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Alcohol & Ketosis 2023 – Can You Drink Alcohol On Keto And Still Lose Weight?
Is there anything sadder than waking up and realizing that you totally blew your diet at a party the night before?
It’s something we’re all guilty of from time to time. A beer here, a shot there, and, suddenly, the entire room is packing itself into an Uber, en route to Wendy’s at three in the morning. Again?
Alcohol is highly caloric, and, when we drink it, we tend to overeat on top of this fact.
If you’ve recently decided to go keto, you might end up saving yourself the trouble by cutting out alcohol completely. Those determined to get their fix, however, will be glad to know that the occasional glass of wine is nothing that they’ll be forced to deprive themselves of when the time to boogie down has come to pass once again.
Can You Drink Alcohol On Keto And Still Lose Weight?
Can you drink alcohol on a keto diet? It’s ultimately a personal choice to make but be warned: choosing to drink alcohol will, in fact, have at least some impact on your keto diet, even if you go with an option that is extremely low-carb.
If you have enough carbs left in your day for drinking alcohol, you can certainly indulge, but it isn’t always the best choice to make if weight loss is your goal.
What Is Keto?
Keto, also known as the ketogenic diet, is one popular way to lose weight.
Originally invented to treat patients with epilepsy by Russel Wilder in 1921, the regime takes advantage of the body’s natural catabolic response to starvation. It’s a simple diet, one that bans all carbohydrates in order to achieve this physical state and to trick the body into overdrive.
Typically, on the keto diet, you should consume no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, or reduce your carb intake to less than ten percent of your total daily intake. The carbs that you eat should be complex, high-quality, and nutrient-rich.
The keto diet works because starving the body of carbohydrates forces it to turn instead to its glycogen stores. When these stores are depleted and no other carbohydrates are available, gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis set in. What do these terms mean, exactly?
- Gluconeogenesis describes the conversion of compound nutrients like amino acids into glucose so the body can use it for fuel.
- Ketogenesis is the process by which the body produces ketones, the net result of the body converting fatty acids into energy. Your body does not bust into your fat stores unless there is no glucose available. Depriving it of glucose encourages it to pull from these excess stores.
When both of these processes are bent to your advantage, you end up burning more fat. Keto has also been shown to improve long-term cardiovascular health, preventing heart disease for life, as well as the condition of diabetics in some cases.
Another benefit (Or drawback!) of a low-carb, high-fat diet is that, if you stay dedicated, you might have to cut back on your holiday drinking. Why is this?
Alcohol And Ketosis
The body processes alcohol differently, depending on the person, the lifestyle, the frequency of consumption, and the fitness levels of the person doing the drinking. Our best piece of advice: know thyself, and know how many calories you’re aiming for every day. With these two factors in mind, you’ll be able to make the appropriate choice for your needs and your fat-burning goals.
Alcohol also imposes a negative effect on the fat-burning process; it takes the place of other sources of fuel in the body, easily accessible and ready to go. This alcohol absorption gratifies your body instantly, leaving your existing fat stores totally untouched; why not maximize your effort by abstaining entirely, or even just dialing things back a bit?
With all of that being said, aside from these unrelated consequences, the best and worst drinks for keto have little to do with anything other than net carb content. If weight gain on your weekends concerns you, the following guidelines should make the right choice for you.
The Worst Alcoholic Drinks To Drink On The Keto Diet
Experienced drinkers already know that alcohol is carb-laden, far from a low-carb drink under any circumstances. If you’re on a strict keto diet, chances are, you’re not going to be wasting an entire day’s worth of carbs on your evening imbibement.
Still, the occasional drink is something that many of us may find hard to pass up. Is it possible to enjoy a night out on the town with your friends without breaking the proverbial bank?
Absolutely. Granted, the words “diet” and “alcohol” don’t really go hand-in-hand, but if you can handle the extra calories, there are plenty of low-carb alcoholic beverages that you can work into your new routine.
The secret? Choosing keto-friendly drinks and avoiding the ones that might push your body over its limit.
The unfortunate truth: you might need to kiss your weekly margarita or bloody mary goodbye.
Yes, mixed drinks are absolutely delicious, and with good reason. They’re full of caloric alcohol, sweet fruit juices, dangerously deceptive tonic water, sugary soda, and even cream or milk if you’re drinking at a hip enough spot.
None of the above is conducive to weight loss; in fact, if you’re serious about your low-carb diet, we would take mixed drinks off of the table entirely. They’re far from keto-friendly, and your lowered inhibitions may leave you vulnerable to a greatly increased risk of over-indulging.
Of course, this category doesn’t include liquor mixed with something low-carb or zero-calorie, such as seltzer water or diet soda. Beware of the hidden grams of carbs in tonic water, however – while it does, in fact, look a lot like seltzer, it contains plenty of added sugar. No, thank you.
Some of us worry about pasta night when considering a keto diet. Others? The wonderful world of beer.
They say that the best things in life don’t ever come easy. If you’re adamant about weight loss, letting go of your favorite beer might be the ultimate sacrifice. It is, after all, made of grain, hops, and barley – where does pasta even come from, anyway?
Some of the worst offenders on our list:
- Guinness Extra Stout (14 carbs per serving)
- Stella Artois (13 carbs per serving)
- Blue Moon (13 carbs per serving)
Do keto-friendly beers even exist? Well, yes and no – some of your options soar high above the rest. More on that in a moment.
The Best Alcoholic Drinks For Keto
If none of your favorite go-tos made it onto the list above, you’re in luck. The ketogenic diet is a numbers game, through and through. If you can find a drink that fits the nutritional profile that you’re striving for, you’ve got a winning combination. Bottoms up.
Choosing keto-friendly drinks will usually end up being a matter of purity. Keeping things simple means there’s no secret sugar lurking unseen beneath the glamor and fanfare – another suggestion might be to avoid buying mixed drinks when you’re out on the town, drinking them only when mixing each concoction yourself.
Obviously, this might be more difficult for some types of people to commit to than others. Instead of cloistering yourself like a nun, you can stick to the relatively safe bets listed below.
If you really need to get a sip in, nothing will give you more booze per carb than an ounce or two of the good stuff.
When taken straight-up, the following low-carb alcohol options all contain zero carbs:
Not all liquor is created equal, of course. If you avoid choosing flavored alcohol, your choice probably won’t contain any added sugar or empty calories aside from the alcohol itself.
Champagne And Wine (Extra Dry or Brut)
Light wine, sparkling wine, and champagne are all surprisingly keto-friendly.
On average, these drinks will usually contain around 2 grams of carbs per eight-ounce serving, making them the perfect splurge for a keto lifestyle. Cheat day, anyone?
Rough day at the office? Dr. White Claw is here to soothe what ails you.
If you enjoy flavored seltzer on its own and would like to give your adult beverage a fruity kick, try mixing in one of your favorite brands for a low-carb alcoholic drink that’s both keto- and budget-friendly. If you prefer something sweeter, this is one great option that won’t have you plugging your nose all night as you relax.
Any of the types of alcohol mentioned above can all be made lighter and more refreshing by drinking them with something bubbly – you could even try other water-based mix-ins, such as tea, rosemary water, or even coffee. We love making our own wine coolers using this trick, especially for those long summer evenings chilling out in the backyard.
Your favorite IPA might not be on this best-of list, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick back with a cold one every now and again. If you’re keeping it low-carb, a light beer option will be just the ticket.
Some of the ones that we like include:
- Miller 64 Extra Light (2 carbs per serving, ABV 2.8%)
- Corona Premier (2.6 carbs per serving, ABV 4%)
- Michelob Ultra (2.6 carbs per serving, ABV 4.2%)
If your pet brand isn’t mentioned here, give its lighter alternative a try instead of the full-cal version, if the company produces it. If not, there’s no time like the present to give something new a whirl; when in doubt, just look up the beer’s nutrition facts online for the full disclosure.
The Bottom Line
The perfect keto drink doesn’t exist, but the options that we have enumerated here certainly come close to the mark. Whether you’re catching up with old friends, celebrating with family, or simply taking a well-deserved Sunday afternoon off, you can enjoy something intoxicating and delicious, all while keeping it keto-friendly.
+ 4 sources
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- Wheless, J.W. (2008). History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia, [online] 49, pp.3–5. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x [Accessed 13 Nov. 2021].
- Mohan, V. and Shilpa, J. (2018). Ketogenic diets: Boon or bane? Indian Journal of Medical Research, [online] 148(3), p.251. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251269/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2021].
- Dhillon, K.K. and Sonu Gupta (2021). Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493179/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2021].
- Shelmet, J.J., Reichard, G.A., Skutches, C.L., Hoeldtke, R.D., Owen, O.E. and Boden, G. (1988). Ethanol causes acute inhibition of carbohydrate, fat, and protein oxidation and insulin resistance. Journal of Clinical Investigation, [online] 81(4), pp.1137–1145. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329642/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2021].