Keto Alcohol 101
Your GUIDE to low carb drinking on the KETO DIET.
If you follow the ketogenic diet, often called the keto diet, you know that there are quite a few restrictions. While this type of diet is a wonderful way to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle overall, one of the drawbacks is that you are maintaining a mostly low-carb lifestyle and can’t usually enjoy all the drinks you used to.
However, just because drinking alcoholic beverages should not be on the top of your list, you may want to head to happy hour with friends on a Thursday afternoon after work, or enjoy a cocktail at a party for a special occasion. When it comes to drinking on the keto diet, it isn’t a strict no-no, but you need to keep a few things in mind.
Why Drinking Alcohol Can Be Frowned Upon
First of all, you should know that the keto diet does not tell you that you can’t ever drink any type of alcohol or liquor, but advises against it. The reason is because it can stall your weight loss progress. As long as you stick to the right types of adult beverages, you should still be able to remain in ketosis, but you might notice that your progress slows down a little bit. This is why you should save it only for special occasions, instead of trying to have a drink every night.
When you drink something with alcohol in it, your liver starts to process it right away. This is a fat burning process that often helps lead to the ‘buzz’ from drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, this can disrupt the regular fat burning process of food you are eating, so it slows down your metabolism, thus slowing down your weight loss.
The Alcohol Must Be Low-Carb
It is important that you stick to only low-carbohydrate alcoholic beverages, whether you are going for liquor, a cocktail, or even a beer or glass of wine. The following information is going to give you a little more insight into what types of alcoholic drinks you can have while you are on the keto diet.
How to Choose the Right Low-Carb Alcohol
If you decide to drink adult beverages while on the ketogenic diet, then you will first need to know what types of alcohol you can drink. Remember that you are looking for the lowest amounts of carbohydrates possible. The more carbs in your drink, the more risk there is of getting out of ketosis. This also reduces how many carbs you can have with the rest of your meals that day.
Stick With Straight Liquor
The best thing you can do is stick to the clear liquors, since they tend to have the least amount of carbs. You want to look for 40% alcohol in clear liquors, such as vodka, gin, and white run. If you are not a fan of these liquor options, you can also go for the darker liquors, but make sure you know the carb count before you get a shot or mixed drink. Some liquors that are good are scotch, whiskey, brandy, and tequila. Most of these liquors are going to have 0 carbs, but that is just for a single serving size. The amount may go up if you drink more of it. Cognac is the only exception, which has 2 carbs. If you like straight liquor, either as a shot or over ice, that is ideal because you don’t have to worry about mixers or chasers that might contain more carbs.
You Can Still Have Wine
Believe it or not, drinking wine is still an option, but again, count the carbs and know what is in the type of wine you choose. It really helps to look them up beforehand if you end up going to a restaurant, since most menus aren’t going to have the nutritional facts of their drink section.
Wine with the lowest amount of carbs per 5-ounce serving is champagne and sparkling white wine, both of which have just 1.5 carbs per 5-ounce glass. The next best choice is pinot grigio at 3.2 carbs, then pinot noir and 3.4 carbs. It starts getting a little higher when you get into chardonnary and merlot, both with 3.7 carbs per serving and cabernet with about 3.8 carbs per serving.
Riesling has 5.5 carbs per serving, so it is best to avoid it. Ports and sherries tend to be higher, so it is best to avoid them. Remember if a wine a dessert wine, it is probably sweeter, therefore higher in carbs.
Choose Your Beer Wisely
Now for the beer! Believe it or not, some beers are actually less carbs than a glass of champagne or wine. Just go for the ‘lite’ or ‘low carb’ version of the beer you enjoy the most, but also look up the nutritional facts to see if it is a good option for you.
For a beer under 2 carbs, go for Bud Select, as it only has 1.9 carbs per 12-ounce bottle or can. To have beer under 3 carbs, you can go with Rolling Rock Green Light, MGD 64, or Michelbo Ultra. Bud Select, Millet Lite, and Natural Light have between 3.1 and 3.2 carbs per serving. Coors Light, Bud Light, and Amstel Light seem like they would be low in carbs, but they all have over 5 carbs per serving.
Mixers and Chasers You Can Have
There may also be times when you want a mixer or chaser with your alcoholic beverages or mixed drinks. You also need to think about the carbs with these, otherwise you risk getting out of ketosis. First of all, avoid mixers that have sugar in them, so no fruit juice or soft drinks. However, you can have sugar-free or diet versions of these drinks in very small amounts. You can also use diet tonic water, seltzer water, and diet bubbly water for your drinks.
Alcohol and Mixers to Avoid
Now that you know what you can drink, it is time to talk a little about what you should avoid. This is equally important, so that you keep this in mind if you are out and trying to figure out what drink to order.
As mentioned in the previous section, you want to avoid mixers that aren’t a diet, low-carb, no-sugar, or water version of a mixer or chaser. Cocktails frequently use mixers to increase the flavor of the drink, usually making it sweeter. Avoid mixers like:
- Whiskey sour mix
- Margarita mix
- Blue buracao
- Midori sour mix
Sweet wines and alcohols also should be avoided if you want to have adult beverages with little to no carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this means avoiding sweet wine like sangria (unless you have an alternative version below, port, sherry, dessert wine, moscato, and zinfandel. Also be careful about using juice, fruit in the cocktails, or syrups like coconut cream syrup, chocolate, and whipped cream.
In terms of liquor, a good way to decide on the best one is to avoid anything that has a fancy flavor. For example, get regular white rum instead of cherry-flavored rum, and go for plain vodka instead of the fancy ‘birthday cake’ vodka. These are filled with sugar, which increases how many carbs they have. Alcohol like Peach Schnapps and Bailey’s Irish Cream is generally a no-no while on a keto diet.
Tips For Drinking While on a Keto Diet
Knowing what to drink is only the beginning of adding in some alcoholic beverages while on the keto diet. There are also some other things to remember before you start drinking. Here are some important tips to keep in mind.
Don’t Drink in the Beginning – It takes about 21 days to develop a new habit, so at least wait until day 22 of your new keto diet before adding in alcoholic beverages. By this point, your body and your mind is used to the low-carb diet and it is much easier to make smart drinks without being tempted by the ones you used to enjoy. The longer you can wait before you start drinking, the better off you will be.
Be Careful With Hangovers – When you are on a keto diet, your brain and your body reacts in different ways. This includes being much more sensitive to stimulants, like alcohol. You may notice that you get that fun buzz a lot faster, but your hangovers are also going to be harder to deal with. Make sure you are prepared ahead of time by drinking plenty of water. Drink a glass of water before you start drinking and between each drink if you have more than one. Finally, have more water after your final glass of wine or cocktail.
Keep Temptations Away – One thing to remember about drinking alcohol is that it often lowers your inhibitions. This means you might be a little more tempted to go off diet ‘just this once’ and have something with high carbs that is not approved on the keto diet. This unfortunately can knock you out of ketosis, which then requires more time to reach it again. You don’t want to get into this cycle, as it will really halt your weight loss a lot.
Drink On a Super Low-Carb Day – To avoid accidentally going over the amount of carbs you have for the day, try to eat a little bit less carbs than you normally would on the day you intend to drink. If you know there is a party coming up and you want a cocktail, then eat as many zero carb foods as you can so that you don’t go over your amount by the end of the party.
Low-Carb Cocktail Recipes
If you are more interested in cocktails or mixed drinks, here are a few recipes for you to try out! All of these drinks are low in carbs, but definitely count the carbs as you make each drink so that you can keep track on your own.
Yes, you can still have a mudslide! This is often considered a major no-no due to all the sugar, but you are not going to add excess sugar to your drink. You can use your liquor of choice, then add in some unsweetened almond milk, heavy cream, and sugar-free chocolate syrup. Blend it together with ice for a yummy keto-friendly treat.
Bailey’s Irish Cream is usually not something you can enjoy while on the keto diet, but this is a keto-friendly copycat recipe. You will use Irish whiskey, almond and vanilla extract, heavy cream, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and a keto-friendly sweetener like Swerve. It should be cooked on the stove, simmered, then cooled up and stored in a bottle.
Do you like the minty flavor of a mojito? If so, you can mix up this low-carb version of a fruity strawberry mojito. What you want to use is sugar-free strawberry juice or go for any mix you want, like strawberry lemonade. Add that to your white rum and add in some fresh mint that is mashed to release its minty flavor. Add a bit of seltzer to it, and your mojito is ready to go!
A bloody mary is actually easy to turn into a low-carb drink. You can use vodka for the drink, preferably about 80 proof. You then want to add tomato juice, but about half the amount a typical bloody mary would have. You can then add in some celery salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, horseradish, and Tabasco sauce.
Last up is the cosmopolitan. This is fun whether you are mixing up cocktails during a birthday party or you want to haves omething nice to drink when girlfriends are over. The keto-friendly cosmopolitan uses vodka instead of Triple Sec, then sugar-free or diet cranberry juice. Don’t just get light, as that still has some sugar and carbs in it. You can also add some orange extract, lime juice, artificial sweetener, and a lime wedge.