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Alcohol & the Keto Diet

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Can You Drink Alcohol on the Keto Diet? 

It’s possible to drink alcohol and follow a ketogenic diet. However, you must understand how alcohol and the keto diet interact and affect your body.

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet, short for the ketogenic diet, is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Many people follow the keto diet to lose weight and improve their health. 

The keto diet typically involves careful planning. This is so you can stick to your daily carb intake and keep your body in ketosis.

Following a strict keto diet means giving up:

  • Sweets
  • Snacks
  • Soft drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Other high-carb indulgences

However, there are low-carb alcoholic beverages that some people may choose to enjoy in moderation, even on a keto diet.

How Does Ketosis Work?

Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when insufficient carbohydrates are available for your body to burn. Instead, it burns fat. 

The liver converts stored fat into ketones. This refers to a buildup of acids that are usable forms of energy for your body. On a keto diet, your body burns fat in the form of ketones instead of carbohydrates. 

Will a Keto Diet Help Me Lose Weight?

Weight loss happens through a caloric deficit. This is when you consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight.

When someone follows a keto diet with a caloric deficit, weight loss will occur. However, long-term use of the keto diet isn’t proven to be more effective than other diets with similar calorie counts.

Alcohol calories count toward your total daily intake. However, even when alcohol accounts for your daily calories, weight loss can still happen with a caloric deficit. 

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Will Drinking Kick You Out of Ketosis?

Sweet mixed drinks and beer containing sugar and carbs can immediately kick you out of ketosis. However, other alcoholic beverages like pure liquor and dry wine can also cause problems for some people.

When drinking on a keto diet, you must consider the processes your body takes to metabolize alcohol and how that can interfere with your body being in ketosis.

Your body and health are unique to you. Even if you consume an alcoholic beverage containing very few carbs, your reaction will differ from another person's. Listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly.

When you consume the occasional low-carb drink, alcohol is unlikely to derail your keto lifestyle. 

If you consume high-carb beverages or often drink during the week, you will slow down your body’s fat-burning process.

Best Keto-Friendly Alcoholic Drinks 

There are many low-carb alcohol options available if you follow a keto lifestyle. These include:

Pure Spirits

Pure forms of alcohol have zero carbs. For example:

  • Gin
  • Whiskey
  • Tequila
  • Rum
  • Vodka

These pure spirits can be drunk straight or with low-carb mixers.

Wine

Wine is also relatively low in carbs. It usually contains 3 to 4 grams per serving.

You can probably still have a glass of wine reasonably regularly as long as you watch your carb intake, even on a keto diet. Wine should not be a problem on a moderately low-carb diet as long as you drink responsibly.

Dry wines typically contain less than 0.5 grams of sugar per glass. Fermentation byproducts in wine, such as glycerol, should have little effect on blood sugar or insulin levels. 

However, while dry wines may fit in a keto diet, sweet dessert wines contain more sugar.

Champagne

Champagne is a type of sparkling white wine. Despite champagne's sweet taste, it only has 3 to 4 grams of carbs per serving. This makes it a great drink option for those on a keto diet. 

However, the amount of carbs in champagne varies depending on the brand. Some brands have up to 15 grams of carbs per serving. It's best to check the label before drinking.

Light Seltzers

A seltzer is a carbonated water flavored with fruit juice and/or herbs. They're produced similarly to beers. Seltzers go through a fermentation process so that the sugars contain alcohol.

Light seltzers are often lower in calories than regular seltzers. This is because they don't have as much added sweeteners. As such, they tend to have fewer carbs and are more suitable for keto diets.

Best Keto Mixers

Choosing a suitable mixer when you consume alcohol is as important as the alcohol itself. 

Choose low-carb mixers like:

  • Diet soda
  • Diet tonic water
  • Powdered flavor packets

These mixers can keep your carb intake low while improving your drink’s taste.

On the other hand, avoid standard mixers like:

  • Orange juice
  • Soda
  • Energy drinks

These mixers can quickly turn a drink with zero carbs into a high-calorie beverage.

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Alcoholic Drinks to Avoid on a Keto Diet

Many alcoholic drinks are full of carbs. Here are some of the worst alcoholic beverages to consume on the keto diet: 

Cocktails and mixed drinks 

Cocktails and mixed drinks often contain high-carb, sugary ingredients. These include fruit juice, artificial sweeteners, soda, and syrups. Some mixed drinks even have more than 30 grams of sugar per serving.

Beer

Beer is among the worst drinks to consume when following a keto lifestyle. Regular beer is produced from starch. It may contain more than 12 grams of carbs in one can. It is even known as ‘liquid bread.’

Beer’s carb content varies depending on the type and brand. However, most beers contain too many carbs for a keto diet. Even on a more liberal low-carb diet, it may be best to keep beer drinking as an occasional treat.

The exception is ultra-light beer which contains fewer carb counts than other varieties. 

Sangria

Sangria is an alcoholic drink that includes wine, citrus juices, and sweeteners. Although the wine in sangria fits the keto diet, the added ingredients have lots of sugar. 

The average glass of sangria contains about 20 grams of carbs. This makes it a bad choice for someone on a keto diet. 

Liqueurs

Liqueurs are spirits sweetened with sugar or syrup. Popular liqueur drinks include Baileys Irish Cream, Jägermeister, and Malibu.

The added sweeteners in liqueur increase the drink's carb content. This makes liqueurs unsuitable for people following a ketogenic diet.

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Considerations When Drinking on a Keto Diet

When following a keto diet, be aware that some people become intoxicated from significantly less alcohol than those not eating a keto diet. You may only require half as many drinks as usual to enjoy yourself.

The reasons for this are not fully known. But one possible reason is that the liver is busy creating ketones or glucose and has less capacity to burn alcohol. 

Be very careful when you consume alcohol on a keto diet. Impairment could increase the risk of accidents and injury. Plus, it may make your hangover worse.

If you use a keto diet to treat metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease, understand that alcohol can harm liver health.5 Heavy drinking acts as a liver toxin.

Summary

The keto diet can help people lose weight and improve their health. However, drinking alcohol can affect your ability to stay on track with the keto diet. If you want to enjoy alcoholic drinks during a ketogenic diet, make sure that you choose low-carb alternatives.

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Updated on September 16, 2022
6 sources cited
  1. Wannamethee, S. G., Field, A. E., Colditz, G. A., & Rimm, E. B. "Alcohol intake and 8-year weight gain in women: a prospective study." Obesity research, 2004.
  2. Shelmet, J J, et al. “Ethanol causes acute inhibition of carbohydrate, fat, and protein oxidation and insulin resistance.” The Journal of clinical investigation, 1998. 
  3. Rehm, Jürgen. “The risks associated with alcohol use and alcoholism.” Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2011. 
  4. Gunzerath, Lorraine, et al. “National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report on moderate drinking.” Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 2004. 
  5. Weng, Gong, and Winston Dunn. “Effect of alcohol consumption on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” Translational gastroenterology and hepatology, 2019.
  6. Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. “Ketogenic Diet.” StatPearls Publishing, 2021.

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