Alcohol gets a bad rep, and is certainly one of the most abused substances in the world. It can become a serious problem when it interferes with your personal/social life and well-being. To enjoy it we need to exercise moderation and self-control.
If you like having a couple of beers, shots, or glasses of wine to relax or have a good time on weekends, you’re in good shape! But throw a low carb diet into the mix, and you may find yourself struggling with the quantity of alcohol you’re drinking. People on a keto or low carb diet notice their tolerances significantly drop. And when you realize your favorite drink contains more than 30 grams of carbs in a small serving, you may consider giving alcohol up.
Why you should consider giving up Alcohol following the Keto Lifestyle?
You can certainly drink some types of alcohol on a ketogenic, low carb diet without guilt. But there are reasons why drinking alcohol can potentially sabotage your goals.
- YOU TURN INTO A BOTTOMLESS PIT HUNGRY FOR CALORIES
Alcohol is packed with empty calories. The calories you get from alcohol — 7.1 per gram to be exact — offer no nutritional value.
You won’t feel full, and you’ll be more likely to overeat unhealthy foods since your inhibitions are lowered. This can make your stomach seem like a bottomless pit, scrounging for more calories as soon as you finish your first drink.
And, you’ll imbibe a large number of calories getting there. Alcohol has double the number of calories per gram compared to protein.
- YOU TURN OFF YOUR BODY’S ABILITY TO BURN FAT FOR FUEL
Did you know your body treats alcohol as a toxic substance? When it enters your bloodstream, your body shifts gears and focuses all of its energy on processing the alcohol out of your system.
Everything else hits the pause button, including properly digesting your alcohol, including the carb-heavy meal you may have considered a solid base for drinking. When this happens, your body stores that excess energy of sugar and carbs as fat.
Since your body is busy filtering out alcohol, it stops using fat for energy like it normally does when you are in ketosis. It uses the empty calories you drank for fuel. This won’t help you reach or maintain ketosis — it has the opposite effect.
If you’ve been struggling to reach ketosis, start by reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake.
If you can avoid succumbing to high-calorie cravings and you don’t plan on drinking enough to kick you out of ketosis, there’s still one more aspect to consider before you order that drink.
- YOU’LL GET DRUNK FASTER AND YOUR HANGOVER MAY BE WORSE
Whether you have a glass of red wine or two with your friends after work or plan to drink beer through 18 holes of golf on the weekend, following a keto diet alters alcohol’s effect on your body.
When you’re in ketosis, alcohol hits your system faster and stronger than it did when your body was housing more carbohydrates. Your alcohol tolerance plummets to near zero when you’re in ketosis.
Typically, people have plenty of glycogen stored in their bodies thanks to carb-heavy diets, which serve as a cushion for metabolizing alcohol. Without this buffer, your body processes alcohol much faster and you’ll feel the effects sooner.
Those on a ketogenic diet also report experiencing harsher hangovers compared to when they ate a high carb diet. While there aren’t definitive studies proving why this happens, dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes seem to play a part. Both dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can occur when you drink alcohol and when you’re in ketosis, creating the perfect storm for intense hangovers.
But, can you minimize the downsides of drinking alcoholic beverages on a ketogenic diet?
What Alcohol Can You Drink on a Ketogenic Diet?
Due to all the reasons listed above, alcohol intake should be minimized on any diet, and particularly on keto. But when you do drink, you can limit the damage by giving preference to the lowest-calorie and lowest-sugar beverages available. Below are some examples.
This stuff is your best booze bet. Whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, brandy, and tequila have 0 grams of carbs and 95–105 calories per shot.
Dry white wine
Dry sparkling wines contain 1.3–3 grams carbs and 96–150 calories per five-ounce glass. Other dry whites also fare well, with Brut Cava (2.5 g carbs and 128 calories) and Champagne (2.8 g carbs and 147 calories) rounding out the podium, and Pinot Blanc not far behind (2.85 g carbs and 119 calories).
Dry red wine
Pinot noir, Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah (Shiraz) have 3.4–3.8 grams of carbs per glass and around 120 calories.
The numbers indicate the number of carbs in each bottle
Light (low-carb) and dark beer
While beer is one of the more carb-drenched booze choices out there, the lightest of the lightweight beers aren’t overly dangerous to a keto dieter. Budweiser Select 55™ contains under 2g carbs and 55 calories per 12 oz, and Miller 64™ has 2.4g carbs and 64 calories. Stouts and porters are higher in calories than most other beer options, but they also offer more health-boosting properties, so we don’t think you should exclude them on the weight of the numbers you see on their nutrition labels alone. Guinness Draught™ has 125 calories and 9.4g of carbs (of which only 0.8 grams are sugar), but also boasts high levels of flavonoids, which can help combat inflammation, lower oxidative stress, and reduce the oxygenation of cholesterol.
What Drinks Should You Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet?
The following drinks are known for packing a sugary punch. Indulge in them and you’ll swiftly kiss your ketogenic diet goodbye.
Any alcohol served with a soda, syrup, or fruit mixer
Sodas cram up to 50 grams of carbs in every 12 ounces. Cocktails made with syrups or artificial fruit can pack 20 grams per serving.
Some IPAs contain over 20 grams of carbs and more than 250 calories, and fruity beers can have more than 30 grams carbs and 300-plus calories.
Southern Comfort™ isn’t too bad with just 4.8 grams of carbs and 98 calories per serving. But Jägermeister™ (17g carbs and 154 calories), Kahlua™ (22g carbs, 137 calories), and amaretto (26g carbs, 165 calories) belong in the Hall of Shame.
The amount of tequila’s not the issue. The 100–175 calories and 30 grams of keto diet-busting carbs in the mix are.
These pack a hefty 15–30 grams carbs and have between 200 and 250 calories.
Moscato™, port, and sherry contain up to 18 grams carbs and 75–100 calories per 3 ounces.
The alcohols that can be considered “keto alcohols” are any clear liquors that are around 40% alcohol.
Here’s a list:
If you’re new to practicing a keto diet, or you haven’t reached ketosis yet, consider taking a break from alcohol to help you get there. If you decide to imbibe, take it easy. Your alcohol tolerance will be much lower once you’re in ketosis.
For seasoned keto veterans — you should have no trouble enjoying your favorite adult beverages, provided your account for the carbs in your daily macro budget.
When on a keto diet, most people need significantly less alcohol to get intoxicated. So be careful the first time you drink alcohol on keto. You may only need half as many drinks as usual to enjoy yourself. Keto will save you money at the bar.
The reasons for this common experience are not fully known. Possibly the liver is busy producing ketones or glucose, and thus has less capacity to burn alcohol.
That’s great if you are looking for alcohol’s intoxicating impact — less will get you more and save you money in the bargain. But the hangover may be worse
But be very careful for anything in which impairment can increase the risk of accidents or injury.
In short, drink moderately and stop if weight loss stalls. Be careful how alcohol triggers your own cravings for overconsumption. Watch out for lower tolerance and other harmful effects of mixing alcohol with keto (especially if you have fatty liver disease), and potentially note the positive impact on cravings on keto. Finally, of course, never drink and drive.
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