By now you’ve hopefully tried enough recipes to know that the ketogenic lifestyle is full of delicious, decadent, and downright amazing food! But what about libations? Now that you’re settling into the diet, it’s time to get more alcohol savvy, especially if you’re treating this journey as a new, healthier, long-term lifestyle.
Plainly put, alcohol is very much like sweets on the ketogenic diet; in moderation and within your macros, you should be able to enjoy it without negatively affecting your ketone levels or weight loss. If you choose to introduce alcohol to your keto diet, go slow; the effects of alcohol may be more intense while on the keto diet and drinking lets your guard down and may inspire you to overeat. Most adults can consume one to three alcoholic beverages per week without hindering ketosis and/or weight loss.
But even then, “moderation” is relative. Depending on the alcohol and the mixer, drinks have varying levels of calories and carbs (sugars), and every body reacts to alcohol differently. Your best bet is to steer toward the keto-friendly alcohols listed below and remember to choose booze and mixers that won’t kick you out of ketosis. Then, if you want to truly know your limits for enjoying beer, wine, or spirits and staying in ketosis, you’ll need to consume the libation in question and test your ketones and glucose and see how they react. To do this, test your ketones and blood glucose before one glass of wine or spirits, then 30 minutes after, and again 3 hours after you drink the entire beverage to see if your glucose spikes or your ketones drop and don’t return to pre-beverage levels. If all goes well, try another day with two glasses of the same beverage and see where that gets you.
Most Keto-Friendly Hard Alcohols
The following non-flavored hard liquors are all 0 grams of carbs. But before you start mixing martinis with abandon, remember that 0 grams of carbs does not equal 0 calories! (A one-ounce serving of the spirits listed below is about 65 calories.) If you’re going to drink and want to stay on track, calculate your macros to account for your planned martini (or two); Ruled.Me shares cheat sheets on their website that give you a great idea of the macro breakdown of many of your favorite adult beverages so you aren’t stuck guessing. You can also find a recipe for Keto Simple Syrup and delicious cocktails at Keto-Mojo.com.
- Some brandies
We probably don’t need to tell you that the sweet and sour mix is off the menu. But there are mixers that support your new lifestyle as well as cocktail creativity! Try any of the following:
- Seltzer water
- Zevia (they make so many flavors, and they’re sweetened with stevia)
- Fresh lemon or lime juice (the juice of either has about 11 calories and 4g net carbs)
- Berries (keep an eye on the calories and carbs)
- Homemade Keto Simple Syrup (In a ramekin or other small bowl, combine 2 Tbsps granular Swerve or Lakanto 1:1 Sweetener and 2 tablespoons boiling water and stir until dissolved. Stir in 1 Tbsp lemon juice; get a delicious recipe that uses it here)
Words of Wine Wisdom
Who doesn’t love to relax over a nice glass of wine? It’s even more enjoyable when you can clink glasses knowing you’re going to stay in ketosis. While sweet wines (wines with a lot of added sugar–hello white zinfandel and dessert wines!) are high-carb due to their sugar content, wines with no added sugar have only 0 to 1 carb per glass! On average, you’ll throw back 2 to 4 grams of net carbs and 90 to 120 calories per 5-ounce pour.
Unfortunately, wine labels don’t include nutritional information, so it can be tricky to figure out which wines are lower in carbs, but there is one trick that helps: Look for lower alcohol wines under 13 percent alcohol; there are many and all wine labels are required to state the alcohol percentage! In general, the lower the alcohol, the lower the carbohydrates and sugar. In general, white wines tend to have lower alcohol content than red wines, but be careful with wines like rieslings and certain sparkling wines, as they can taste dry, but contain residual sugar.
Good Wine Choices
- Loire, France: sancerre, pouilly fumé (both sauvignon blanc), muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne)
- Burgundy, France: chablis, dry Champagne (brut, brut nature); dry riesling from Alsace, Australia, or Rheingau (Germany)
- Italy: pinot grigio, soave
- Austria/Germany: riesling (look for the terms Trocken/selections for the dryest styles; if testing shows you’re sensitive to carbs/sugars, this one may not be best for you)
- Spain: albarino
- Burgundy, France: pinot noir; beaujolais: gamay – cru Beaujolais
- Loire,France: chinon (cabernet franc)
- Italy: chianti (sangiovese), barolo (nebbiolo)
- California: Sonoma and North Coast pinot noir
- Provence, France
- Napa Valley, California (check alcohol levels)
Keto-Friendly Beer –Hard to Find But Not Impossible
There’s no such thing as a carb-free beer. Even low carb options will cost you 2 to 5 grams of net carbs per bottle so we recommend you limit the times you choose to crack a cold one while on a keto diet.