Is alcohol prohibited on the Keto Diet? Will a Killian’s Irish Red kick you right out of ketosis? Does happy hour signal last call for your low carb lifestyle? That’s a question that comes up fairly often and a concern for people thinking about following a low carb keto lifestyle. The short answer yes… you can have alcohol on the Keto diet and stay on track, but there’s a catch (Note to self, there’s always a catch)
Can you drink alcohol on the Keto Diet?
Let’s take a step back and look at Ketosis. Medical News today defines Ketosis as a “Metabolic process that occurs when the body begins to burn fat for energy because it does not have enough carbohydrates to burn. During this process, the liver produces chemicals called ketones.” On the Keto diet we limit the intake of sugars and carbohydrates and eat healthy fats to encourage or bodies to go into Ketosis and burn fat for energy. This process of breaking down fat and producing ketones is done in the liver.
When we drink alcohol, the body treats alcohol as a poison or toxin the liver immediately prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol…meaning that it breaks down the booze first, like one of those obnoxious season’s pass holders at Disneyland alcohol cuts the line at the Liver and production of ketones has to wait until the alcohol has been processed. So while some alcohol won’t kick you out of ketosis… it will slow down the process
Alcohol effects on the Keto Diet
Carbs are great for managing that tipsy feeling. Pasta, pizza and fries are full of glucose, which your body burns relatively quickly. This slows down the metabolization of alcohol, which helps reduce blood alcohol levels. However, when you’re living a ketogenic lifestyle, you’re eating very few carbs. That means alcohol is processed faster — which leads to getting drunk much quicker and waking up with profanity written on your forehead in magic marker… potentially, at least… depends on the crowd you hang with.
In addition to lowering your tolerance for alcohol, the potential for strong hangovers are increased as alcohol dehydrates the body and the keto diet has a propensity to dehydrate… combined, you run the risk of a bad morning after. If you’re out drinking it’s a good idea to get a water or club soda chaser with your alcohol consumption… future you will thank you for it.
Another really important note to make is the effect of alcohol on your resolve. Just like drinking alcohol can loosen up our inhibitions and prompt you into performing a regrettable rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” in front of friends and colleagues on karaoke night, alcohol can have a negative effect on your will power. After a few cocktails, the macronutrient impact of a large order of chili cheese fries won’t seem so bad after all. The images of you pounding down an order of Nachos Grande Supreme will only be outweighed by the Instagram post of you clumsily dancing to “YMCA” by the Village People pretending to be the Construction worker substituting the hardhat with a lamp shade… good times.
Best Alcohol Options on Keto Diet
Most clear liquors that are around 40 percent alcohol (vodka, whiskey, gin, scotch, brandy, rum and tequila) contain 0 grams of carbs and sugars on their own, which means they’re keto-friendly, karaoke references not withstanding. It’s when you get to the juice and other sugary mixers that you run into trouble. Mixing Vodka with Club Soda with a twist of lime for instance is a perfectly Keto friendly option to have.
Whiskey, scotch or bourbon are dark liquors but still quite low on carbs. For example, Jack Daniels Old # 7 has zero carbs, the same can be said for Johnny Walker Black. However, be careful of the flavored whiskey’s Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire has 8g of carbs in a 1.5 oz serving
Wine can be an excellent choice of alcohol while on the keto diet. A 5 oz. glass of Sauvignon Blanc will contain approximately 3 grams of carbs. A similar glass of Pinot Noir contains about 4 grams of carbs, while a 5 oz. serving of Brut and Extra Dry Champagne range from 1 to 2.5 grams of carbs.
Beer has traditionally been a HARD NO on the keto diet, but as the low carb lifestyle has gained popularity, so too have the beer manufacturers made the to pivot to address the low carb lifestyle. Here’s a short list of low carb beer options:
- Michelob Ultra Light Beer – 95 Calories, 2.6g Total Carbs
- Miller Lite – 96 Calories, 3.2g Total Carbs
- Corona Premier – 90 Calories, 2.6g Total Carbs (It’s got an infectious taste… too soon?)
- Michelob Ultra Pure Gold – 85 Calories, 2.5 Total Carbs
- Coors Light – 102 Calories, 5g Total Carbs
Staying low carb will most likely force you to eliminate all of those trendy micro breweries for the most part, but you can check with your local hotspot to see if they’re making a low carb version.
Go Cold Turkey while on Keto
I can hear some of you rattling your head back and forth… quit drinking and quit carbs at the same time… oh no! It’s understandable that cutting out alcohol all together is a deal-breaker for most people. However, there is some compelling reasons to cut out or severely limit alcohol consumption while on Keto:
- Optimize fat burning effects of ketosis – While the body is processing alcohol it’s not burning fat.
- Reduce Calories – 3 low carb beers is still 300+ calories and weight loss in any program requires a caloric deficit
- Lower resolve – After a few cocktails, justifying a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese won’t seem that hard to do. Images of you proceeding to tell complete strangers that you’re a “grown-ass man and you can eat a DAMN Pizza if you want to” come to mind as you try to remove tomato sauce & oil stains from your favorite shirt the next morning
- Fewer regrets – That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach regretting the pizza you devoured would really be a problem if you could hear it over your pounding headache
Consider taking a break from alcohol, especially if you’re new to the Keto diet. If you’re a moderate to heavy alcohol drinker there’s still hope for you too… evidence that suggests that the Keto Diet suppresses alcohol withdrawal syndrome… in rats!
Key Points: The Keto Diet and Alcohol. There are several important points to remember about alcohol and the ketogenic diet:
- Ketosis is a state in which carbohydrates are not available, so the body burns fat instead
- The liver converts fat into ketones, which the body can use as energy
- The ketogenic diet, combined with a caloric deficit, will lead to weight loss
- Alcohol interrupts the ketosis state and adds extra calories to the diet
- If a caloric deficit is maintained, even after consuming alcohol, weight loss will occur
- The ketogenic diet lowers alcohol tolerance due to low glycogen levels
What are your thoughts about alcohol consumption and the keto diet… or any other dietary regimen?
Can you effectively lose weight or body fat while drinking alcohol?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below