Keto diet and Alcohol
Can there be a drink for you that’s keto-friendly since most of the articles about the keto diet say nothing about whether alcohol is keto-safe or not?!
POV: You’re at a house party, you see people around you grabbing a glass of wine or beer.
Your friend offers you a glass too naturally, but you refuse it. Why? You’re probably unsure if that one glass of alcohol would hinder your progress and put your body off ketosis.
The question is, can there be a drink for you that’s keto-friendly since most of the articles about the keto diet say nothing about whether alcohol is keto-safe or not?!
Now, you must be aware that the keto diet is a low carb (5%), high fat (75%) and moderate protein (20%) diet.
Following that, your body does not get enough carbohydrates and starts producing ketones, as a result. The ketones provide energy to the body by burning stored fat thereby promoting fat loss along with several other health benefits.
Coming back to the question in the discussion,
You need not cut off alcohol completely while you are on a keto diet.
The truth, however, as we all know is that alcohol provides no nutrition to your body. Drinking alcohol without knowing when to stop is harmful to your health. But if it’s occasional (in regulation) drinking you’re looking for when you’re on the keto diet, here’s a guide that’ll work and won’t throw your body off ketosis.
Ketosis and Alcohol:
What REALLY happens:
When you’re drinking alcohol, your body(liver) views it as a toxin/poison that needs to be eliminated. The liver then breaks down this alcohol to get it out of the body to get rid of it even before it can burn fat or absorb nutrients. When you consume alcohol frequently or in higher quantities, your body employs more time in breaking down alcohol and less time on burning fats. After a point of time, your body just gives up on metabolizing fat and focuses on eliminating alcohol poison.
The fats that you consume become stored fat, giving rise to several health issues, obesity being on the top.
BUT, as long as it’s not an addiction and you have it in regulation occasionally, you are good to go (though it will temporarily pause fat burn till it gets rid of all the alcohol)
Another thing that you should look out for while consuming alcohol on keto is ‘sugar’. Mixing your drinks with sugary beverages is a BIG NO! We will discuss it at length later in the article.
Calories and Alcohol:
If you are of the opinion that alcohol does not add up to your daily calorie intake, let me burst your bubble.
One gram of alcohol typically contains seven calories. You might think that the low carb version will not cause as much harm but they all have empty calories (multiple calories with zero nutrients) that might add to weight gain.
Overconsumption of any kind of alcohol is not recommended, no matter what diet you follow.
Best and Worst Alcohols on a Keto Diet:
All in all, the alcohol you choose does make a difference.
The keto diet allows the consumption of 20–50 grams of carbs in your diet. So if you’re planning to get a drink, make sure it fits your daily carb intake. Some alcohols have sugar and higher carb content than others. Here is a list to avoid while on the keto diet:
- Regular Beer: One beer can(335ml) contains 12 grams of carbs. Beer is made from starch which is not suitable for people on the keto diet.
- Cocktails: Cocktails are surely tempting because they taste so good but they are full of carbs, sugary juices, syrups, soda and other sweeteners. For instance: One glass(133ml) of Pina Colada contains 32 grams of carbs. So, next time someone offers you a glass of whiskey sour or margarita, you know what to say.
- Mixed Drinks: Rum and coke; vodka and cranberry juice; gin and tonic are not fit for keto. One glass of rum and coke(240ml) contains 18 grams of carbs. Absolute NO.
- Sangria: Though some wine is safe to consume on keto, Sangria is not. Why you wonder? Sangria is a mixture of wine, fruit juice and fruit which makes it an automatic NO. One glass of Sangria consists of 19grams of carb.
- Alcopops: People consume breezers and peach schnapps which are sugar-laden, fruity, alcoholic drinks. These obviously have a high carb content and are not keto-friendly.
- Liqueurs: Spirits and liqueurs are two different categories of alcohol. Liqueurs contain added flavors and sugar. Hence, they are definitely not keto-friendly. Baileys, Kahlua, Triple Sec, and Jagermeister are some of the liqueurs.
Keto-Friendly drinks to enjoy:
There are plenty of drinks that have a low carb content and are keto-friendly if consumed in moderation. Hard spirits, for instance, are free from carbs and sugar; they have higher alcohol content(30–50%) in their pure form. Spirits are generally made from natural grains, sugars, potatoes or fruits but after the distillation and fermentation process, the sugar turns into ethyl alcohol. (Don’t worry about details so much, just make a note of the list below)
Alcohol spirits that have zero carb content:
Apart from the hard liquors, white wine, red wine, champagne, and light beers have low carb content(2–5grams) and are keto-friendly. You can also choose Dry Martini. However, you should avoid sparkling and sweet wines. Before buying wine, make sure you research its contents.
Please Note: Read the labels or sticker before buying any bottle, some manufacturers add sugar to exaggerate the flavor right after the distillation process. Flavored spirits are complete NO.
Paying heed to mixers is an important step. Sometimes, people choose vodka and add soft drinks, sugary sodas, sweeteners, cider and packaged fruit juices to it. That ruins the whole purpose of keto-friendly alcohol. If you drink a sugar-laden mixer, it will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels and take your body off ketosis.
It does not however mean that you have to consume your alcohol with water as a mixer. Instead. opt for low-calorie, low-carb mixers like diet soda, seltzer, and sugar-free tonic water.
Dos and Don’ts:
- Keep a check on the calories:
Low-carb alcohol might be high in calories. Avoid bulking up on calories as it will disturb the diet and lead to weight gain. Just 3–4 glasses of alcohol equal as many calories as a full meal.
2. Do not overeat and snack on anything you like:
When you are consuming alcohol on a keto diet, you should keep in mind that the snacks you are having may not be keto-friendly. So, limiting the intake of snacks should be kept in mind. If you eat things that are carb-rich, it might give you a carb hangover along with an alcohol hangover. The more alcohol you consume the more you tend to munch on snacks.
3. Read the labels/stickers on the bottle:
As mentioned before, reading the labels and stickers on the bottle is important. Especially when you buy a bottle of wine, champagne or spirits, make sure they are sugar-free and low in carb content. When you go to a bar and choose a drink, ask the server not to add anything that sweetens it like artificial colors or sweeteners. The less fancy it looks, the better.
4. Set a limit, do not overdo alcohol:
The focus here is on moderation. If you have alcohol in moderation, it will not harm you. Once you start overconsumption of alcohol, it will not only throw your body off ketosis but also cause several chronic diseases like diabetes, fatty liver and hypertension. Alcohol has an addictive property, be tactical.
5. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate:
Alcohol causes dehydration. You might get a dry mouth, headache and nausea if your body does not get enough water. Stay hydrated, drink a glass of water before consuming alcohol, and one in between every drink. It will help your body wash out the toxins and rebuild electrolytes.
Keep in mind that alcohol is not healthy whatsoever. You might have it for fun or to lighten up your mood in a gathering, but your body deems it to be poison. People get addicted to it swiftly. “It’s just a glass of wine” becomes 5 glasses at one go. Do not let alcohol take control over you, it will gradually impact your quality of life.
I’ve spent the last six years of my life researching and studying nutrition to come out with my own brand of low-carb healthy desserts & bread that fit every lifestyle. If you have a sweet tooth and want to indulge as well as make the switch to a ketogenic diet more fun, check out my Instagram for your daily dessert fix.
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