Alcohol won’t help you with weight loss, but that doesn’t mean you can never have any while you’re on the ketogenic diet. You can enjoy a glass of wine with your lunch or have a couple of drinks at a bar with your friends; it might not be the best for your macros, but most importantly, you will be able to unwind and relax and avoid “cheating” your diet with some high-carb food out of frustration. Some types of alcohol are going to affect your insulin more than others, while some have a chance to not kick you out of ketosis at all. Naturally, you’ll be looking for alcohol without sugar and with the least amount of carbs possible. Here at Lowcarb Online we have put together this guide to cover the information about the options that are available to you.
Some alcohol is exceptionally dangerous if you’re on keto
Simply put, any high-carb beverage must be avoided on keto. Most sweet drinks will contain sugar, therefore they’re off-limits: sweet wines like dessert wine and sherry are full of carbs, and so are popular apple, blackberry and other fruit ciders. Liqueurs are also very sweet and contain a lot of carbs, and unfortunately, so do most beers; Just a couple of beers could get you to cross your carb limit. Cocktails are another type of beverage you should avoid, as they’re usually sweet and definitely not carb-free. There is only one cocktail that can be drunk on keto – martini.
Hard Liquor lovers, rejoice!
Here’s some good news for all whiskey enthusiasts: all distilled alcohol with a percentage of around or above 40% is keto-friendly. This means that, other than whiskey, you could drink brandy, vodka, run, tequila, gin and others. Make sure you take a non-flavored version, as the one with flavor often contains sugar. If hard liquor is too strong for you, mix it with sparkling water, diet soda (but beware – the artificial sweeteners may affect you negatively!) or a keto sweetener. Remember: this alcohol may be zero-carb but they’re still very caloric (1g of these drinks equals to around 7 calories), so add them your daily macros.
You can still enjoy dinner wine with your significant other
If you prefer softer liquor, you can opt for dry wine. Even though neither red or white wine is zero-carb, they are still low enough to be keto-friendly, as long as you go for a dry variety. Ignore the “low-carb” marketing trick: most of the time, it will have little to nothing difference in comparison to regular dry wine. For the white wines, you can go for Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc or dry champagne, that all contain under 3g of net carbs per 150 ml, and as for red wine, choose Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Shiraz or Pinot noir, with under 4g per 150 ml. Dry rose wines also contain between 3 and 4.5 g of net carbs per serving, so you can safely drink some of those as well.
King of cocktails on Keto: Martini
If you miss cocktails, we suggest that, during your next bar visit, you order a martini. Dry martini is almost zero carbs, while dirty martini, with some olives, is also pretty low and therefore keto-friendly. Most cocktails are not acceptable on keto; Martini an exception because it contains gin, sometimes vodka, which are both zero-carb, and dry vermouth, which is low in carbs. Vermouth is also usually just ¼ of your cocktail, so you shouldn’t worry about it, and always pick a martini instead of any other cocktail if you’re on the keto diet but can’t resist having a drink.
Can’t watch sports without beer and snacks? Pickles and light lager!
Although most beer is made of malted grains and is, therefore, not keto-friendly, some beer has a low enough carb value that could make it viable in small amounts. Opt for light lagers, as they are the lowest in carbs: Miller 64, Budweiser Select 55, Corona Premier, Beck’s Premier Light, Amstel Light… All of these range from 5g net carbs to just 1.8 g – although grains are not recommended on keto, you could get away with drinking a couple of these every now and then. That, however, doesn’t mean that they will not have an effect on your diet.
Remember to drink responsibly and take care of your health
Drinking is generally not the best habit for your body, your liver, and your diet, too. If your liver is suffering (you have insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes…), or you went on keto because you were diagnosed with a non-alcoholic fatty liver, do not drink because alcohol will stop the healing of your liver. Keto is one of the best diets to help your liver recover, and in order to successfully do that, you need to cut out alcohol. If you don’t have a fatty liver and you decide to go out drinking, keep in mind that you might get drunk faster than before, because keto tends to have that effect on people. If you’re currently doing intermittent fasting, don’t fast on the day you drink and make sure to eat before you have those drinks, as that will prevent you from getting intoxicated and reaching for snacks.
Ease your keto hangover by staying hydrated
When you’re on keto, you get dehydrated faster than usual and lose electrolytes at a faster rate. Alcohol will make this effect even stronger: on keto, you can’t reach for high-carb snacks that usually help with this effect! Drink a glass of water for every drink you are having, plus one mixed with salt before sleep in order to ease the hangover. You can have some pickles as a snack, too, in order to replenish your electrolytes.
Unfortunately, drinking will slow down your weight loss
Drinking is very counter-productive for any diet, and keto is not an exception. It slows down your metabolism, because your body has to process the alcohol before processing your food. Fat oxidation will drop as well, so if you’re drinking more than once a month, be sure that you’ll be stagnating for as long as that keeps up. Additionally, alcohol itself is pretty caloric. You need to count the alcohol in your macros, whether you’re drinking at home or at a bar. It helps if you decide how many drinks you’ll be having before you even leave the house, and then stick to that number. Don’t take away your essential macronutrients in order to make space for more alcohol!
Give yourself some room to breathe
In order to minimize the chances of “cheating” on your diet (and therefore, yourself and your efforts) you should have a sizeable, satisfying meal before you go out drinking. If you know you’ll come back late and hungry, prepare yourself a snack for when you come back – this will stop you from reaching out for high-carb, unhealthy street food on your way home. If you’re having a house party, take out cherry tomatoes, pickles, low-carb deli meat and other similar products that, although not perfect for your diet, will at least not kick you out of ketosis. Even if you do get out of ketosis one or two times, don’t be too hard on yourself: it happens to everybody. You just need to try to not repeat the mistake, by going back to your diet the next day. Your weight loss will start again as soon as you’re back on track.
Is it OK to drink on keto? It’s up to you!
Whether alcohol and keto can be combined highly depends on your metabolism, your alcohol choices and how often you plan to drink. A couple of birthday party drinks will not stall your weight loss, as long as you avoid the high-carb sugar-filled drinks and go for hard liquor, dry wines or a classy martini. Track your alcohol just like you track your macros, and don’t go over the limit you set for yourself: you may get drunk faster so start with just half of how much you used to drink before, and increase if your diet and health allow you to do so. Keep away from high-carb foods while drinking and, of course, stay safe and make sure a sober person drives you home!