Low-carb alcohol – the best and the worst drinks

What alcoholic drinks are low carb? What are the best options on a low-carb diet, and some common mistakes? This guide will tell you what you need to know.

First of all: consuming too much alcohol will slow down your weight loss, and may undermine your health gains on a low-carb diet. Alcohol is burned before anything else by the body, slowing down fat loss.

However, if you can drink alcohol in moderation it’s usually not a major issue as long as it’s low in carbs. Low-carb options include wine, champagne and pure spirits like whiskey and vodka. High-carb drinks? Beer and sugary cocktails.

Below you’ll find all the details, the options with fewer carbs are to the left.

How many carbs?

Low-Carb Wine and Beer

Each of the numbers is the grams of carbs in a typical glass. The lowest-carb option is a flute of champagne with 1 gram of carbs. Dry white and red wine have around 2 grams per serving (some are even lower). A typical beer has 13 grams!

Wine

If you are eating a moderate low carb diet, of about 20 to 50 carbs a day, dry wines can be enjoyed on a regular basis with little weight-loss impact from the carbs. If you are on a very strict low-carb or keto diet, consuming under 20 grams of carbs a day, a glass of wine on occasion is also fine. If, however, you find you are not losing weight, cut back on alcohol.

A glass of dry wine contains about 0.5 grams of sugar as well as small amounts of glycerol and other carbohydrate remains of the wine-making process, which usually amount to less than 2 grams of total carbs. It is unlikely that a glass of dry wine will impact blood sugar or insulin levels.

Sweeter wines, like Rieslings and Gewurztraminers, have about 4 carbs in a typical glass. Even sweeter dessert wines, like Muscato, Tokaj, Ice Wines, or fortified wines like Port, Sherry and Madeira, are all sweeter and contain more fructose, with carb counts per glass of around 5 grams or more.

Beer

Alas, most beer is a no-go when you’re eating low carb. Its hops and fermented grains are like drinking liquid bread — and the big beer bellies it can produce proof-positive that it contributes to abdominal obesity. Not a good choice for weight loss or diabetes reversal.

However, carb counts can vary depending on the brand of beer, and there are a few lower carb options. Find out in our low-carb beer guide below.

Spirits: how many carbs?

Low-Carb Spirits

If you drink hard liquor, this is how many grams of carbs are in a typical drink.

Whiskey, vodka, brandy, gin, tequila and other pure alcohols have zero carbs and so are fine on a low-carb diet. Don’t add juice, soft drinks, or other sweeteners like sweet cream. Adding tonic to zero carb gin boosts its carbs to 16 grams per serving! Have vodka, soda water and lime instead for a no-carb summer drink.

Alternatively, if you insist, use diet tonic (with artificial sweeteners) for a zero carb gin & tonic. Though we generally recommend to avoid sweeteners.1

Think vodka and orange juice is a healthy choice? That gives you a whopping 28 grams of carbs, almost as bad as a rum & coke for 39 grams.

Coolers

Low-carb wine coolers

The numbers are the amount of carbs (sugar) in a bottle.

Sometimes called alcopops, spirit coolers, wine coolers, hard lemonades, these pre-mixed, packages drinks are loaded with sugar and carbs. Do not drink if you want to stay low carb — you are drinking sugar.

Beer: how many carbs?

Low-Carb Beers

The numbers under the brands of beer represent the grams of carbs in a 12 oz. (355ml) bottle of beer.

As you can see, some very light American beers contain the least amount of carbs and can be drunk without derailing a low-carb diet, if you enjoy that type of beer. Other brands of beer rapidly rise in the amount of carbs and should be consumed with caution or avoided completely, depending on how many carbs you target per day.


 

Top 5 low-carb alcoholic drinks

Top 5 Alcoholic Drinks

On a low-carb diet, you can still enjoy a delicious drink or two on special occasions. Even though many alcoholic drinks contain a lot of sugar, there are still some decent low-carb options. Here’s our list of the top 5 low-carb alcoholic drinks.
 

  1. Champagne or dry sparkling wine – one glass contains about 1 grams of net carbs.
  2. Nothing says celebration like a glass of bubbly! Although Champagne can be very expensive other kinds of sparkling wines or Cava come in a variety of prices and can be enjoyed as an aperitif, with your food or as a stand-alone drink.

  3. Dry wine – red or white – one glass contains about 2 grams of net carbs.
  4. There must be a reason why humans have been drinking wine for thousands of years. One of them is probably that it tastes really good with food. Ben Franklin even called wine “constant proof that God loves us”. Fortunately, drinking an occasional glass of dry wine is fine on a low-carb diet.

  5. “Skinny Bitch” – one long drink contains 0 grams of carbs.
  6. Skinny bitch is the drink for you if you want to skip sugar and artificial sweeteners. This sparkling long drink with vodka, soda, lime and ice tastes way better than it might sound.

  7. Whiskey – one drink contains 0 grams of carbs.
  8. Even though whiskey is made from various forms of grains, it’s zero carb and gluten free. It comes in many different classes and types. Too much ice can kill the flavor but serving it with a little dash of water can actually enhance the flavor.

  9. Dry Martini – one cocktail contains 0 grams of carbs.
  10. The iconic James Bond cocktail is made with gin and vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. It’s still in the top of the most requested drinks. But make sure to order it shaken, not stirred.

 
Return to the top of the low-carb alcohol guide
 

 
 

Beware: Alcohol packs more punch on low carb

When on a strict low-carb diet, most people need significantly less alcohol to get intoxicated. So be careful the first time you drink alcohol on low carb. Possibly, you may only need half as many drinks as usual to enjoy yourself. Low carb will save you money at the bar.

The reasons for this common experience are still unclear. It could be because the liver is busy producing ketones or glucose, and thus has less capacity to spare for burning alcohol, slowing down the process.

If you’re going to be driving be extra careful. Don’t drink and drive. On low carb this may be even more crucial.

Learn more surprising facts about low-carb diets and alcohol here:

Alcohol and the keto diet: 7 things you need to know

Q&A

Do you have more questions about low carb and alcohol? A few common questions are answered below, for more see our full low-carb FAQ.

Does drinking alcohol slow down weight loss on low carb?

Yes. The alcohol is burned first in the liver, slowing fat burning somewhat. Alcohol thus slows down weight loss.

Furthermore, drinking alcohol can remove inhibitions, and this can result in eating things you were not planning to or needing to eat. If that happens it further slows weight loss.

For effective weight loss, consume alcohol in moderation (choosing lower-carb options) or not at all.

Can you get a worse hangover on low carb?

Yes. Most people find that their tolerance is reduced on low carb, and that they are more likely to get a hangover. To minimize it don’t overconsume alcohol, and make sure to drink enough water.

What are the best alcoholic drinks that are low in carbs?

The top low-carb drinks are wine (dry white or red), champagne and pure zero-carb spirits like whiskey, gin or vodka (avoid cocktails with sugar in them).

 
Full low-carb diet FAQ

 

 

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Get lots of weekly low-carb meal plans, complete with shopping lists and everything, with our premium meal planner tool (free trial).
 

 

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  1. This is because they maintain cravings for sweet foods, may stimulate overconsumption and may potentially have other negative health effects. Learn more

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141 comments

  1. Robert In Boulder
    In comment 89 Jan 2017, Andy tells us:
    "Lastly , alcohol metabolism affects your livers ability to regulate blood sugar and there is a reasonable chance that alcohol will give you the munchies which will cause you to then over eat."

    This sounds true. Observation bears it out. Can anyone provide a citation? The munchies from cannabis, well known to us in Colorado, don't have a similar mechanism, and Boulder is a pretty fit city (except for myself!). Can anyone provide a mechanism of why cannabis is munch-o-genic for some of us, and has no similar effect on others?

    Reply: #136
  2. Ed Fleming
    Vodker Pepper
    Diet dr thunder and vodka
  3. LE
    Diet sodas have been proven to have several negative health effects over the years. It's no secret there is a risk in consuming them due to increased risk of cancers and neurological disorders. HOWEVER- there are no carbs whatsoever in diet tonic, diet soda etc, whether sweetened with aspartame or saccharin.
  4. KH
    Diet soda is the big lie. Yes it has no carbs, no calories, etc. But the chemical crap they use to keep any flavor I would not give a lab rat.
  5. Adriane
    How about gin and soda with lemon , lime or cucumber?
  6. DGC Buxton Oregon
    What I have learned over the last fifteen years of predominantly low carb eating is that this is a marathon not a dash. I enjoy my Coors light every now and then and I also like gin and sugar free tonic with lime and sometimes just diet tonic.with a little bit of fruit juice ( I use light juices or 100 percent juice that I delute with carbonated water or diet tonic) there are some good health benefits in some juices,i.e. cherry juice for inflammation. I also have found that using my soda stream for carbonated drinks just agrees with me physically more than can or bottled sodas. Less chemicals maybe? The most important thing is moderation, try not to obsess about food. Good luck and health to you all, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
  7. Theresa
    @Gary and Rose Martin. Aspartame does NOT have carbs. You must have been drinking regular Tonic Water with your gin for it to have 85 grams of carbs! While many avoid diet beverages to be healthier and keep cravings for sweets at bay, a diet soda once in a while is ok if it helps you stay on a healthy eating plan. Hopefully, soon, you'll find you no longer want that sweet taste in your mouth.
  8. Kay
    I wanted to offer a wine shopping tip. In LCBO (Ontario, Canada liquor stores), the price label on the shelf lists the number of grams of sugar per litre of wine. There are 8 4 oz glasses in a litre of wine, so I divide this number by 8 to get the number of grams of sugar per glass of wine. I buy wines with 8 g of sugar or less per litre.
    Reply: #110
  9. Miko
    How can martinis be zero carb? Vermouth has 3.5 grams of carbs per 1fl...ounce
    Replies: #118, #121, #140
  10. Miko
    Kay can you recommend a red wine? I buy Benjamin Brunelle red. It's 1.7 grams of carbs. Very dry. I buy it at SAQ (Quebec). But I can go to LCBO in Ottawa next door...
  11. Jim
    Gin Rickey: a measure of gin, an ounce of lime juice (a couple grams of carbo), fill with seltzer, and enjoy on ice. A classic that can be made with any distilled spirits, but Ransom's (Oregon) Old Tom Gin is my poison for the Rickey. Be careful. Alcohol can lower your "will-power" as far as nibbling on insulin-stimulating snacks.
  12. Roberta
    what about Water and Lemon Gin with fresh lemon slices?
  13. Marc
    You wouldn't happen to be the Randal Schwartz of perl programming fame by chance?
  14. Doug.McFarlane
    I second L Mcnutt's suggestion of drinking Zevia. It's even available in some grocery stores in Canada now. Zero sugar, zero artificial (chemical) sweeteners. Just natural stevia. Comes in a variety of flavours. Tastes better than aspartame in my opinion.
  15. geraldine denise kuss
    Gin doesn't have any carbs. So if you drink it with Zero sugar tonic or soda you have a LOW CARB drink.
  16. sandra
    Hi
    I like to have a pure blonde beer with my dinner, doesn't make me snack as I am having it with a meal, from memory 1.7g carbs.
  17. Khürt L. Williams
    I guess low-carb will never be my thing. I like American craft ale. Asking someone who likes craft ale to drink light American ales is like asking a vegetarian to eat meat.
    Reply: #125
  18. Flo
    They said dry martini which means little or no vermouth.
  19. Chrissy
    Martinis they include vermouth are not zero carb, nor are martinis with fruit juices. I think they are speaking about vodka or gin straight up, or even dirty with a little olive juice. Now that's low carb
  20. Jen
    Anyone have an actual brand of champagne or sparkling wine that they've found that clocks in around 1-2 carbs per 4-5 oz serving? Every single one I can find nutrition information on is 4 carbs for 4-5 oz, and that IS for the lowest carb brut and dry versions. I even looked in the book The Low Carb Bartender and there are none. I don't think 1-2 carb champagne/sparkling wine exists.
  21. Krysty
    Bartender here - in a martini, vermouth is used in miniscule amounts, only a drop or two to lend flavor. Some bartenders actually only swirl it in the glass and pour it out before straining in the martini. So the carbs in vermouth are negligible.
  22. 1 comment removed
  23. Sam Watkins
    "Pure spirits like whiskey, brandy, cognac, vodka, tequila contain zero carbs and they are all fine on low carb" This is some ignorant bovine excrement right here, alcohol itself has nearly twice as many calories as the same weight of sugar. You might as well say that you can eat as much fat as you like on a low carb diet.
    "Four substances provide calories the human body can use for energy: fat, protein, carbohydrates and alcohol. Proteins and carbs (and sugars) have four calories per gram, one gram of fat has nine calories, and one gram of alcohol provides seven calories."

    So if you drink 100ml (4 small shots) of 50% a/v vodka, you're consuming the equivalent of 7/4 * 50ml = 87.5g of sugar, like a substantial block of chocolate.

    Google tells me that 100g beer has 43 calories, while 42g of 40% a/v vodka has 97 calories, basically vodka has more than 5 times as many calories. Depends how much you drink, but yeah, not necessarily suitable for your weight-loss diet.

    Reply: #124
  24. DTW
    Sam, from a calorie standpoint you are correct, but from a carbohydrate aspect you are not understanding the "low carb" concept. Vodka and other spirits do not raise your glycemic index and allow your body to keep burning fat as it's energy source.

    In low carb, you do not concern yourself with calories

    That being said, I doubt anyone would recommend tons of alcohol on any diet as the liver is already working OT on a low carb diet.

  25. DTW
    I'm with you, so I switched to whiskey and Rum.
  26. P mac
    Most champagne has a significant amount of sugar added. Clicquot has about 12-15g/l of residual sugar added to help balance the very high acidity if barely ripe grapes. Brut natural or zero dosage champagnes have no sugar added. Otherwise, champagne has more sugar than many red and white wines
  27. Alison
    I'm International airline pilot who cross multiple time zones. And suggestion for midnight snacks, and timing my meals.
    Reply: #128
  28. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Alison!

    Hopefully you can find something here.

    https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/recipes/snacks

    I'm International airline pilot who cross multiple time zones. And suggestion for midnight snacks, and timing my meals.

  29. Abe
    Actually, if you mix Captain Morgan with Coca Cola Zero, you get 0 carbs in that drink. Oh yea, I love rum and coke.
  30. 1 comment removed
  31. David
    Calories come in three forms; fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Alcohol, (aka ethanol), has 6.9 kcal per gram, (right behind pure fat). As it's clear that alcohol has zero fat, and zero protein content, it would seem clear that alcohol is a carbohydrate. Put more simply; "What are alcohol's calories derived from, if not carbohydrate?"

    The concept that "alcohol is a not a carbohydrate", is only supportable if the most pedantic wishy-washy chemical definitions of what constitutes a carbohydrate are used, (i.e. 'well there's a hydroxyl group attached to one of the carbon atoms, so ethanol is not exactly all the way hydrated, so it sorta doesn't count as a carbohydrate....kinda").

    Don't believe the lie the makers of "low-carb vodka" would have you believe. Alcohol = carbohydrate.

    From an MD

  32. Mitch
    Sounds like you could use a drink, David. Salute, Doctor.
  33. Dawn
    Is it true that Captain Morgan & Coke Zero is 0 Carbs?? I drink Budweiser (which I'm going to have to give up) but I also drink Captain Morgan & Coke (full fat) so if the Coke Zero will make the drink be 0 carbs then I can change that :D Please someone let me know
  34. Mark W
    If certain alcohol such as tequila and vodka contain zero carbs then where do the calories come from? They have zero protein, zero carbohydrates, and zero fats. It is my understanding, which apparently is wrong, that calories come from one of these three categories. I’m confused.

    Also, my wife and I have been on the Keto diet almost three weeks now and really like it.

    Reply: #138
  35. douglas grant
    try sleemans 2.0 carb per can and it is really good beer
  36. Audrey
    The "munchies" are caused from using Indica (fat leaves)--heavy CBD chemicals. Folks purchase this for pain, lack of appetite, body high, etc.
    Sativas (thin leaves) are THC, which does not create munchies, unless you dry it too fast, or in light--creates the cbd chemical. It has to be dried correctly to keep this from happening.
  37. 1 comment removed
  38. Martin
    What about home made cider? It's an alcoholic beverage made from apples (for those outside of Europe). The main sugars are fermented out, it's probably a bit like white wine thinking about it....
  39. Marsha
    Most dry martinis just have a drop or two of vermouth. Gin is 0 carbs.
  40. Jojoapi
    Hi, I just bought a Nespresso Machine which makes nice lattes... I tried once (this is my third coffee) with the almond and coconut milk.. ain't the same and don't like the taste. I'm a bit disappointed, my only coffee of the day. Any suggestions to replace the 2% milk that I'm wisking
  41. Blue
    Consider adding Sleeman Clear to the Beer list. It has 2.0gr of carbs! 😉
  42. Aaron
    Above the article talks about how whiskey is carb free and gluten free. How is whiskey gluten free when most of it is distilled from either rye (gluten), wheat (gluten) and barley (gluten)? Further how is whiskey carb free when it's made from grains like wheat?
  43. Poppy Vlassi
    What about ouzo and carb?
  44. Anastasia Beaverhousen
    There is NO red wine out there that is 2 carbs per 5oz serving. WRONG!
  45. 1 comment removed
  46. David Harper
    gluten is eliminated in the distillation process of vodka, for instance. There is no gluten molecule present after vodka has been distilled. Only two molecules; h2o and pure alcohol remain.
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