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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  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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142 comments

  1. owl
    Any thoughts on this? Do we have to distinguish between "good" and "bad" carbs?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3679157/Eat-carbs-WITHOUT-s...

  2. Carrie
    I would also like to know a list of best cider options please
  3. Geraldine Denise
    Me too, LOVE CIDAR!
    Reply: #93
  4. Steph
    Ok so I love Crown Royal and diet coke. Crown has no carbs and neither does diet coke but I don't see anything mentioned on using diet soda. Why not?
    Reply: #55
  5. Shantella
    Good question, I would just drink it straight with ice and lime to remove any confusion, I hear diet sodas are bad...I'M TOTALLY ADDICTED TO DIET DR PEPPER, no carbs or sugar, but aspartame. Not sure if that's good, I just started the LCHF and I'm totally dedicated to having one cheat meal a week, I look forward to it, as far as the alcohol, I drink champagne, or spirits without the chasers.
    Reply: #68
  6. Susan Hewitt
    What about rum and diet coke? Didn't see anything about rum. ..
    Reply: #69
  7. 1 comment removed
  8. Kim
    Well that explains why a glass or two of pino gringo gave me a buzz so quickly. I am strictly reducting carbs my diet.
  9. JTD
    Sorry guys but alcohol itself is the second highest caloried food group after saturated fat, gin whisky and all the others are a massive no no before you even take the sugar into account. Low carb diets suck. Try no animal products or alcohol and see how slim healthy and happy you are being disease free functioning like a traditional human being, diet sodas are the devil as are full sugared ones...... i might start a link to see which types of heroin are the best for my body
    Replies: #60, #100
  10. Tim
    JTD----

    Sorry guys but alcohol itself is the second highest caloried food group after saturated fat, gin whisky and all the others are a massive no no before you even take the sugar into account. Low carb diets suck. Try no animal products or alcohol and see how slim healthy and happy you are being disease free functioning like a traditional human being, diet sodas are the devil as are full sugared ones...... i might start a link to see which types of heroin are the best for my body
    </blockquote

    You go from 0 to 60 in no time flat. Please by all means JTD, try heroin and report back. I hear it's all the rage with vegan hipsters. Your man bun might fall out though...just a friendly warning.

  11. JTD
    Thanks Tim, ive decided to try the new heroin blend they call it H lite its only half the carbs of normal smack, combined with the weightloss attributes of the original product it offers pound for pound, the fastest rate of weightloss currently on the market.
  12. Trish
    Trish
    is diet tonic okay to drink I'm new to the diet but loving it .
    Reply: #70
  13. David
    Looking at starting this diet and maintenance planning stage. Looking at what alcohol a can drink and I'm thinking of trying the vodka, soda water and lime also using angostura bitters like a long vodka but am not sure when it says lime. Is this just a slice of lime or actual cordial?
  14. InParadise
    JTD: "Try no animal products or alcohol and see how slim healthy and happy you are being disease free functioning like a traditional human being, ..."

    I was vegan for two very long miserable years of intense carb cravings before I found the low carb approach 15 years ago. Irony is I now eat more vegetables than when vegan where the focus had to be on finding the right complete protein combo. Like being vegan, low carbing is not just a diet it is a way of life. I've never looked better or felt better. Your mileage may vary. There is no need for evangelists to proclaim there is only one way to do things. I am glad being vegan works for you but it was an endless circuit of cravings and an insane amount of exercise if I did not want to be huge. It is possible to be healthy on a vegan diet AND a low carb diet. People just need to find what works best for them.

    I almost let my bias about animal protein keep me from trying low carb, but the vegan misery was so strong that I had to try a new approach. I figured something that made me feel and look so good certainly had to be good for me, and fortunately this has been backed up by science in recent years. Going low glycemic and grain free has been HUGE in improving my health.

  15. gary
    on my Low carb my wife and I were drinking vodka tonics with diet tonic, no weight loss in 3 months, problem was the diet tonic has 85 gms of carbs via the aspartame, I'm just giving the booze up as it stops ketosis
    Replies: #103, #107
  16. Rose Martin
    Gary you've answered a question I've had for ages, I thought I wS safe having Gin and diet tonic water. Never knew aspartame had so much carbs, what a scam.thank you for clearing that up for me.
  17. Jordan
    Please add a comment on prosecco as these days it's a very popular, more affordable alternative to champagne, although tastes quite sweet so I am unsure. Thanks
  18. DrakeAris
    I'm not sure what is "bad" about diet soda. It's relative. If you want to get technical, all soda could be construed as bad, for different reasons. I drink plenty of diet soda. And Caffeine Free Coke Zero and whiskey is amazing. I lost 30 pounds this year so far and I look and feel fantastic. Whatever it is that is "bad" about diet soda, my weightless is not affected by it. If it's about cancer or some other scare, I'd question the scientific evidence, and if it's conclusive.
  19. DrakeAris
    Some rums have carbs, such as spiced. You really have to look online for the actual brand and type. But, a pure rum without the fancy "spiced" or "flavored" is less than .5 gram per shot. I like Rum and Coke Zero (Splenda) as it's a smooth drink. But I like the earthy flavor of whisky more.
  20. DrakeAris
    Tonic is carbonated sugar water with some minerals. However, there are sugar free tonics that use artificial sweeteners. You really have to read labels. You can't just grab a bottle off of tonic off the shelf. In contrast a true CLUB SODA is zero carb. It's just carbonated water. You could add some liquid sweeter to it to taste and it will feel like a tonic.
  21. modupe
    I would like to know if sparkling water is compliant.
  22. Ss
    Absinthe is allowed in low carb diet? If yes how suggest the quantity.
  23. Lloyd
    I you do a search on the ingredients in diet soda and the effect on the human body you wouldn't drink it. It's a chemical cocktail design to be addictive as it stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain, the acidic taste stimulates the system as well as the caffeine.

    Yes you can use no carb sodas and drink all you want but if you live beyond 60 you will notice your memory failing and nervous tremors as your nervous system is being eroded.

    I've done a lot of research on this and read from forums where people talked about the effects diets soda had on them. It took me years to totally get off them and I'm glad I did. But ultimately what you do to your body is up to you, just don't think that what you put in your body daily has no effect on your system, it does for better or worse.

  24. L Mcnutt
    There is a great sofa line called Zevia. It is sweetened with stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. It even has a tonic water in the line.
    Replies: #99, #114
  25. Lorrie
    What about clear rum with lime water and a twist of lime.. its carbonated.. ?
  26. Randal L. Schwartz
    As my personal "taking one for the team" n=1 experiment, I drank 5-10 shots of hard liquor a day for 4 years, either straight or mixed with soda water or diet soft drinks, and still managed to lose weight until my goal, then maintained my weight since then.

    You cannot *lose* weight while you are not sober... your body is burning the ethanol for energy, not asking your adipose tissue to give up fat energy.

    So, I was a fat-burner by day, and an ethanol-burner by night. Worked just fine for my n=1 experiment.

    I have since been sober six months, mostly to let my liver recover (it needed some help) and to reset my tolerance and be a light-weight drinker again. :)

    Reply: #113
  27. Justin
    I don't know if it's purely an Australian/New Zealand beer but - Pure Blonde Ultra Low Carb seems to good to be true ..... 4.2% alchohol - 0.5grams of carbohydrate per 100ml and 109kj per 100ml.
    Is that considered an acceptable level of carbs?
    Reply: #96
  28. LC
    I am unsure why you identify beer as being a disaster for a low carb diet and then go on to identify several different beer brands that have similar carb counts as red wine, and also significantly less alcohol - which would result in lower overall calorie counts compared to many red and white wines. Am I missing something here? Just trying to understand why you were so negative towards beer when there are clearly many low calorie, low carb options that may actually prove to be favorable compared to wine. Thanks!
  29. Wine Guy
    What's with beer guy here? Coors light or a nice Baco?? Umm ya easy pick LC. Go enjoy your watered down beer while us fit fancy people will be happy to wash our nice healthy supper down with something respectable and fine.
    Get a life.
  30. BeerSux
    I agree wine guy, LC needs to take it easy. If you want to drink the light beer than do it. No way you can tell me that beer is good for my gut! I'm shedding inches weekly staying away from beer and am down to a 40 inch waist from 46 inch a month, not sure if that's healthy but I look way better. Time for a shopping trip! STAY AWAY FROM BEER!!!
    Reply: #83
  31. Marco19
    Lc what an odd comment. How often do you sit down for a nice meal and ask for a nice warm light beer? "Beautiful steak- can I have a can of bud light with this?". Yes there are light beers out there with low cal and carb, but while they can be favourable in that category, they are unfavourable in taste and preference. When given the choice of these beer or water, may as well just go with the H2O
  32. LC
    Wow, didn't expect my post to garner so much negative attention. I was simply seeking clarity on why the author advises low carb dieters to completely avoid beer due to its high carb content, when in reality there are a number of brands that have similar, if not favourable nutrition profiles compared to wine.

    I also know many people that enjoy having a few cold (they don't have to be warm Marco19) light beers with many different kinds of food, including steak. Who doesn't like having a cold beer while grilling up a steak on a summer evening?

    At the end of the day, most calories that come from alcohol are empty ones. This is true for both wine and beer. So, "BeerSux" the 100+ calories you are getting from your glass of wine are likely having the same impact on your body weight as the equivalent calories you would get from a bottle of beer.

    All I was looking for in my initial post was recognition that beer too can be an occasional option for low carb dieters. Cheers!

  33. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Wine Guy, BeerSux!

    Please, just use one name when you comment our posts. And do not agree with your own comments in different names!

    /Peter Biörck Moderator

    I agree wine guy, LC needs to take it easy. If you want to drink the light beer than do it. No way you can tell me that beer is good for my gut! I'm shedding inches weekly staying away from beer and am down to a 40 inch waist from 46 inch a month, not sure if that's healthy but I look way better. Time for a shopping trip! STAY AWAY FROM BEER!!!

  34. Marco19
    LC, i think the frustration comes from the fact that a lot of us are on here to find ways to reduce our carb intake and do it in a tasty fashion. We are here looking for a nice alcoholic beverage that still has some full body and taste to it. We are already reducing our food options when it comes to taste, let's not also reduce our alcoholic beverages. I agree that we like a nice beer on a summer day, but how about one with some body and taste? Like a budweiser or a shock top. When we can not drink those, I think a lot of us would opt for some wine or liquor- something with some taste. A lot of the really low carb beers are watered down and don't provide that tasty pleasure.

    I hope that helps clarify why people may be frustrated with you and your lengthy posts.

  35. Jeffm
    One more thing for LC. I think beer as a healthy and tasteful option while dieting is impossible. At least for me...maybe LC is a slimmer man/woman that can handle the tasteless healthy beers or can drink as much real good beer as he/she wants (I'm guessing SHE). Sounds as if LC has other motives when promoting beer as an actual option vs wine and liquor.
    In my professional opinion, stay away from all beer ?, drink as much wine as you like.
    LC can go back to lobbying for beer elsewhere.
  36. Joe
    Water is the perfect beverage
  37. Kaylene
    What about celery with peanut butter, love those two together. Or vodka? Appreciate any advice.
  38. Dave Griffiths
    Isn't it true that your body will *always* burn alcohol before it burns fat? This page does makes it seem like you can get plastered and it will have no effect on weight-loss...
  39. Andy p
    my $0.02 on this matter is watch out for the effects of alcohol itself. Excluding the toxic effects of alcohol , bear in mind that the alcohol itself will be stored in your liver as fat and I'm not 100 percent sure if the quoted grams of Carb number take that into account. so if you drink a 250ml bottle of 5% alcohol veer , you will have 12.5 gms of alcohol in there that will to at least some extent get stored in your liver as fat. I would add that to the Carb content to get a more true value of the effects on your diet plan.

    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.

  40. eyesandhour.com
    I learned a lot from your post- thank you! I love how you use visuals and keep text concise. The organization of your content is super easy to follow.
  41. Christine
    0 carb beer from Australia to add to your list
    http://burleighbrewing.com.au/our-beer/#bighead
  42. Tbeller
    Hi all, pls the carbs in the drinks represented above is for what measure, e. g 100ml?

    Thanks

  43. william
    Bulmers light over here in Dublin is 0.X carbs and sugars see below, just cant buy the dam thing in UK shops, its still 4% as well.

    Nutrition Facts
    Bulmers Light - Cider (Pint Bottle)
    Servings:
    1

    Calories 140 Sodium 0 mg
    Total Fat 0 g Potassium 0 mg
    Saturated 0 g Total Carbs 0 g
    Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 0 g
    Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 0 g
    Trans 0 g Protein 0 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg
    Vitamin A 0% Calcium 0%
    Vitamin C 0% Iron

  44. sleeved524
    i thought alcohol was not good for ketosis. (atkins) can someone please explain to me the difference between atkins and this keto..im all for low to know carb its amazing but on atkins it says although you can drink alcohol (preferably straight vodka, whisky, tequilla no added anything) but it will stop the losing weight process until the alcohol leaves your system. i pretty much see all the same food here that i ate on atkins but no where did i see "if you drink alcohol that you are allowed to drink on this diet (keto) that you will stop losing ... oh im so confused..
  45. sleeved524
    No carbs sorry (not know)
  46. James
    That's what I drink (Pure Blonde Ultra Low Carb). Type 1 diabetic and I don't get spikes off it compared to normal beer. Seems true to label. Beer is OK, nothing to write home about, refreshing and does the job. I will happily drink it, and will choose it over normal beer now.
  47. Edward
    In the first paragraph about alcohol from this site:

    ..." First the obvious: Alcohol is not a weight-loss aid. The more alcohol you drink, the more weight loss may slow down, as the body burns the alcohol before anything else."

    You can't have your cake and eat it too (even if it is low carb). Everything is a trade-off. The way I read it is "if you must have an alcoholic drink, these are your best choices". I don't think anyone would argue that you 'should' drink any of them, especially if your goal is weight loss.

  48. Theresa
    I'm really surprised by the rude replies that LC was given about light beer. Those who replied to him are clearly the ones who need to take it easy. Though I normally choose a glass of wine or a shot on ice, I too, like a cold beer on a hot summer night. I also wondered the same thing when I saw the low carb count for 12oz of light beer vs 2+ for 4oz of wine. At the end of the day, alcohol in any quantity over 1 or 2 is a strong appetite stimulant for me and causes carb cravings, so I only indulge on rare occasions.
  49. Hb
    Yes!!! I was waiting ffor someone to say zevia!!!
  50. Ashley
    I did Keto diet and lost 40 lbs. it depends on the person. Carbs are death so long as you're keeping active on your Keto diet you'll be fine!
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