How To Drink Alcohol On A Keto Or Low Carb Diet
Please Note: As an amateur mixologist and cook, I often get questions online in regards to keto and alcohol consumption. Though my teaching degree did include nutritional and culinary arts-based studies, I am not a licensed dietitian or a doctor. Please consult a professional before changing your diet.
One of the questions I often get asked about being on a keto or low carb diet is, “Can I have Alcohol and stay in ketosis?”
The answer is (mostly) yes.
The next question I often get asked is, “What drinks can I order at a bar or make that are keto friendly?”
Lots of them! But you need to know what are the best options for staying keto, and I am here to help!
Part of what I love about living a low carb lifestyle (and sharing here with all of you) is finding ways to avoid the feeling of being on a diet. In fact, most of the time I do not feel like I am missing out on foods or on enjoying my social life. A girls got to have her glass of wine and still lose weight you know?
When I started sharing keto friendly drinks (many which are sugar free) weekly on Instagram, I heard from so many of you who felt like you had to miss out on socializing and enjoying some of your tried and true cocktail favorites while on a ketogenic diet.
However, you actually don’t have to anymore and can easily find ways to incorporate moderate alcohol consumption again on a ketogenic diet when done correctly (knowledge has so much power when it comes to eating and drinking on keto).
Below I’ve provided a guide that you can use as a quick breakdown of how ketosis and alcohol works, so you have a better understanding of what your body experiences from a metabolic level when ingesting alcohol with this way of eating.
Feel free to also check out many of my low carb and keto friendly cocktail recipes I feature weekly on the Bon Appeteach “Book Club” or book mark this page so you can download my guide for “How to Order Keto Cocktails at the Bar” (COMING SOON).
Below, I have outlined important topics and information below to help you understand and educate yourself on keto and on consuming alcohol on this diet, how alcohol tolerance is impacted, and how you can stay in ketosis while still going out on a Saturday night.
So, let’s begin!
What is keto aka ketosis?
First, if you’re new to the keto diet it is important to understand that being “keto” isn’t a food or a drink. But it is a physical, metabolic state.
Meaning, when you switch your bodies main source of energy from carbs to proteins and fats, your body then coverts the way it has to burn energy (that’s the super short and sweet of it).
As your body switches to burning fat for fuel, the byproduct of that fuel source is ketones. Ketones are how we know we are in a metabolic state of burning fat and not carbohydrates.
What does this have to do with consuming alcohol?
Most cocktails, beers, and even wines are considered to be higher in carbs (especially those mixed drinks). If your focus is to stay in ketosis, this can be difficult if you don’t drink the right cocktail.
However, there are still so many options when it comes to drinking because of light beers, lower carb wines, and the fact that most spirits are actually zero carb.
I’ve outlined lots of options for order cocktails at a bar is this guide. But there are plenty of free and helpful recipes right here on Bonappeteach.com and even more at the bottom of this page too.
Don’t worry, I wouldn’t leave you out to dry…
What do I need to know about alcohol when on the keto diet?
The first thing to note, is that even though many cocktails can be under 5 grams of carbs or even zero carbs, when you consume alcohol when in a metabolic state of ketosis, your body will switch to burning that as an energy source first.
Even if it doesn’t throw you out of ketosis, your body will temporarily stop burning fat at that time and switch to burning off the alcohol instead in order to process it out of your liver and your body.
Ultimately, this will slow your weight loss goals temporarily.
Additionally, not EVERY person’s body reacts the same way to alcohol or foods. Some things I eat may not impact my ability to stay in ketosis but could for you. You know you best, so always remember to listen to your own body and how you feel.
How does eating a keto or low carb diet impact my tolerance level?
The next note I would like to point out, is that keto can definitely impact
The next note I would like to point out, is that keto can definitely impact your ability to tolerate alcohol. This might make you a cheap date, and also help you avoid drinking too many drinks that will throw you out of ketosis, but it is something to note in order to be safe.
Please keep this in mind, especially If you are out and plan on driving home. Two cocktails previously, might feel like four now. Please be safe!
Now that we have some of those important notes out of the way. Let’s get to the good stuff, the drinks!
What alcohol can I have on the keto diet?
Spirits & Hard Liquor-
The best place to start is with hard alcohol. Most hard liquors are zero carb so if you know what mixers to work with, you can easily drink a zero-carb cocktail.
The (mostly) zero carb spirits include:
As an avid foodie, I love me some wine! I even have a few sangria recipes that are lower carb too here on my site!
Wine and champagne can be drinkable if you keep them on the dry side. Obviously if it tastes sweet (I’m talking to those Moscato or Prosecco lovers out there), then there’s probably a good chance it has a lot of natural sugars.
Lower carb beers and light beers have been around for a long time! I’ve found some I actually really enjoy (Michelob Ultra isn’t bad for a light beer… this coming from a craft beer lover too my friends).
I even have used beer in my Low Carb Beer Cheese Soup recipe that I made last fall and loved how it came out! Many low carb beers are easily under 4 net carbs.
I have also condensed all the information in my cocktail and keto drink guide for easy access for when you’re out and want to order at the bar!
Step aside #basicwhitegirls, because those White Claws and Truly’s just can’t be beat on a keto diet.
Though you can easily take your own favorite seltzer or carbonated water (aka La Croix) and mix your own, many of these are next to no carbs too.
So, what should I avoid when drinking on a keto diet?
Most of the time, calories and sugar are coming from the mixers in the cocktails (like fruit juices, tonic water, and other liqueurs) and not the hard alcohol itself. Even fresh lime juice or lemon juice contains carbs.
Not all mixers are bad, but it’s important to know what your options are especially when you’re order out. If you are going for simple (yet not “clean keto” as some would say) use a diet soda as a simple way to enjoy a rum and coke for example.
There are plenty of keto friendly alcohol mixers on the market now that are also easily transportable with you to the bar. My favorite mixer is the Zevia Ginger Beer that makes for a great Keto Moscow Mule.
Getting Dehydrated –
We all know that alcohol is a natural diuretic because it is actually suppressing hormones in the body that allow water from your kidneys to return to the bloodstream, thus increasing the need to use the restroom after a few drinks…
Dehydration on keto is definitely going to impact you, and could even make the hangover a lot more intense than normal.
Be sure to replace fluids often when consuming alcohol.
When I first started making cocktails for my cocktail “book club” on Instagram, I realized how bad my food cravings would get after having one or two drinks every Friday night.
I started creating food pairings for the drinks. It was fun, but it also had a purpose.
Be mindful that drinking can often trigger behaviors for wanting to eat at your favorite pizza or late-night taco spot.
Not to say that you still can’t do that, it’s your body. But be aware of the way alcohol may not only impact your physically, but mentally too.
How do I make or order a keto cocktail?
“Book Club”, as it has been dutifully named (code word for when I was a teacher and met up with other coworkers for happy hour on Friday…), just is about cocktails. We never actually read the books, but we do have a lot of fun.
If you’re looking for a great cheat sheet to take out the guess work, I don’t blame you! The teacher in me also created this awesome downloadable guide to all the base liquors, wines, beers, and hard mixers etc. with carb counts.
If you love what you found here and are also looking to support the work I am doing, come back and check my downloadable guide to ordering keto drinks at the bar (cause sometimes we want a little more than a vodka soda and that’s definitely ok)!