The Ketogenic diet is a very low carb, moderate protein diet, with the majority of calories coming from fat. You might be on a low carb diet in order to lose weight or help regulate your blood sugar, both of which low carb diets promote. A typical Keto meal would include non-starchy vegetables, protein, and a majority of calories from fat; our dietitians recommend unsaturated fat sources like olive oil, as they are healthier for your heart.

Your carb count is very important on a Keto diet because it is so strict, so fiber is also important on a Keto diet, as it helps to lower your net carbs, or total amount of carbs that you are eating in the day.  

Eating low carb has become really popular, and it’s easy to spot the grams of carbs on most foods; labels have been adjusted to make it more noticeable.

What alcohol can I drink on a Keto diet?

If you follow a low carb or Keto diet, you might wonder if you can drink alcohol while following the diet. The short answer is yes, but with some limitations.

Your liver recognizes alcohol as a toxin, so when you drink alcoholic drinks, it will stop producing beneficial ketones and focus all its energy on metabolizing the alcohol. Depending on how much you drink, it could slow or even halt ketosis.

Most keto diets let you have a very low amount of carbs per day. Your net carbs on a Ketogenic diet meal plan should usually be no more than 5% of your total daily calories. On a 2000 calorie Keto diet, this would look like 25 grams of carbohydrates (100 calories, 5% daily calories), 100 grams protein (400 calories, 20% daily calories), and 166 grams of fat (1500 calories, 75% daily calories).

If you drink alcohol mixed with sugary beverages (think whiskey and coke), the sugar in the cola will stop your body from producing ketones. Per 12 oz serving, cola contains 39 grams of sugar. On a Keto diet, you might be allowed to consume anywhere from 15-40 grams of carbohydrates per day. So, this means that one drink could meet or exceed your entire day’s carbohydrates.  

Other alcohol that you could drink on the Keto diet would be spiked seltzers, dry wine, light beer, or sugar free wine coolers. You can get a lot of these at any grocery stores or liquor or wine stores. Many of the popular drink companies have started making lower sugar alcoholic drinks. For instance, Smirnoff makes a sugar free wine cooker. Spiked seltzers (spiked soda waters) are being manufactured by major beer companies like Budweiser and Corona, along with plenty of smaller, specialty companies. They are usually free of added sugar or only contain one or two grams per serving. You could also make your own recipe for keto friendly alcoholic beverages by adding vodka to diet soda with a splash of sugar free syrup, of which there are many on the market.

Most wine is naturally lower in sugar, so a glass of dry wine, like Pinot Grigio or Cabernet Sauvignon would not be out of the question.

Other lower carb drinks include light beer, which contain about 2.5 grams of carbs per 12 oz beer. Many beer manufacturers know that people are looking for low carb options, so there are more light beer choices that taste great and are free of added sugar. You can get many low carb beers at most stores.

Keep reading for a quick and dirty list of sugar content in alcohol, from least to most.

Which alcohol has the least amount of sugar?

Here is a quick and easy breakdown of the amount of sugar in alcohol, including beer and wine, thanks to research done at the University of Michigan;

  • Gin, Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Whiskey- 0 grams of sugar. This does not mean that they are zero calorie, though. Be mindful that when you are drinking, you are still consuming calories. For example, a shot of run (1.5 ounces) can have anywhere from 40-150 calories depending on the brand.
  • Light beer- < 1 gram of sugar. Be mindful that just because a beer does not have added sugar does not mean that it is zero calories. However, a light beer is usually lower in calories than a dark beer, so it may be allowed on a Ketogenic diet in moderation.
  • Very dry-dry wines- < 10 grams per bottle. Wine contains small amounts of residual sugar, which has been left behind by the yeast during fermentation. Dry white wine and dry red wine contains less sugar than sweet wines, meaning they would be a better choice to drink on the Keto diet! Red wine also has the benefits of tannins, which are big in the nutrition world for their ability to promote heart and brain health.
  • Medium-sweet wines- < 20 grams per bottle. The sugar content per serving varies a lot, depending on the wine, but know that these may contain 5 grams of sugar per glass of wine.
  • Very sweet wines (dessert wines)- >30 grams per bottle. Dessert wines are usually packaged in smaller bottles, so a glass of dessert wine may contain 10 grams of sugar or more. If you want to drink this type of wine, a half glass might be OK, but be mindful that you might find yourself producing less ketones the next day.

Does alcohol affect ketosis?

The short answer is yes, alcohol does affect it because people who drink alcohol may indirectly consume excessive amounts of sugar and grams of carbs. Depending on the alcohol they consume, or if they are mixing it with beverages that contain sugar then carbohydrates can quickly add up!

The carbs per drink can vary drastically, especially if you use a sugary soda or juice, or add a sugary syrup. For example, a pineapple upside down shot contains vodka, pineapple juice, and grenadine, a pomegranate syrup. Grenadine contains 10 grams of carbs per tablespoon, which all com from sugar. This means that one or two shots would be more grams of carbs than you are allowed in the entire day on a Keto diet.

Alcohol is metabolized differently than food. A small amount is absorbed in your mouth. The remainder is absorbed through your stomach lining and small intestine. It is broken down by the liver, and is actually metabolized into ketones. However, because it is a toxin, the ketones produced by alcohol are not beneficial and should not be consumed as a source of ketones.

When your body is working to eliminate alcohol, it will ignore any food that you have in your stomach. This means that if you are eating and drinking at the same time, you might find that your levels of ketones are reduced, as your body will process the alcohol before the food.

The Ketogenic diet is very low in sugar and carbohydrates, and has actually been studied for its benefits related to alcohol withdrawal. So, if you struggle with alcohol dependence, the Ketogenic diet may be a great way to help you through a detox; of course, this must be coupled with medical attention, so do seek help accordingly.

What alcohol is commonly drunk with the keto diet?

If you want to have a drink on the Keto diet, vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, or tequila are your best bets, as they all contain no added sugar. However, they do contain calories. They all contain an average of 100 calories per shot, or 1.5 ounces. Technically, these are all considered Keto alcohol, and having a few mixed drinks made with these combined with mixers that contain zero carbs are an easy way for you to stick to your Keto diet.

Vodka seems to be the most popular alcohol to drink on a Keto diet. You can mix it with plain sparkling water (soda water or club soda), tonic water, diet soda, or a sugar free flavored sparkling water like La Croix. There are few, if any, calories in soda water or sparkling water, so these can all help to control your carb intake while still allowing you to have a few drinks. A squeeze of one lime or lemon will not add too much sugar, so feel free to add one to your drink for a refreshing accent.

If you are on keto to loose weight do remember that you are usually trying to limit calories. It takes about 500 calories per day either through exercise or cutting back on what you eat to lose a pound a week. Drinking can quickly lead to overconsumption of calories, specifically calories from sugar, which can quickly stop ketosis. Excess sugar can be stored as fat, and can lead to lots of health problems.

To sum up the best alcohol to drink on a diet would be one that is low in calories, carbohydrates, and sugar. For example, a low carb beer has only 2.5 grams of carbs per 12 oz beer and around 130 calories; if you are limiting your caloric intake but have a little extra room, you can safely have a low carb beer and stay on your diet.

Is there a keto friendly alcohol high in Fat but low in carb?

The only alcohol that might contain fat would be one that also contained cream; common drinks that contain cream include White Russians (coffee liqueur, vodka, and heavy cream or half & half), Pina Coladas (pineapple juice, coconut rum, and coconut cream), or Grasshoppers (chocolate and mint liqueurs, and heavy cream or ice cream).

If you are a following a Ketogenic diet, the amount of fat you consume is likely not a concern. The bigger concern would be finding a suitable cocktail that is low carb or Keto friendly.

What are the worst drinks to drink on the Keto diet?

Some of the worst drinks to drink on the Keto diet would be mixed drinks made with fruit juice, regular soda, or drinks sweetened with sugar as all will kick you out of ketosis. Other high carb mixed drinks like daiquiris, frozen sweetened drinks, boozy milkshakes, and dessert drinks (like chocolate martinis) contain a lot of sugar and carbs. One drink could kick you out of ketosis, containing more than 30 grams of sugar per drink.

Like we previously discussed, sweet shots or mixed drinks can contain a LOTs of sugar. The worst drinks are likely those that sweet on the tongue such as tequila sunrise or Sex on the Beach. These contain multiple juices and sweetened syrups, which can quickly exceed 30 grams of carbs per drink! These drinks would not be allowed on the Keto diet, and drinking them would not help with weight loss or blood sugar control.

Final Thoughts

If you are on a Keto meal plan, you can drink alcohol as there are some choices but remember that moderation is key.

Do remember that drinking alcohol does reduce the amount of ketones that you produce, and can slow or even stop ketosis if you drink something that has a lot of carbs per serving. Additionally, if you are on the Keto diet for weight loss, drinking sugary cocktails can quickly exceed your daily net carb allotment.

That said, a glass of wine, a low carb beer, or a vodka-soda would all be options if you are on the Keto diet. They can likely satisfy your craving for a cocktail while keeping you on track.