Is the occasional glass of wine or light beer enough to undo your hard work, kick you out of ketosis, and wreak havoc on your keto lifestyle? The answer might surprise you. When it comes to alcohol and dieting, there is a lot to consider.
Here is everything you need to know about what your weekday happy hour is doing to your keto macros along with the best and worst keto drinks to indulge with.
- Can You Drink Alcohol On Keto?
- Will Drinking Kick You Out of Ketosis?
- Worst Alcoholic Drinks for Keto
- Best Keto Friendly Alcoholic Beverages
- RD Opinion: Should You Drink Alcohol on Keto?
- The Easiest Way to Stick to Your Keto Diet
- Full Keto Food and Drink List
Keto Alcohol Cheat Sheet
Can You Drink Alcohol On Keto?
Yes, you can drink on a ketogenic diet and still see results, but there’s a catch. It depends on how much you drink and the types of alcohol you choose.
Alcohol is technically the fourth macronutrient because it provides calories. In fact, alcohol contains nearly double the number of calories of protein and carbs - providing roughly seven calories for each gram consumed.
This matters because calories still matter on keto. Especially if you are trying to lose weight on keto. And because alcohol can pack a lot of calories on a single beverage, it can be easy to overdo it and slow your weight loss, or worse cause unintentional weight gain. Plus, unlike other macronutrients that provide various health and nutritional benefits, alcohol provides little to no nutritional value.
Alcohol is also a toxin that is thought to mess with your normal metabolism (1). Some theories suggest that heavy drinking might interfere with digestion, absorption, and the body's ability to use certain nutrients. This may include the prioritization of breaking down and removing alcohol metabolites before anything else - including carbohydrates, fat, and protein from food (2,3,4,5).
Lastly, getting drunk on alcohol can lead to poor decision-making, including when it comes to your diet. After a few too many, you may not care how many carbs are in your food or how many calories you should be eating.
Unsure of your keto macros? Learn your macros in just a few minutes, using this keto macro calculator:
Will Drinking Kick You Out of Ketosis?
Getting into ketosis and staying there is primarily driven by following a very low-carb diet. So as long as you don’t go over your recommended daily net carb intake, the occasional drink likely won’t cause concern.
Additionally, alcohol itself doesn’t undo your body’s ability to produce ketones. In fact, the opposite may be true. Alcohol consumption has been associated with a decrease in blood sugar and an increase in ketone production in a few different studies (1,6,7).
However, this absolutely does not mean you should drink a lot on keto to increase ketone levels.
Excessive alcohol consumption can not only lead to serious health concerns but can also be deadly for diabetics because of its role in increased ketone production, leading to alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA).
It is also thought that being in ketosis can decrease alcohol tolerance. However, there is not much research to support this theory.
For this and many other reasons, sound medical advice suggests that if you do choose to drink, only do so in moderation and keep your intake below one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men (8).
Bottom line, you are better off avoiding alcohol altogether.
If you do choose to drink occasionally, here are the best and worst types of alcohol for keto.
Worst Alcoholic Drinks for Keto List
High carb alcoholic drinks are the worst fit for your keto diet. These include mixed drinks made with fruit juices and sugary beverages, as well as certain beers, wine, and wine coolers.
Here are some of the worst offenders.
While a lot of spirits are known for their low carb, diet-friendly appeal, liqueurs can really pack in the sugar and carb counts in a small portion - just 1.5 fl ounces (45 ml) can have as much as 15g of carbohydrates!
Liqueurs are made from spirits with fruits, herbs, and syrup added to provide additional flavor and sweetness. Some are also flavored with cream to provide a smooth, rich, dessert-like flavor.
Typically the sweeter and creamier tasting the liqueurs are, the more sugar and calories they contain.
Here is your go-to list for some of the worst high-carb offenders:
- Aperol - 103 calories and 15 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Bailey’s - 107 calories and 11 grams of carbs per shot (1 fl oz)
- Coconut Rum - 75 calories and 8 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Flavored Liqueurs - 130 calories and 10 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Fireball - 106 calories and 11 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Kaluha - 107 calories and 11 grams of carbs per shot (1 fl oz)
- Ouzo - 155 calories and 15 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
It's no surprise that alcoholic drinks made from high carb/high sugar ingredients like grapes can potentially rack up your carb counts, but not all wine varietals are created equal. In fact, many types of wine are actually fairly low carb and can fit into a keto diet in moderation.
Some very dry wine has zero sugar in it, where sweeter wines can have over 20% of their calories from sugar or more. It all depends on how the grapes are processed.
During the winemaking, process yeast eats up the sugar to produce alcohol (ethanol). If the yeast is able to consume all of the sugar it results in a very dry wine with higher alcohol content. But when this process is stopped sooner, sugar remains and you're left with a sweeter, lower-alcohol wine - like dessert wines!
Here's your list of the top wines to avoid on keto:
- Dessert Wine - 164 calories and 14 grams of carbs per drink (5 fl oz)
- Port Wine - 70 calories and 10 grams of carbs per drink (5 fl oz)
- Sangria - 175 calories and 15 grams of carbs per drink (6 fl oz)
Full Bodied Beer and Cider
Beer can also be very carb-heavy depending on the type you choose. Beer is made by fermenting carb-containing grains like barley and wheat. And many beer varieties contain added sugar.
Similar to wine, the final carb count for the beer is dependent on the fermentation process and how much sugar the yeast is allowed to turn into alcohol. Thus, higher alcohol content typically means higher carb when it comes to your beer selection.
Some of the top styles of beer that tend to be high carb include:
- Ale Beer - 195 calories and 9 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Craft Beer - 195 calories and 9 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Hard Cider - 198 calories and 21 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- IPA Beer - 195 calories and 9 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Lager Beer - 153 calories and 14 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Wheat Beer - 164 calories and 11 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
One of the most obvious types of alcohol to avoid while on a keto diet is mixed drinks. They are almost always made with sugary juices and mixers that add a ton of calories and carbohydrates - with some mixed drinks having as many calories as a full meal.
Carb count aside, high calorie mixed drinks are a not so great choice for any dieter.
Here are some of the least keto-friendly mixed drink options:
- Cranberry and Vodka - 131 calories and 17 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Daiquiri - 244 calories and 30 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Gin and Tonic - 207 calories and 16 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Margarita - 225 calories and 22 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Pina Colada - 655 calories and 87 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Long Island Ice Tea - 415 calories and 50 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Rum Punch - 231 calories and 25 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Rum and Regular Coke - 178 calories and 12 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Wine Cooler - 227 calories and 34 grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
Best Keto Friendly Alcoholic Beverages list
The best keto alcohol drinks contain zero carbohydrates or only small amounts and provide few calories overall. But because alcohol doesn't have a nutrition label, it can be challenging to identify which types of alcohol fit into your ketogenic lifestyle.
This is where tracking you food and drink intake - including alcohol - in a nutrition tracking app can help! Most food and drink databases will tell you the exact carb count for your drinks and allow you to stay on top of your carb intake more easily.
For simplicity's sake, you can rest assure that most plain liquors, dry wine, and light beer are low carb and can fit into your keto meal plan - in moderation of course!
Keto Liquors List
Hard spirits are the most ketogenic-friendly alcohol options because they essentially contain zero carbohydrates. Remember it’s not so much the alcohol but the mixers that rack up the calories and carb content.
However, these are also a potent sources of alcohol and it can be easy to drink too much too quickly.
To keep the carb count and calories low sip on alcohol straight in a martini or on the rocks, or mix these options with calorie and sugar-free beverages like soda water, fresh citrus, diet soda, etc.
- Bourbon - 105 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Brandy - 97 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Gin - 97 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Rum (light, dark, and spiced) - 97 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Mezcal - 97 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Tequila - 97 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Vodka - 97 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
- Scotch Whiskey - 105 calories and 0 grams of carbs per shot (1.5 fl oz)
Keto Wine and Beer
As mentioned above, dry wine and light beer are fairly low in carb counts and can be included as a part of your keto meal plan - as long as you don't overdo it. A single glass provides roughly 4g of carbohydrates. Meaning you can easily be over your carb limit in just a few glasses.
Besides that, a few glasses can equal the same amount of calories in a small meal, which also won't help your diet goals.
The lowest carb wine and beer alcohol options include:
- Champagne - 120 calories and 4 grams of carbs per drink (6 fl oz)
- Dry Red Wine - 120 calories and 4 grams of carbs per drink (5 fl oz)
- Dry White Wine - 120 calories and 4 grams of carbs per drink (5 fl oz)
- Hard Seltzer - 100 calories and 1 gram of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
- Light beer - 100 calories and 3+ grams of carbs per drink (12 fl oz)
Should You Drink Alcohol on Keto?
Unfortunately how alcohol impacts nutrient metabolism is not well researched on any diet, not even keto. We do know that it can contribute to excess empty calories, poor decision-making, and increased health risks if we aren’t careful. Keeping your drinking to a reasonable amount or foregoing it all together is likely your best bet.
But like most "cheats", drinking the occasional glass of keto-approved alcohol is nothing to feel bad about. After all, healthy lifestyles are all about balance and moderation. Of course, this also means the bulk of your keto food choices and behaviors need to emphasize good health first. Otherwise, you're just adding less healthy options to an already not-so-healthy diet.
If you do decide to include alcohol on keto, stick to low carb and low-calorie beverages and skip the sugary mixers!
What Else Can You Enjoy On a Keto Diet?
While you’re here, download this free comprehensive keto food list pdf. Here is your full comprehensive guide to eating keto to help you hit the grocery store with a plan.
It's your ultimate guide to hundreds of keto-approved food options, complete with total net carbs for every food.
The Easiest Way to Stick to Your Keto Diet
Cocktails and alcohol aside, the hardest part about going and staying keto is sticking to your diet goals each week. If you're tired of carb counting, meal planning, cooking, and cleaning, why not leave it to the experts?
Our team of nutrition-trained chefs will hand prepare delicious keto-approved meal plans and ship them directly to your door each week! So you can sit back, see results faster, and contemplate whether or not that happy hour buzz is really worth it.