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Alcohol & The Keto Diet

Louise Hendon | January 15

The keto diet can make having a social life difficult, especially when it comes to going out to eat and drink with friends. 

But, is it even possible to consume alcohol on a keto diet? Are there keto-friendly alcoholic drinks? And what about mixed drinks on keto?

Since most alcoholic drinks (like beer and cocktails) contain a lot of carbs and calories, it's best to avoid them on any diet, but especially on keto, where the aim is to eat less than 20g carbs per day. But don’t despair as there are some options available, which I’ll list out below. 

Another thing to take into consideration before you start drinking alcohol on Keto is the way alcohol affects the liver’s metabolism, and especially when it comes to a keto diet, as the liver is depleted of glycogen. The low glycogen level means the liver will start metabolizing the alcohol quickly, which might lead to a heightened level of drunkenness and a worse hangover.

Bottom line is that yes, you can drink alcoholic beverages and still stay on a keto diet but you need to choose your drinks carefully and make sure you drink in moderation.

What alcoholic drinks are keto friendly?

Spirits

You might be surprised by the number of drinks that are low-carb and keto-friendly. The largest segment is, of course, the spirits.  These contain pretty much zero carbs and can be consumed either straight (“neat”), on the rocks, or in combination with a low-carb mixer.

Here are some good low-carb spirit options:

  • Whiskey
  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Tequila
  • Vodka
  • Brandy

And pair those with these low-carb mixers:

  • Soda water, seltzer water, or club soda
  • La Croix
  • Zevia
  • Sugar-Free Root Beer (Virgil’s or Reed's)
  • Unsweetened iced tea
  • Dash of Lime or Lemon Juice
  • Sugar-free tonic water

Dry Wines

When it comes to wine, things are a bit more complicated. Many people enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner, but on keto, it’s best to avoid sweet, fruity wines. By choosing a dry wine, either white or red, you’ll ensure that the sugar content is minimal, and the carbs will be at around 3-4g of carbs per 5oz. Serving.  If you’re not sure about the sugar content of your wines, then stick to wines made by companies like Dry Farm Wines as they especially make dry wines that contain very low levels of sugar.

Low-Carb Beers

Beer is another popular drink but unfortunately it does contain high levels of rapidly digestible carbs and since most beers also contain gluten, this is an alcohol option we don’t recommend. 

However, if you do want to enjoy a beer, then choose one that’s designed to be lower in carbs.  Many popular brands have released low carb beers like:

  • Budweiser Select 55 (1.8 grams of carbs per serving)
  • Miller 64 (2 grams of carbs per serving)
  • Michelob Ultra (2.6 grams of carbs per serving)
  • Corona Premier (2.6 grams of carbs per serving) 

What mixed drinks are keto friendly?

But what about cocktails? Are there any keto-friendly mixed drinks available at the bar?

Unfortunately, most mixed drinks are not recommended in the keto diet, as they usually are made with a variety of syrups, fruit juices, and cocktail mixes.

When it comes to ordering a mixed drink on keto, stick with simple combinations like rum and diet coke, gin and sugar-free tonic, vodka and club soda, or any other mix of a spirit and a zero-sugar drink. Avoid all blends involving fruit juices, as they are full of fructose and will take you out of ketosis.

However, if you’re making cocktails at home, then you can try experimenting with creating your own flavors using flavored sparkling waters, stevia or erythritol, and fruit essences.

And what about wine coolers or other alcopops & soft drinks?

Unfortunately, wine coolers, alcopops, and most soft drinks are filled with sugar, and you should avoid them. The carb content in these drinks is incredibly high, often at around 25-30g of carbs per bottle or can, which will quickly spike your insulin levels and take you out of ketosis.

There are plenty of keto-friendly low-carb options out there, but alcohol is a non-essential macronutrient, full of empty calories, so there is no need for it to become a regular part of a diet. Plus, it can affect weight loss progress, and overconsumption of alcohol can increase the risk of developing nutritional deficiencies. 

Excessive drinking also contributes to other serious medical issues, like diabetes and liver disease. As with everything, a moderate approach to consuming alcohol is best in order to avoid any of its adverse health and diet effects.

Louise Hendon

Louise holds a Bachelors and Masters in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University (UK). She attended Columbia University for her JD and practiced law before co-founding Louise's Foods, Paleo Living Magazine, Nourishing Brands, & CoBionic. Louise has considerable research experience but enjoys creating products and articles that help move people just a little bit closer toward a healthy life they love.