.9 carbs per serving
- Michelob Ultra has 2.6 carbs per serving
- MGD 64 only has 2.4 carbs per serving
- Bud Select has 3.1 carbs per serving
- Rolling Rock Green Light only has 2.4 carbs per serving
What types of alcohol should you avoid on keto?
Although there are plenty of options for alcohol that is on the lower end of the carb spectrum there are a lot more that are loaded with sugar and carbs. Here are some of the worst offenders to avoid.
- Stella Artois has a whopping 13 carbs per serving
- Heineken has 11 carbs per serving
- Budweiser has 11 carbs per serving
- Guinness has 14 carbs per serving
- Corona has 14 carbs per serving
- Depending on the brand you’re looking at a carb count of anywhere from 11-28 carbs per serving. One glass of cider could blow your keto diet so avoid this sugary alcohol at all times
- A Bloody mary has 7 carbs per serving and this makes it one of the lower carb mixed drinks
- Vodka and Orange Juice has 28 carbs per serving so it’s easy to blow your keto with one of these drinks
- A Cosmo has 13 carbs per serving
- Margaritas have carbs per serving making it another of the lowest carb count mixed drinks
- A Rum and Coke has a whopping 39 carbs! That’s almost double the amount you’re allowed on keto
- Gin and Tonic has 16 carbs per serving
- White Russians have 28 carbs per serving and are another of the highest carb alcoholic beverages you can drink
Health considerations when drinking alcohol on keto
Alcohol is actually a toxic micronutrient which means that it’s a micronutrient that your body doesn’t need. Your body will work very hard to get rid of any alcohol that’s in your body. This has the effect of making you feel tipsy as your body metabolizes the alcohol you’ve consumed. Keto only increases this tipsy effect as your bodies metabolize it faster than if you were consuming an average diet. Your liver is clean and clear of carbs during keto which means that it can process the alcohol immediately as opposed to being tied up with carbohydrates. You may not have the typical warning that you used to and you might get drunk almost instantly. This can lead to some side effects.
Possible side effects of drinking alcohol on the keto diet
One of the things that might happen when you drink while on keto is that alcohol will most likely affect your ketosis. Your liver makes ketones out of fat which helps you burn that fat away and use it for energy. When you’re drinking; however, your liver can use alcohol to create ketones. This interferes with ketosis and you might find that instead of burning fat and using it as fuel, your body burns alcohol which isn’t the greatest form of fuel.
Another side effect of drinking on keto is that you’re going to get drunk a lot quicker and you’re also going to experience a worse hangover. The hangover will be worse because of the lack of carbs in your body. Carbohydrates act as a buffer between you and the alcohol you drink. When you’re on keto that buffer is going to disappear and you’ll feel both the immediate effects of the alcohol and the hangover afterwards a lot stronger than if your body was chock full of carbs.
You also might have a harder time sticking to your keto plan because as anyone who’s ever been intoxicated knows, alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes you more likely to make poor decisions. So if strong willpower and a steel resolve are the only things keeping you on your keto diet (but inside you’re dying for a cookie) you’re going to fall victim to the bad decision-making consequences of alcohol and go with what you’re inner self desires most.
How drinking alcohol on the keto diet effects weight loss
Even though there are some types of alcohol that are low enough in carbohydrates as to not affect your net carbs one way or the other this doesn’t mean that drinking alcohol while on keto will lead to weight loss results. Alcohol may be low in carbs but it still contains calories. Like soda and fruit juices these calories are what’s known as empty calories. This means that they don’t contribute to your nutrition in any way.
When you drink alcoholic beverages you’re also lowering your body’s desire to chose healthy foods. Your cravings for junk food and processed foods go up and your resistance to those cravings goes down. When you combine these two together you have a recipe for weight loss disaster. It also spells out trouble for your keto diet. If you’re drinking and doing keto you might find yourself craving foods that are loaded with carbohydrates such as chips, fries or a nice slice of pizza. Finding the willpower to stick to a keto diet can be hard at the best of times and you don’t need anything making this process more difficult.
In addition to being chock full of empty calories, alcohol is also a depressant. This is because it slows down our brain functions. When we are impaired by alcohol it’s because it’s slowed down our brain so that we can’t process stimuli. This effects our speech, our vision and our movement. It also affects our weight loss. Alcohol slows down our fat loss the same way it slows down everything else in our bodies.
When you combine the empty calories, the increased cravings and decreased willpower along with the way alcohol slows down the burning of fat it’s clear to see that alcohol doesn’t help your weight loss efforts, in fact, it hinders them.
A word on moderation
Not everyone can drink in moderation. There are those that have a dependency on alcohol and no amount is ever enough. If you find that you have a problem with alcohol then it is not advised to drink while on keto. The speed at which your body metabolizes the alcohol you consume makes your tolerance levels extremely low. This is not a good thing for anyone with an alcohol addiction. Speak to a medical professional if you feel that you have a drinking problem. They can help you come up with a solution so that you can enjoy keto safely.
Can you drink on the keto diet? Yes. Should you drink on the keto diet? That answer will be different for everyone. Following along with the above guidelines and asking yourself what you’re willing to put up with or sacrifice for a drink will help you figure out if drinking on keto is for you or whether you’d rather stick to healthier beverages.