No doubt about it. You love what being on the keto diet does for your body. You feel better, look slimmer, and are even experiencing more clarity of thought. But being on a ketogenic diet isn’t without its drawbacks as you have probably already discovered. You can’t indulge in your favorite carbs like pasta or even a plate of fruit. Those foods are too full of carbohydrates. But what about having some alcohol on keto?
As for drinking alcohol, you’ve been told it’s better to avoid it on a low-carb diet like the ketogenic diet. However, you’re not a machine. Sometimes, you just need to be able to indulge in a few keto-friendly drinks to help you unwind.
If that’s where you’re at, it’s better to face this issue head-on so that you don’t overdo your carbs. In the grand scheme of things, there are some more keto-friendly alcoholic drinks. There are also a few drinks to avoid. Here’s the scoop on which is which.
Which Alcoholic Drinks Can I have on a Ketogenic Diet?
If you are going to indulge, Healthline recommends that you opt for spirits like vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, or tequila. In other words, you want to drink pure forms of alcohol. Your safest bet is an 80 proof alcohol with a 40% alcohol content.
All of the spirits listed above contain zero carbohydrates. That said, you want to keep it very, very simple. The easiest drink is a hard liquor without ice or a mixer. This is called neat.
For drinks that you’d like a bit chilled, you’ll say “up” or “straight up.” And alcoholic beverages with ice are “on the rocks.” You can have a zero-calorie seltzer water, but it’s best if you concoct the drink yourself. Many of the mixers on the market have too many carbs. Non-carb filled fizzy waters are your best bet if you’re looking for keto-friendly drinks.
However, there is one fizzy drink that you should put on the list of “drinks to avoid on a ketogenic diet” - tonic water. It isn’t keto-friendly at all. It can contain up to 33g of carbohydrates for every 12 ounces of alcohol you consume. Avoid flavored liquors, too. They often contain copious amounts of sugar as well.
Can I Have Something Besides Hard Alcohol on Keto?
If hard alcohol isn’t your deal, you do still have a few options on the keto diet. A ketogenic diet can include wines, although it’s better if you go with a dry wine rather than a sweeter one. According to the Diet Doctor, dry wines typically contain less than 0.5g of sugar per glass.
If you’re looking for a dry wine, consider the following guideline: Champagne or sparkling wines have the least amount of sugar, followed by red wines, and then followed by dry white wines, like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. This list represents the drinks that are the most keto-friendly drinks.
Stick with about six ounces of dry white or red wine. Most restaurant wine pours are about six ounces. Any more than that and you’ll shoot over your carb allotment for the day.
Drinks to avoid are sweeter whites like Riesling or White Port. And speaking of adult beverages that you want to avoid on a ketogenic diet, forget about the beer as well. Drinking beer is pretty much like eating a bag of bagels when you’re on keto. It’s pretty much all carbs.
Standard beers will contain around 12g of carbohydrates. If you really, really must drink it, opt for light. It’ll cut your carbohydrates in half. You should also budget for the drink as part of your daily carbohydrate allowance.
Other Things to Keep in Mind When Having Alcohol on Keto
You might be a big fan of drinks like margaritas (13g of sugar) and Bloody Marys (10g of sugar), but clearly, they are not keto-friendly drinks at all. Other popular non-keto-friendly libations include sangrias, pina Coladas, and whiskey sours. When in doubt, leave them out of your diet.
Additionally, there is some belief that drinking will increase your ketosis state. While drinking alcohol may have an immediate effect on the liver, in the long run, drinking actually slows down your weight loss. The liver will try to metabolize the alcohol first, which will give you a bit of ketone activity initially.
However, the liver will eventually use the alcohol for energy and burn the alcohol instead of the fat you want it to burn. This is not good for ketogenic fat-burning in the long run.
Drawbacks of Drinking on the Keto Diet
Aren’t hangovers the worst? Well, guess what? They get even worse still when you adhere to a ketogenic diet, according to This Insider.
Here’s why. That carb-laden spaghetti dinner that you used to eat pre-keto would soak up some of the alcohol you used to drink. This prevented you from getting drunk too quickly. In other words, eating carbohydrates helped your body slow down the way it metabolized the alcohol you drank with dinner.
Not so on the keto diet. Because you have no glycogen stores (or very little) in your liver, you become inebriated more quickly. You suffer more, and you get a worse hangover as a result of it. When your body is in ketosis mode, the glass of vino that you had with dinner makes its way into your system like a speeding bullet.
The other issue you may face is impaired judgment. While this is always true when you drink, it takes on a more specific meaning for the ketogenic dieter. The inhibitions that you had against eating that big plate of greasy fries may just go out the window. In other words, your body gets a double whammy - a bigger, faster drunk and more carbs and fat.
Ketogenic diets are all about balance in many senses of the word, meaning that while ketosis may be a more extreme state, staying in it requires you to look at your carbohydrate intake for the whole day and not just a drink at a time.
Final Thoughts on Alcohol on a Keto Diet
Generally speaking, if you have undertaken a ketogenic diet, it is probably in your best interest to avoid drinking alcohol where you can. Even the so-called “good” alcohols. While spirits like vodka or rum have no carbohydrates, they can impair your judgment, which means that you may load up on carb-heavy foods like french fries or bread.
That said, there are some more keto-friendly drinks that you can have. Again, hard liquors offer you solid choices. So do dry wines. However, if you’re someone who just loves to go drink some brews with friends, you’ll want to avoid the brewskis while you’re on a ketogenic diet. Those drinks are filled with carbohydrates, and some even have gluten in them.
Finally, if you do plan on having some drinks with friends while you’re still on your ketogenic diet, you may want to plan for the carbohydrates that you may consume. You may also want to keep in mind that you will get drunk faster on a ketogenic diet. For the best and safest results, make sure that you make all your alcohol-related decisions with this in mind.
I love this site and your recommendations. Appreciate your opinion. It's your site, so you get to write as you wish. If others don't like it, they should find another site. I just started keto and I am having a blast with it.
I enjoy the basic dble Gin on the rocks with a splash of lemon juice - Zero carbs...
Agree! I usually add some soda water and enjoy the "gin tonic". Plus, I have seen sugar-free tonics around. Not easy to find, though.
Gary W. Pitts says
Hi Tisa! Love your website and recipes!
Personally, whiskey, gin and hard liquors are less Ketogenic than some people think. Yes they are carb-free BUT they produce ethanol in the liver which is exactly what glucose does from sodas.
Organic red wine is superior to other forms of alcohol. Red wine is near-protective, cardio-protective AND unlike other alcohol- actually makes healthy Gut Bacteria! A recent scientific study compared gin, white wine, non-alcoholic red wine and Spanish conventional red wine. The alcoholic red wine was the only substrate which feeds your gut microbiome with healthy bacteria.Also, it is very easy to check the carb content of red wine which averages about 3 carbs per glass.
How do I know the foregoing? IN 2016 I published a book called "Fire your Doctor-Hire Yourself (about the Keto Diet and Lifestyle ; a book on brain health of course-:))
P.S. Psyillium husk is a great prebiotic and works super in keto baking recipes...BUT make sure that it is ORGANIC. because conventional psyllium is heavily sprayed.
Thank you Gary for your great insight! We are sooo lucky to love red wine, then. 😉 Hope to read your book one day!
Hello! Just want to say that I love your recipes and articles. In this crazy world we live in, I find it disappointing to read nasty comments, such as the one from County Loyalist. So not necessary, detracts from al the good you are spreading, and quite frankly, upsetting to read. Comments are wonderful and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but nasty comments should be banned. If you can’t say something nice, please don’t say anything at all. Respect, compassion, and love, people, respect, compassion, and love!
Thank you for the very nice thoughts, Robyn! We are very happy to have frequent readers like you on our site and our side ;). Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, while it is also true that we are not perfect and some content sometimes actually needs some improvement. In this crazy and busy world, it can be difficult to write, improve, or change our content frequently enough, but we're getting there.
County Loyalist says
your comments on sparkling wines being non sweet are just bull crap. There are varying levels of residual sugar in sparkling wine and champagnes, which is why there are descriptions like dry, brut, soft etc. Asi, for instance, is a hugely sweet drink compared to say Seguras Vidas Extra Brut. Dry reds often have less sugar then champagnes or sparkling and the same is true for whites. Most wine websites will provide the sugar content. You know, you really shouldn't give advice if you don't know the topic. Caveats like "I'm not an expert" would be better stated "I'm talking through my hat".
You also imply having ice with neat alcohol is a nono. Its not, but by having ice it obviously isn't neat but on the rocks. Sloppy writing again.
Finally, implying having a few drinks will bring about wild abandon and massive carb consumption might be good advice for college kids. Most adults though have learned to regulate their alcohol consumption and their food intake as they grow up. Keto is difficult enough without counselling people to just not drink. Drinking in moderation is a good thing on keto, for special occassions when you aren't having the birthday cake but yes, a single malt is much appreciated. Neat.
I highly agree with the first half of your comment but would only comment that having a full-time job makes me a sloppy editor and that I should watch the content that our team of writers delivers more closely. I agree that the residual sugar part in wines should be included in the article ASAP. Thank you for the notice.
But I would rather not go into a debate about how adult most adults should be or act, and what adults beyond college should already have integrated into their behaviors. I guess you'd be surprised at what kind of fundamental questions we get into our mail daily. That is why I consider including basic keto-related articles to not be a bad idea.
Thank you for the feedback.