Alcohol and the Keto Diet
What is the relationship between alcohol and the keto diet? Is drinking alcohol allowed on keto? If so, what can and can’t you drink? Are some types of alcoholic drinks worse than others? Here, we answer all your ket0 questions surrounding booze. Cheers!
Can you drink alcohol on the keto diet?
Most alcohol is essentially carbs (i.e. sugar) in liquid form. Since keto is a low-carb diet, alcohol is widely considered off-limits. However, whilst it’s hard to argue that there are better, healthier choices on the keto diet than alcohol, most of us are not living super-austere lives. Most people want a drink now and then and, in moderation, we don’t see a problem with it. (If we were to deprive ourselves of everything that has a potential health risk, life would be pretty dull…)
The question then is when it comes to alcohol and the keto diet, what can you drink? It can be tricky to work out what you can and can’t drink (and in what amounts) because alcohol labelling does not have to follow the same nutritional labelling as food. Faced with this lack of information, it’s better to err on the side of caution and stick to some general principles of what you can and can’t drink on keto.
Alcohol and the keto diet: drinks to avoid
Definitely, some alcoholic drinks are (a lot) worse than others on the keto diet. There’s a spectrum of drinks – some are quite keto-friendly and then there are those that are much higher in carbs and, depending on mixers etc, loaded with processed sugar.
Anything with added sugar
The worst culprits – which you should definitely avoid – are anything with added cola, fizzy lemonade, fruit juice, highly-processed wine coolers and so-called alcopops. Some coffee-liqueurs contain as much as 50g of carbs in one serving. There’s too much sugar in these drinks and they’ll kick you out of ketosis.
When it comes to alcohol and the keto diet, beer falls firmly in the “avoid if possible” camp. A typical pint of beer contains about 13g of carbs. That’s quite a bit, especially when you consider the standard keto diet recommends only about 20g of carbs a day. Maybe limit yourself to a half-pint on special occasions.
However, there is a growing range of “keto-friendly beers” but these still contain carbs (about half of regular beer) and, like their alcohol-free counterparts, they’re an an acquired taste with some beer drinkers saying they lack body and flavour.
Alcohol and the keto diet: keto-friendlier drinks
The good news is that alcohol and the keto diet is still possible if you stick to the following drinks in moderation:
Most spirits are fine with the keto diet as they contain little or no carbs (with the exception of sake, which contains about 6g a pour). Have your spirits neat, with ice or with a little unflavoured soda water:
- Whisky, brandy, cognac, tequila shot, dry martini, vodka and soda water (0 carbs)
- Gin and tonic (14g). Gin itself has zero carbs – the carbs all come from the tonic!
The good news is that you can drink wine fairly regularly on the keto diet. (On a “relaxed” keto diet, i.e. <100g, drinking wine is not a problem).
Wine contains about 1g of carbs per serving – and that’s being careful – the number is probably lower but we use 1g as a guide because wine does contain some sugar. Red, white, rose, champagne – all are permissible under keto. (However, avoid sweeter wines such as riesling and chardonnay and dessert wines such as port – which contains about 7g of carbs.)
Alcohol and the keto diet: drinks to stick with
Everything in moderation, right? Just because some alcoholic drinks are low in carbs, doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Of course, alcohol has other health implications that need to be factored in – not just its carb count!
That being said, here are the top alcoholic drinks that you can have on the keto diet without too much trouble:
- Whiskey (0g carbs)
- Brandy (0g carbs)
- Vodka (with plain soda and lemon or lime) (1g carbs)
- Wine – dry red, white, rose, champagne, sparkling wine (1g carbs)
- Dry martini (0g carbs)
An added benefit when it comes to alcohol and the keto diet is that just trying to stay within keto guidelines means you drink less than most recognised health guidelines.