Drinking Alcohol on Keto? Here’s All You Need to Know.

So, you’ve embarked on your ketogenic journey, but you’re unsure how to navigate the world of keto alcohol. A common question many keto dieters have is, Does alcohol kick you out of ketosis? Whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail at a social gathering, it’s important to understand the role of alcohol on a keto diet.

In this article, we’ll explore the often-complicated relationship between alcohol and keto, answering key questions like, “Does alcohol kick you out of ketosis?” and “What are the best types of alcohol to consume while on keto?” Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about alcohol on keto, ensuring you can enjoy a drink without sabotaging your diet. Let’s raise a glass to understanding the nuances of keto alcohol!

Many people think that drinking alcohol is forbidden on the keto diet. For many reasons, those people are justified. In addition to being unhealthy overall, alcohol can have a counterproductive effect on someone who is participating in the keto diet.

In this article, we’re going to talk about whether or not you could (or should) drink alcohol on the keto diet, and tell you which types of alcohol or ok (sort of!) and which to avoid.

How the Keto Diet Works

To understand what alcohol does to you on a keto diet, first we have to look at what the keto diet is. The keto diet is a strictly low-carb way of eating that works by putting your body into a state known as ketosis. The diet is mainly consisted of fats, with a moderate amount of protein and as little carbohydrate as possible.

On a normal diet your body uses glucose for energy. Whether you are resting, running, or sleeping, your body is using some of this energy to keep your organs and muscles functioning. If you don’t eat any carbs, you will not have any glucose to provide this energy for your body.

Fortunately for you, your body has a backup mechanism! it will begin to burn fat if there are no glucose stores available. This is why the keto diet can be so effective for helping people lose fat quickly. The state of burning fat as a primary source of energy is called ketosis, and this is the namesake for the keto diet.

For more information on the keto diet and getting started, check out our keto beginner’s guide and these 7 tips for starting a keto diet.

Why Is Alcohol Bad for Keto?

The general consensus is that that alcohol is unhealthy for the keto diet (and in general too). Turns out there are plenty of reasons for this that we’ll explore here:

1. Many Forms of Alcohol Are High in Carbs

best keto alcohol

One of the main reasons that alcohol is a problem for people who are on the keto diet is because many forms of alcohol are high in carbohydrates. 

The reason that this is generally not desirable for people on the keto diet is because consuming carbs can interfere with the process of ketosis. When you’re in ketosis, a single dose of glucose can have a serious impact on your body and weight loss.

This is because your body will have a reduced tolerance to glucose, meaning that it will be highly sensitive to all forms of carbohydrates. Consuming carbs can then lead to serious blood sugar spikes, whilst kicking you out of ketosis.

Furthermore, some studies have revealed that people following a low-carb diet can actually sustain physical damage by suddenly reintroducing high doses of carbs into their diet. Subjects in the study were shown to have elevated levels of biomarkers in their blood, indicating that their blood vessels were damaged.

So how bad are the various alcohols?

How many carbs are in wine?

drink wine on keto diet

Wine is actually a relatively low carb option if you’re looking to stay keto and drink, with around 2g of carbs per small glass. Even on a strict keto diet you could probably slip in a glass or two and stay under 20g total carbs for the day.

If drinking wine, go for drier options if possible as these tend to contain less sugar than sweeter alternatives. In particular, don’t group sweet dessert wines in this category, as these can be packed with sugars (it’s pretty obvious drinking these given how sweet they are!) A 5oz serving of a Sherry or Muscat might set you back 200+ calories and 20g of carbs.

Here are your best keto red wine choices (per 5oz serving):

  1. Pinot Noir: 121 calories, 3.4g carbs
  2. Merlot: 122 calories, 3.7g carbs
  3. Syrah: 122 calories, 3.8g carbs
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon: 122 calories, 3.9g carbs
  5. Zinfandel: 129 calories, 4.2g carbs

And the best keto white wine choices:

  1. Sauvingon Blanc: 119 calories, 3 g carbs
  2. Pinot Gris: 122 calories, 3g carbs
  3. Chardonnay: 123 calories, 3.2g carbs

Champagne is another great choice coming in at 100 calories and 2g carbs per 5oz serving.

How many carbs are in beer?

keto and beer

Beer is particularly high in carbs compared to most alcohols, with 13g or more net carbs per serving. Made mainly from barley, wheat and corn beer has a bunch of readily digestible carbs that will quickly kick you out of ketosis.

Let’s not even mention the famous ‘beer bellies’! Drinking beer regularly and in large amounts is a recipe for disaster if you’re hoping to keep your weight down or lose weight.

Generally speaking you’re going to want to avoid beer if possible and choose a lower carb alternative if you’re staying strict on keto. There are a few low carb brands around if you really want to get your beer fix, check them out below:

  1. Bud Select 55: 55 calories, 1.8g carbs
  2. Michelob Ultra: 95 calories, 2.6g carbs
  3. Bud Select: 99 calories, 3.1g carbs
  4. Miller Lite: 96 calories, 3.2g carbs
  5. Becks: 64 calories 3.2g carbs
  6. Bud Light: 103 calories, 4.6g carbs
  7. Coors Light, 102 calories, 5g carbs

How many carbs are in liquors and spirits?

Pure spirits such as vodka, gin, whiskey etc. are essentially zero carb, meaning they’re unlikely to kick you out of ketosis. Just remember these are neat spirits we’re talking about so moderation is extra important!

The problem with these comes when you want to mix them with something to make them a little more drinkable (neat vodka shots are not a tasty drink in the slightest…)

The mixers are where you need to be careful as we usually like to mix these with sweet juices, sodas and fruits to balance out the alcohol, all of which come with a bunch of carbs. So when picking your mixer, opt for seltzer water, sugar free tonic water or a diet soda drink if necessary.

Liquor may be low carb, but it isn’t low calorie and you do need to be aware that while it may not push you out of ketosis like glucose, it is going to impede your weight loss goals. The main liquors are as follows:

  1. Tequila: 96 calories, 0 carbs
  2. Gin/Rum/Vodka/Whiskey : 110 calories, no carbs

You want to avoid liquers on the other hand, as these often do contain a lot of carbs. Not to be confused with liquors these are flavored spirits often sweetened to make them more drinkable. Examples are Ameretto, Bailey’s, Kahlua etc.

2. Alcohol Changes Your Metabolism

The goal of the keto diet is to stay in ketosis, and that means that you want your metabolism to be working in a very specific manner. Unfortunately, alcohol can interfere with your metabolism in a way that’s not conducive to maintaining ketosis.

One of the reasons for this is that alcohol produces a number of byproducts that the body uses before consuming other nutrients. This is why alcohol can produce such a quick burst of energy. Unfortunately, this can also mess up your ketosis.

Some of the byproducts of alcohol metabolism are acetaldehyde, acetate, and phosphatidyl ethanol. These compounds are pretty toxic, and as such, your body targets them to be ‘burned’ much like it would any other poisons. During this process, your body prioritizes the burning of these toxic compounds above the burning of energy sources – such as glucose and lipids.

This means that the lipids which you’ve worked so hard to get rid of by staying in ketosis are now taking their place on the back-burner. This means that if you drink a lot, or if you drink very often, your body is going to put more time and energy into burning away the byproducts of alcohol.

In short: regular alcohol consumption can actually promote fat storage. 

3. Alcohol is High-Calorie

Even alcohol that is not high in carbs is generally high in calories. While this might not be as disastrous for someone on the keto diet as a dose of carbs, it’s still important to consider the repercussions here.

If you are hoping to lose weight by following this diet plan, then you may well be counting calories. If you’re not already aware, alcohol is known for being very calorie dense.

  • A shot of gin has 73 calories
  • A can of beer has 154 calories
  • A glass of wine has 123 calories

These numbers might not seem that high on their own, but you can see how easy it would be to bulk up your calorie count after having a couple drinks. In fact, just 3-5 drinks can provide you with as many calories as a whole meal.

4. Alcohol Interferes With Decision Making

keto alcohol guide - bad decision making

Aside from the fact that alcohol makes it easier for you to make bad life choices, it’s also notorious for leading people to make terrible dietary choices. Even people who uphold the strictest dietary regime whilst sober have been known to neglect their diets when they’ve been drinking.

If you’re going to be going out for drinks, it’s probably a good idea that you check in with yourself. Are you really strong enough to hold true to your decisions even after you’ve had a few?

Add to that the next day, hangover munchies are a real thing (assuming you’ve not drunk so much you can stand food the next morning) The knock on effect of over-drinking on your diet can be a major cheat day (or two)

5. Keto Lowers Alcohol Tolerance

When you’re on the keto diet, chances are you’ll be drinking a lot less. This means that your alcohol tolerance will be significantly lower than it usually is, which could lead to some embarrassing moments should you decide to drink your normal amount.

Furthermore, your tolerance to glucose drops when you’re on keto. This means that your body will be hyper-sensitive to any form of carbohydrate or sugar, and that you’ll be more prone to carbohydrate crashes. Since the majority of alcoholic beverages are rich in both of these, this could lead you on to an emotional and energetic rollercoaster.

6. Alcohol Is Just All-Around Unhealthy

The other main reason that alcohol is considered unhealthy for dieters is because it’s just plain unhealthy. Alcohol is not a nutrient – in fact, it’s about the opposite of a nutrient. Alcohol can sap your body of the nutrients that it does have, and it can interfere with the digestion and absorption of other nutrients.

That’s not to say that all alcohol is entirely deprived of nutrients. Red wine is well-known for its high antioxidant content, and certain types of beer such as stout are known for being rich in B vitamins. 

However, if you’re a chronic drinker, chances are the negatives of alcohol outweigh the positives. And furthermore, most people aren’t going to the bar in search of the most nutrient-dense alcoholic beverage they can find (though if this is one of your considerations, you’re probably doing better than most!)

What are the Best Alcohol Choices on the Keto Diet?

As discussed, alcohol is generally not ideal for people who are hoping to stay in ketosis. Because of the way that it can interfere with our metabolism, alcohol can actually lead to an increase in fat storage – which is the opposite of what you’re looking for.

However, a drink here and there isn’t the worst thing in the world. If you’re going out for an evening and want to have a drink or two, it’s possible that you can choose some low-carb drinks that won’t wreak havoc on your metabolism.

Obviously the best choice here is no drink at all, but if you’re going to drink go for one of these:

Low-Carb Alcohols

If you’re going to be drinking alcohol on the keto diet, then you’re going to want to make sure that you stick with low-carb drinks. 

If you like your drinks on the rocks, then you’re in luck, because most forms of hard liquor are free from carbs. This means that you can drink whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, and vodka (in moderation, of course) without having to worry too much about throwing off your carb count. 

That said, it’s still important to remember that alcohol can adversely affect ketosis, regardless of whether or not it’s high in carbs. That said, here’s a brief list of some of the low-carb drinks you can indulge in without too much guilt.

  • A shot of rum, vodka, gin, tequila, or whiskey, containing 0 carbs.
  • A glass of red or white wine, containing between 3-4 grams of carbs.
  • A can of light beer, containing roughly 3 grams of carbs.
  • Light seltzers (ie: alcohol flavored seltzer water)

As you can see, you can drink any of the above without causing too much damage, in moderation. 1 glass of red isn’t going to cause too much trouble, one bottle on the other hand…..

Low Carb Mixers

Now you know that there are certain types of alcohol that you can drink without throwing yourself out of ketosis. The next thing to be cautious of is what sort of mixers are being used to make your drinks. 

The most popular drinks are generally made with mixers like juice, carbonated soda, and energy drinks – all of which are quite high in carbs.

If you want to make a delicious, low-carb drink, then consider using some of the following zero-carb mixers.

  • Tonic water (as long as it’s sugar-free)
  • Seltzer or other types of carbonated water
  • Diet soda
  • Crystal Light or other carb-free juice mixes

Low Carb Cocktails

It’s worth learning a few low carb cocktail choices that you can take to any decent bar and be confident you aren’t downing a bunch of sugar with that spirit. Here are a few common cocktails that are low or no carb:

  • Gin and Tonic (sugar free)
  • Gin/Vodka Martini
  • Vodka, Lime and Soda
  • Tequila, Lime and Soda
  • Whisky and Diet Coke

Is Vodka Keto Friendly?

Good news for vodka enthusiasts – vodka is generally considered keto-friendly! This popular distilled spirit is a staple in many cocktails and can be enjoyed without derailing your ketosis journey, provided you consume it mindfully and in moderation.

When it comes to carb counts, vodka stands out as one of the lowest-carb alcoholic beverages available. In its pure form, vodka contains zero carbs, making it an attractive choice for those following a strict ketogenic regimen. However, it is essential to be cautious of flavored or infused vodkas, as they may contain added sugars or high-carb ingredients that can increase the carb content significantly. Always check the label and opt for plain vodka or those specifically labeled as sugar-free or low-carb to stay true to your keto goals.

While vodka itself doesn’t interfere with ketosis, it’s crucial to remember that our bodies prioritize metabolizing alcohol over other macronutrients. As a result, when you consume alcohol, your fat-burning process may temporarily stall until the alcohol is processed and eliminated from your system. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, which might intensify keto flu symptoms. To mitigate these effects, hydrate well and enjoy vodka in moderation, allowing your body ample time to return to its ketone-burning state.

For an optimal keto experience, consider pairing vodka with keto-friendly mixers or enjoying it neat. Avoid sugary cocktails or high-carb additives, such as fruit juices or regular soda, which can significantly spike your carb intake. Instead, opt for soda water, sparkling water, or diet soda as mixers to keep your carb count in check. Garnish your drink with a twist of lemon or lime for a refreshing, low-carb twist.

How Many Calories in a Shot of Vodka?

A standard shot of vodka, which is 1.5 ounces (44 ml), contains approximately 96 calories. These calories come solely from the alcohol content as vodka does not contain any carbohydrates, fats, or proteins. It’s important to be mindful of the caloric intake from alcoholic beverages when considering overall dietary choices, that includes keto.

How Much Sugar is in Vodka? Does Vodka Have Carbs?

Vodka is a distilled spirit that typically does not contain any sugar. During the distillation process, the sugar present in the base ingredients (such as grains or potatoes) gets converted into alcohol. As a result, a standard shot of vodka, which is 1.5 ounces (44 ml), contains negligible amounts of sugar, usually less than 1 gram. It’s essential to note that flavored vodkas may have added sugars, but plain, unflavored vodka itself is sugar-free. As with any alcoholic beverage, moderation is important, considering both caloric content and potential health implications.

Is Whisky Keto Friendly?

How Many Carbs in Whisky?

Unlike many other alcoholic drinks, whisky is relatively low in carbohydrates. Since whisky is made through the fermentation and distillation of grains like barley, rye, or corn, it naturally contains some residual carbs. However, the distillation process significantly reduces the carbohydrate content, making it a better choice for keto enthusiasts compared to beer, wine, or sugary cocktails.

On average, a standard serving of whisky (around 1.5 ounces or 44 ml) contains less than one gram of net carbs. This negligible amount of carbs makes whisky an appealing option for those aiming to maintain ketosis while indulging in an occasional drink.

Can You Drink Whisky on Keto?

The keto diet’s main principle is to keep carbohydrate intake low to encourage the body to burn fat for energy, a metabolic state known as ketosis. Given whisky’s relatively low carb content, it can be considered keto-friendly in moderation.

Know Your Limits

It’s important to make sure that you know your limits when you’re drinking alcohol, regardless of whether or not you’re on keto. Realistically, though, you should set your limits quite a bit lower when you’re on a diet.

There are plenty of reasons to keep your alcohol consumption down. 

  • Alcohol is filled with empty calories, meaning that you’re going to be downing a lot of nutrient-free energy that will have to be burned off by your body.
  • Alcohol can actually increase your chances of gaining weight and throw off the benefits of being in ketosis.
  • Alcohol tends to sap the body of nutrients and can lead to nutritional deficiencies, especially when consumed on a regular basis.
  • Alcohol can lead to the development of serious mental and physical health problems.

These are some of the most obvious reasons that you should moderate your alcohol consumption. 

‘Moderation’ is generally acknowledged as being no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two for men. However, when you’re on the keto diet, you probably don’t want to be drinking every day – even if it’s just a single drink. This will only make it more difficult for your body to adapt to ketosis.

Keto Alcohol Take-Aways

Many people think that alcohol is a definite nope for anyone on the keto diet. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. Deciding whether or not you want to drink alcohol on the keto diet depends on a number of factors. 

There are a few things to keep in mind before heading out to the bar.

  • There are many different types of alcohol, some of which are actually quite low in carbohydrates. Hard alcohols are virtually carb-free, and wine contains no more than 3 carbs per glass.
  • Even though some alcohol may be carb free, all alcohol creates toxic byproducts that your body must burn off. Your body prioritizes burning these compounds over fats and carbs, and this can throw off your ketosis.
  • Regular alcohol consumption can actually promote fat storage.
  • If you are going to drink alcohol while you’re on keto, make sure you choose a low-carb source of alcohol and use a low-carb mixer. 

If you remember this information and follow the tips that we’ve provided in this article, then you should have no problems. Remember – moderation is key.

Keto Alcohol FAQs

Can I drink alcohol while following a keto diet?

Yes, you can drink alcohol on a keto diet, but you should be mindful of the type of alcohol and its potential impact on your diet. Some alcoholic beverages are low in carbs and can be incorporated into a keto diet in moderation, while others are high in sugars and should be avoided.

Which alcoholic beverages are the most keto-friendly?

Spirits such as vodka, rum, gin, tequila, and whiskey are typically carb-free, so they’re the most keto-friendly options. Dry wines are also relatively low in carbs. However, moderation is key, as alcohol can stall weight loss and lead to other health issues.

Can I drink beer while on a keto diet?

Regular beer is generally high in carbs and not recommended on a keto diet. Some light beers may be lower in carbs, but they are still likely to disrupt ketosis if consumed in excess.

How does alcohol affect ketosis?

While the body is processing alcohol, it is not burning fat. This means that although consuming low-carb alcoholic beverages won’t necessarily kick you out of ketosis, it could slow down the fat burning process, potentially stalling your weight loss efforts.

How should I manage my alcohol consumption on a keto diet?

If you choose to drink alcohol while on a keto diet, opt for the lowest-carb options and drink in moderation. Remember to hydrate, as both keto and alcohol can be dehydrating, and monitor your body’s response.

Are there any keto-friendly cocktail recipes?

Yes, there are keto-friendly cocktails out there! Try using a carb-free spirit like vodka or gin, mix with soda water and add a squeeze of lime or lemon. Avoid sugary mixers like fruit juice or regular soda.

Are alcoholic beverages high in calories?

Yes, alcoholic beverages can be quite high in calories, which is another reason to consume them in moderation. While they may fit into your carb count for the day, they can still lead to calorie overconsumption and hinder weight loss.

How does alcohol affect appetite and cravings?

Alcohol can stimulate appetite and lower inhibitions, which might lead you to overeat or make poor food choices. This is something to be mindful of when consuming alcohol while trying to stick to a keto diet.

Can alcohol consumption affect my sleep while on a keto diet?

Yes, alcohol can negatively impact sleep quality, regardless of diet. While on a keto diet, you may already be dealing with changes to your sleep patterns, and alcohol could exacerbate these issues. It’s best to consume it in moderation, and not too close to bedtime.

Is it possible to drink alcohol at social events while maintaining my keto diet?

Yes, you can still enjoy social events and consume alcohol. Opt for low-carb options like spirits or dry wines, and avoid sugary mixers or cocktails. It’s important to remember that moderation is key.

Are there any hangover considerations on a keto diet?

As both alcohol and a keto diet can be dehydrating, you might find your hangovers are more severe when combining the two. To help prevent this, ensure you’re drinking plenty of water and replenishing your electrolytes.

Are sugar-free or “diet” mixers a good option for keto-friendly drinks?

Sugar-free and diet mixers can be a low-carb alternative to traditional mixers. However, they often contain artificial sweeteners which can impact blood sugar levels and potentially disrupt ketosis for some individuals.

Can alcohol affect my mood or mental clarity while on a keto diet?

Yes, alcohol can impact your mood and mental clarity. This can be particularly noticeable on a keto diet, where your brain is primarily fueled by ketones instead of glucose. Drinking alcohol may lead to heightened feelings of anxiety or cause foggy thinking. It’s another good reason to consume alcohol mindfully and in moderation while following a ketogenic lifestyle.

Does alcohol kick you out of ketosis

Not necessarily, but it can pause the process. When you consume alcohol, your body prioritizes metabolizing it as it can’t be stored for later use. This means that while your body is busy breaking down alcohol, it’s not producing ketones. So, while alcohol won’t directly kick you out of ketosis, it effectively slows or pauses ketosis. If you opt for low-carb alcoholic drinks and consume in moderation, you can likely maintain ketosis. However, keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, and the way alcohol impacts ketosis can vary from person to person.

How does alcohol affect hydration on keto?

Alcohol can lead to dehydration, which might intensify keto flu symptoms. Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated when consuming alcohol.

Can drinking alcohol slow down weight loss on keto?

Excessive alcohol consumption can hinder weight loss on the keto diet. Alcohol provides empty calories and can lead to poor food choices, impacting your overall progress.

Is there a “keto hangover” from drinking alcohol?

Some people may experience worse hangover symptoms on keto due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes to alleviate potential hangover effects.

How many drinks can I have on the keto diet

The number of drinks you can have while staying in ketosis varies based on individual tolerance and metabolism. Generally, one to two drinks on occasion may be manageable for most, but it’s essential to listen to your body and avoid excessive consumption.