Do you like drinking alcohol? When you’re on the ketogenic diet it’s important to consider the different foods and beverages you can and can’t drink. This is based on whether or not they’re low-carb/high-fat (LCHF). It’s the same situation when finding keto-friendly alcohol. For example, Smirnoff Ice is sky-high at 31g of carbs. It has a lot to do with the ingredients and how the drink is processed. For example, beer contains barley, which is high-carb and thus generally gets a thumbs down on the keto diet. The key is to do some research so you’ll know which drinks to go with.
What are the best options? You might be surprised that there are various alcoholic drinks with 0g of carbs. They include vodka/tonic, and Whiskey/Diet Coke. In many cases, it’s a matter of just swapping out the sugar of beverages like soft drinks or soda water. In those situations, it’s the sugar that boosts the calories/carbs. That’s a situation you’ll want to avoid. If you want to drink alcohol while on a low-carb diet like keto it’s important to simply research the carbs of certain beverages. There’s an app for that but you can also just search the web for ways to tweak for favorite beers, wines, and spirits.
Before getting to the nitty-gritty of keto-friendly alcohol it’s critical to talk about what “keto-friendly” is all about. The keto diet is a low-carb and high-fat (LCHF) diet. It’s somewhat different from similar diets like Atkins and South Beach.
The main difference is Keto is high-fat and up to 80%. This is “good” fat like omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fat. Studies show these kinds of fats might provide several health benefits like lower blood sugar and blood pressure and risk of health diseases like type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
The goal of the keto diet is to consume LCHF food and beverages like alcohol. This causes your body to go into a state of “ketosis.” As a result, the body gets energy from stored fat and something called “ketones” instead of food carbs.
This process requires you to do carb-counting instead of traditional calorie-counting. You’ll need to stay under 50g of carbs daily and possibly less depending on if you’re on a modified keto diet. For example, this can help you determine which beers get a green light on the keto diet.
Keto can lead to weight loss because you’re not getting carb overloads from foods with tons of carbohydrates. That includes unhealthy foods like microwave popcorn and even “healthy” ones like refined grains and large apples (31g carbs).
You’ll have to take the same step when weighing different alcoholic drinks. For example, champagne is at 1g of carbs while a Rum/Coke has about 40g of carbohydrates. When one drink has about 80% of the daily carbs allowed on keto it’s probably not the best choice.
Can you ever go out of ketosis? In theory, a 2-liter Coke bottle could kick you out of ketosis for a week. Fun Fact: a 2-liter cola has about 196g of carbs. So, it’s important to know about keto-friendly food/drinks.
First, it’s worth noting that alcohol isn’t generally nutrient-rich. There are lots of “empty calories” that have zilch nutritional value. Some studies show that you can get some health benefits from drinking a moderate amount of alcohol.
The Mediterranean Diet allows one glass of red wine per day. Studies show that wine has several benefits, including lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol levels, and risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.
Wine is quite keto-friendly. It’s generally about 1-2g of carbs per glass. If you’re on keto it would also be wise to reduce your alcohol consumption to one glass of low-carb wine or spirits.
Here are some low-carb mixed drinks:
- Vodka/Soda (0g carbs)
- Whiskey (0g carbs)
- Wine (1/2g carbs)
- Dry Martini (0g carbs)
- Champagne (1g carbs)
You can add beverages to spirits like diet sodas/tonic water to keep your drinks low-carb.
Beer is generally a different story in terms of carbs. Barley contains gluten like wheat bread, which makes it generally higher-carb than other alcoholic drinks.
However, the carbs in beers can vary considerably. Here are some low-carb options you could consider:
- Amstel Light Lager (5g carbs)
- Budweiser Select 55 (1.8g carbs)
- Corona Premier (2.6g carbs)
- Heineken Light (7g carbs)
- Labatt Premier (2.4g carbs)
- Michelob Ultra (2.6g carbs)
- Miller Lite (3.2g carbs)
Some of these beers are quite low in carbs while others not so much. Since beer is relatively higher-carb than red wine you might want to limit it to once a week or even on special occasions. If it’s party time then it’s probably justifiable to get kicked out of ketosis for one day of the year.
Finally, make sure to always research a particular beer brand before assuming it’s keto-friendly. Just because a beer is “light” or “lite” doesn’t mean it’s a super-low carb. The portion size is also a factor.
Worst Alcoholic Drinks
Like other types of food/beverages, there are alcoholic beverages that aren’t keto-friendly. Keep in mind that in terms of mixed drinks it’s not just the alcohol itself.
These drinks include beverages like sodas, creams, fruit juices, and lemonade that can also be high-carb. One can of regular soda has nearly 40g of carbs, for example. Even a small container of fruit juice can add 35g of carbs to a cocktail. That’s right!
Here are some mixed alcoholic drinks that are also high in carbs:
- Bacardi Breezer (39g carbs)
- Cosmopolitan (13g carbs)
- Gin/Tonic (16g carbs)
- Smirnoff Ice (31g carbs)
- Vodka/orange juice (28g carbs)
- White Russian (17g carbs)
Since Keto has been trending the past few years you can find lower-carb versions of popular alcoholic drinks. Carbs are usually reduced by swapping in sugar-free versions of drinks like sodas, tonic water, and fruit juices. These versions probably won’t be 0-carb but they’ll be more keto-friendly.
If you’re a beer fan then there’s good and bad news. Beers tend to be fairly high-carb due to barley not being gluten-free.
If you want to enjoy a beer now and then while on keto you should start considering light beers. OK, they don’t deliver the punch of regular brews. However, they’re lower in calories and carbs so you won’t feel compelled to do a 24-hour fast after drinking one.
The carb range of all beers is about 2g to 13g. Light beers tend to be on the lower end but they can also be fairly high at 8g carbs or so.
One X-factor is how many total carbs you’ve consumed that day. If you’re fasting or eating light then a higher-carb light beer can still keep you under 50g of daily carbs.
Finally, watch out for “hidden” sugar to select the best keto-friendly alcohol.