Are you on a low-carb diet like Atkins, Paleo, or Keto? If so, then it can sometimes be tough to pick foods and beverages with low carbohydrates. It also might seem that low carb mixed drinks are impossible to find.
A can of beer has about 13 calories. That’s about one-quarter of the maximum number of daily carbs allowed by the ketogenic diet. So, it might also seem tough to find low-carb cocktails that include 1+ white liquors and ingredients like fruit juice or lemonade. However, you might be surprised they exist. It’s a matter of selecting mixed alcoholic drinks that only include low-carb ingredients. If you can do that, you can find cocktails that won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
When picking low-carb alcoholic drinks, you can find various ones with different white liquors. They include rum, vodka, and gin. You might be surprised to discover that many alcoholic beverages aren’t high-carb. While wine isn’t a mixed drink, it usually has about 1 or 2 carbs. So, it’s good to know which ingredients or processes cause the lowest carbs. One X-factor to consider is alcohol seems to have twice the “punch” when you’re on a low-carb diet. So, if you’re on a low-carb diet, consider smaller amounts.
Alcohol on Low-Carb Diets
Before talking about low-carb alcoholic drinks themselves, it’s important to take up whether or not they’re even allowed on low-carb diets. If they’re not allowed, then even 0-carb drinks won’t mean much.
Low-carb diets have been trending in recent decades. You might be surprised the first one dates back half a century ago to 1967. That’s when the Stillman Diet was launched. This diet was interestingly low-fat and high-protein, and recommend 6 meals/day.
The issue of whether alcohol is allowed on low-carb diets is a complex one. Here’s why. Several kinds of alcoholic drinks are high-carb and sometimes even have more carbohydrates than foods like desserts, candy, or soft drinks.
One example is beer due to the high starch content. However, there are exceptions like Budweiser Select 55 that’s Keto-friendly at 1.8g.
There are low-carb versions, but beer sometimes has over a dozen grams of carbs. This prevents it from being allowed on most low-carb diets.
Finding low-carb mixed drinks is trickier. That’s because it includes 2+ ingredients that include 1+ alcoholic drink, and usually other ingredients like fruit drinks.
Here are the average carbs of some popular mixed drinks:
- Bloody Mary: 10g
- Daiquiri: 33g
- Margarita: 13g
- Pina Colada: 32g
- Whiskey Sour: 14g
To put these figures in perspective, consider that one pina colada would be over 60% of your carb intake for the whole day on keto.
Studies show that alcohol is also high in empty calories. So, if you over-do it on alcoholic beverages (including low-carb options), this could cause weight gain and wreck your low-carb diet.
A related issue is alcohol is also high in calories themselves. It contains the second-highest ratio after fat at 7 calories/gram.
This explains why the Mediterranean Diet only allows one glass of red wine per day. It prevents carb/calorie overload even though the fermented grape juice has about 1-2g of carbs per glass.
Low Carb Mixed Drinks
1. Dry Martini
This cocktail has 0 carbs and is the favorite drink of James Bond. It features gin and vermouth (white wine). This martini is garnished with a lemon twist or olive. If you want to drink this beverage like Agent 007 make sure you include the order “shaken, not stirred.”
2. Sugar-free Margarita
This keto-friendly version has just 6g of carbs, which is about half of a regular margarita. It includes:
- Lime juice
- Orange extract
- Margarita/kosher salt
This drink allows you to enjoy the taste of a classic beverage without lots of carbs.
3. Skinny Bitch
OK, in all fairness the drink’s name is a bit risqué. However, if you can get past that it’s a long drink you can enjoy with a total of zero carbs. It includes vodka, soda water, and some ice. Several white liquors are low-carb. It’s a matter of picking low-carb stuff to mix with it.
4. Caribbean Rum Punch
This is a classic drink that’s surprisingly also low-carb. You’ll need dark and light rum, orange and coconut/pineapple water enhancers, Diet Sprite or ginger ale, lime juice, ice, and lime slice. Even with all these ingredients, it’s just 1g of carbs per serving.
5. Vodka Mojito
This is a great beverage for warm weather days. The main difference of this version is it swaps out rum and swaps in vodka. Other ingredients include club soda, lime juice, mint, Stevia, and lime slice. Besides tasting refreshing this alcoholic drink has only 2 net carbs.
6. Low-carb Sangria
This version includes ingredients like red wine, citron vodka, club soda, berry water enhancer, and some limes. This is a good option for warm-weather spring/summer months. Another plus is it’s just 3g of carbs. So, you won’t have to worry about the drink kicking you out of ketosis.
Tips for Keto-friendly Drinks
1. Think twice about diet sodas
The good news is diet sodas like Diet Coke contain 0 carbs. However, there are many question marks about artificial sweeteners. Studies show they can cause many of the same health problems of sugary soda.
There are other issues to consider. Diet sodas still have virtually no nutritional value like ones with refined sugar. Yet another problem is scientists simply don’t know all the long-term effects of many sweeteners since limited studies have been done on them.
2. Watch out for beer and wine
Some beers and wines are low-carb but others aren’t. Make sure to read beer labels to find out how many carbs you’re getting. In some cases, they’re under 2g and other times they’re 12+ grams.
If you’re a fan of wine then you could go with white or dry red wines. Make sure to drink moderate amounts. For example, the Mediterranean Diet allows one glass of wine per day but that means exactly one glass not one bottle.
3. Research the carbs
The good news is low-carb diets like keto have been trending lately so it’s easier to find the carb count for certain types/brands of alcoholic drinks. The main thing to watch out for is high-carb ingredients like sugar and cream.
4. Avoid large soda bottles
In theory, you shouldn’t drink sodas. However, if you’re going to enjoy one once in a blue moon make sure to consider the portion size.
For example, a small can/bottle will kick you out of ketosis for a day. On the other hand, a big bottle could keep you out of ketosis for an entire week.
If you already have prediabetes or diabetes this could cause a problem. In that case, you should absolutely, positively avoid sugary sodas. This will help to prevent blood sugar spikes like low carb mixed drinks.