The Keto Diet and Alcohol

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?

Keto diet Friendly alcohol
Keto friendly Cocktail

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.

 

Alcohol on Keto Diet…bad choices?

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

Hard Liquor

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

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.

White Wine

Red Wine

Beer

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:

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 syndromein rats!

 

 


Custom Keto Diet 

Conclusion

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

Keto Bandeeto

 

 

38 thoughts on “The Keto Diet and Alcohol”

  1. Wow. Very well thought out, researched post.

    Thanks for providing great info with terrific graphics.

    And a really cool name. Keto Bandeeto. Very nice.

  2. Very interesting article and have actually made a note of it, keep up the good work and im sure things will work out good 🙂
    The size and structure to this article I do love.
    Jason 🙂

    1. Jason,
      Glad you enjoyed it… Alcohol was one of the items that I really have not struggle with. I think I might be a lab rat, because I’ve pretty much stopped drinking cold turkey without much trouble at all. The occasional drink at social gatherings… and those pretty much out of the question so far in 2020
      Thanks for commenting!

      Bob

  3. I like what you have done here. It certainly gives the appearance that you are well informed on this subject. I am in with the class of people that says: what, no booze I am outta here!!! Very good job. You played this out well and it’s very compelling. Good luck I am cheering for you!

    1. Thanks Dale… I was in the very same class of people when I got started. The funny thing is that just like the lab rats, after being on Keto for a while and seeing the progress I was making I became hesitant to stall the progress over a few low carb beers. Today I’m no longer a big drinker… I haven’t joined a monastery, and I’ll participate at certain social functions… but I just like how I feel when I’m clear headed.
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Wonderful tips on loosing weight and useful tips controlled on consuming alcoholic drinks while on wright loose regime. thank for the information. It seems I can take some useful information from here.
    Rajiv

  5. Thanks for a well researched and fun article. I like the references to the Disneyland line cutters. If ever you ski in Europe you will find similar extremely annoying, mostly French kids do the same thing at the lift lines. I put myself on a diet a few times in recent years and I know I have to lower my alcohol intake as I invariably feel much more susceptible to feeling drunk much more quickly and that is only on a glass of wine. One occasional glass of wine is what I would typically allow myself. The problem becomes if that “occasional” turns into one at lunchtime then another with dinner etc. Thanks and best regards, Andy

    1. I know what you mean about the “occasional” glass of wine. The funny thing is that as I’ve become more in tune with foods that I’m eating, I find myself “testing” the effects of different foods, getting in touch with how I feel after eating ____ (fill in the blank). I’ve gotten addicted to feeling great, alert, lighter etc…. to the point where although I still enjoy a glass of wine now and then, I really don’t like how I feel the day after… hope this makes sense. Thanks for commenting!
      Bob

  6. This is really good information, thanks. I don’t follow a keto diet, but still limit my carbs, so this topic is something I’ve thought about too. Fortunately I’m not a big drinker, so it’s not too much of an inconvenience. One thing that helps me with motivation to not have a drink when I go out (when going out was a thing) is reminding myself that alcohol is a depressant, so it slows down the metabolism in general – which means that it won’t burn calories as efficiently.
    Anyway, great post, I enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks Jordan, I think the key take away is “Anything in moderation”…. I know that’s so cliche, but whether your Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers etc., there are going to be social situations that call for a drink or two… in fact in some cases it’s can be mildly awkward it you don’t participate… it’s just good to have a strategy around it that supports your health goals too!
      Thanks for commenting

      Bob

  7. Hi Bob,

    Great article as always.

    I kind of feel a little better about myself now.

    I’ll openly admit that I do enjoy a drink every now and then, but I’ve had to curtail certain “refreshments” because of keto.

    I’m particularly glad to see three names on your list, as they have become my “go-to” drinks over the last year or so.

    If I’m out for a meal, then I see no harm in a glass or two of Pinot Grigio, and if red wine takes my fancy, Pinot Noir is the elixir of choice.

    Plus, the occasional weekend bottle of Coors Light with my buddies leaves me guilt-free and satisfied.

    Thanks
    Partha

    1. Hey Partha….Thanks for being a returning reader!
      I’m amazed at how deeply alcohol is entrenched in our culture… and I never noticed it until I took a break from it when I started on Keto. Enjoying an adult beverage with friends is wonderful and after all these weeks of isolation I miss getting together with friends and colleagues… and look forward to being able to have a cocktail or two with friends… I just have a strategy around it that support my health goals at the same time!
      Thanks for commenting!

      Bob

  8. I used to be my worse enemy when it came to alcohol and for years I abused it, and only in the last couple of years have I stopped and only on rare occasions do I partake.

    I have tried dieting in the past but always fell at the first hurdle. Discipline is something that I don’t have when it comes to food.

    Exercise seems to do it for me nowadays but always appear to be stuck at a certain weight.

    Interesting to know those facts about alcohol though and I like the idea of the Keto Diet.

    Great post and thank you for sharing.

    Mick

    1. Mick….
      I’ve been there and it can be so frustrating. Think about running an experiment for 30 days…that’s long enough to see if what you’re doing is working and short enough that you can get thru it without too much angst. At the end of the month you’ll have the satisfaction of completing the trial, more importantly you’ll have insight and data to analyze to make a decision on whether or not this makes sense for you. Let me know if you have any questions about giving Keto a whirl… I’d love to help anyway I can
      Bob

  9. Hey Bob,

    This is a great article. I have tried to give up alcohol for the whole year, but until this pandemic started I’ve started again. So my diet has dropped a bit because after I’ve had a drink, the next day I am in no mood to anything really. I don’t like how I am when I’m hungover.

    So, I need to cut out alcohol altogether if I’m going to stick to my diet. I will let you know how I am getting on with it and if I need any further help.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the amazing work on your site.

    All the best,

    Tom

    1. Hey Tom… thanks for being returning reader!
      This pandemic has put a kink in my routine as well… not so much with alcohol… with bars & restaurants closed, the pull for social drinking are a non-factor… the late night snacking has been my biggest challenge… if only watching Netflix burned more calories!
      Thanks for commenting… reach out to me if I can help in any way
      Bob

  10. Amazing post!
    I love the bit where you get profanity written on your forehead :p
    I had no idea alcohol would affect you more whitout carbs. Personally I am trying to drink as little as possible, the long term effects just doesn’t justify a night out for me.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Martine!
      Back in the day, I ran with a crowd that you didn’t want to be “that guy”… the guy that passed out early in the night while the rest of the guys were still partying hard… the misgivings of youth! When I decided to try Keto and stop drinking, I was amazed at how good I felt… it got me hooked and after a night of social drinking the difference the following morning was stark… I wasn’t hungover…I know what a hangover feels like… this was more subtle, waking up in a fog and I don’t like it.
      Thanks for commenting!
      Bob

    2. This was a really interesting read as I am considering the transition to a healthier lifestyle with my fiancé. It’s good to know that you can still stick to a keto diet while consuming alcohol in moderation.

      That being said, I love that you broke down exactly how alcohol interacts with the body and what it means for staying in ketosis. Very detailed article, I appreciated that you gave specific examples of low-carb beverage options. Thank you for info!!

  11. Hi Bob,

    Thank you for your article. I am considering Keto diet, is the only diet I haven’t given a try yet. I do enjoy a nice glass of red from time to time and I am happy to see that dry red wine is one of the best options to go with for a Keto diet.  However, you mentioned that alcohol interrupts the ketosis so I will try to drink as little as possible whilst on Keto diet

    Kind regards,

    Yoana

    1. Hey Yoana,

      Red wine is my favorite, when I’m drinking wine. During the lock down I’ve stolen a glass or two while cooking. Like anything else, if you drink in moderation you won’t interrupt your ketosis, but make note of how you feel the next morning after a glass or two… my new Keto super power is heightened sensitivity to after effects of alcohol… 

  12. This post has been a revelation for me. I’ve never understood why I had become so intolerant to alcohol in recent years (i.e. getting drunk after just a few sips of beer!) while some time back I could cope with an all-nighter of booze flowing from all directions! Now I know why – because I’ve drastically cut down on carbs, so the alcohol hits me faster! I had cut on them because I just felt lighter without them, and less sleepy. (I used to eat a lot of carbs, pasta, pizza, bread, and had to have a nap every afternoon as a result.) I’d like to ask you about the keto diet’s propensity to dehydrate though. What causes that, and can long-term keto-dieting be detrimental to one’s health? Thanks!

    1. Hey Lucie… when your body burns fat instead of carbs, it produces ketones, which must be passed via frequent and increased urination. This can lead to dehydration and a loss of electrolytes. I’ve been on keto for 2 years as of tomorrow (Cinco de Mayo). Once I reach my target weight, I can see adding more vegetables and incorporate some fruit, like a mediterranean or Paleo diet, but the tenets of the Keto (eat whole foods, restrict sugars & processed foods) will remain. 

  13. Hi Bob 

    It is interesting to read about how the keto diet and alcohol can be done together, as often you think they do not go as you assume that in alcoholic drinks there are some hidden sugars. The more alcohol that is present will tells us that the sugars have been converted to alcohol, but the major problem is that ethanol has a  high calorific value,  which can soon add to the pounds.  It is not only about the carbohydrates, I think it is important to reduce alcohol intake in you are undertaking the keto diet.

    Thanks

    Antonio

    1. Antonio,

      I agree with you… weight loss comes from maintaining a caloric deficit and alcohol can be calorie dense. Some of the options in the post are moderate in calories (Lite beers around 100 calories, vodka around 80 per shot). The REAL enemy is the effect on will power… 3 beers at approximately 300 calories is one thing, but then compound it with nachos or chili cheese fries and boom! Kicked right out of “Klub Ketosis”…. you’re right… reduce alcohol while on keto, 

  14. Thank you for an interesting post!

    I don’t deny I love my beer, especially real ale! So going without due to a diet would be a right kick in the guts. But we all have to consider our health first.

    I didn’t realise there were  low carb versions of beer in existence! I notice they are mostly ‘lagers’. Still a little confused though, because surely sugar makes alcohol? or am I being ignorant and silly?

    I also like my whiskey (usually single malts). Do these contain carbs / sugar?

    1. Sugar is converted to alcohol, so single malt whiskey’s like Johnny Walker or Chivas regal have zero carbs. You just need to stay away from the mixers that contain high sugar content. 

      Thanks for commenting!

      Bob

  15. Alcohol has always been my arch nemesis when I follow any diet restriction. I just love socializing so much and it is just so hard to just have only one drink. Of course one drink led to another and that is when poor food decision comes in lol. 

    Omg I love that Disneyland line analogy. And hey! I love singing karaoke, I will survive is my anthem. 

    I have to say that when I skip alcohol I can lose weight quicker. I always feel bloated when I drink too much and when I take a break, I am less bloated. It is just like you said our body will use the energy from alcohol first then the rest of the glycogen (which should not have any left if you are in ketosis) then convert fat to energy. 

    I say it is ok to have 2 servings when you want to go out and socialize but choose wisely. Moderation is the key in my opinion. Cutting alcohol all out will not make your keto journey sustainable. Just remember that you still have tmr or the weekends to drink but you just choose not to. The right word to say is “you choose”, you make the decision 🙂

    1. I reserve all of my Gloria Gaynor performances for the shower… it’s standing room only and the acoustics are phenomenal… I think you hit the nail on the head when you emphasize “choice”. It’s all part of a larger goal… “living on purpose”, every action has a reaction, acknowledge and own every action that you take. Understand the effects of alcohol (or anything that you eat) with respect to your weight management goals and make the choice… and own it!

      Thanks for being a return  reader and for commenting!

      Bob

  16. Thank you so much for this post, quite long but it was worth the time, I understand that a lot of conscious, calculated and delibrate effort was using in putting this article together, I’ve always been worrried about alcohol and keto diet, now i know better and my friend who is in Neto diet new to see this. Also I’ve saves this site for further information.

    1. Thanks Jomata,

      Sorry for the lengthy post, but I’m glad you found value and enjoyed it.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Bob

  17. Even on a keto diet, there are plenty of low-carb alcoholic beverages to choose from. Wine, light beer and pure forms of alcohol — such as whiskey, rum and gin — offer few or zero carbs per serving and are easily paired with low-carb mixers like seltzer, diet soda or sugar-free tonic water.thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us,keep up the good work.

    1. Wilson,

      I agree… the low carb/Keto craze has made it to the point where big manufacturers like Michelob, Budweiser, Coors and others are catering to keto lifestyle with low carb options. It’s all good as long as you stay within daily macros

      Thanks for commenting

      Bob

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