Keto alcohol – the best and the worst drinks

  |     |     |     |  

 
What are the best and the worst alcoholic drinks on a keto diet? 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.

With that said, there is a huge difference between different kinds of drinks – some are pretty ok, some are disasters.

The short version: wine is much lower in carbs than beer, so most people who eat keto choose wine. Pure spirits like whiskey and vodka contain zero carbs, but watch out for sweet drinks – they may contain massive amounts of sugar.

For more detail check out this guide, the lower-carb (i.e. keto) options are to the left.

Wine and beer

Low-Carb Wine and Beer

The numbers represent grams of carbs per a typical serving – for example one glass of wine or one draft beer.

Wine

Even on a keto diet (below 20 grams per day) you can probably have a glass of wine fairly regularly. And on a moderate low-carb diet, wine is not a problem.

Please note that dry wines contain less than 0.5 grams of sugar per glass. The other carbs constitute miscellaneous remains from the fermentation process, like glycerol, that should have a minimal effect on blood sugar or insulin levels. Using the number 2 grams of carbs per glass of dry wine is conservative. All dry wines fit well within a keto diet.

Sweet dessert wines, however, contain a lot more sugar.

Beer

Beer is a problem on keto. There’s a reason people talk about “beer bellies”. There are tons of rapidly digestible carbs in beer – it’s been called liquid bread. For that reason, unfortunately, most beers are a disaster for weight control and should be avoided on keto.

Note that the amount of carbs in beer vary depending on the brand. There are a few possible low-carb options for keto. Check out our keto beer guide below for details.

Spirits

Low-Carb Spirits

The numbers represent grams of carbs per drink, e.g. what you’ll get if you order one in a bar.

When it comes to drinks, it’s pretty straightforward. Pure spirits like whiskey, brandy, cognac, vodka, tequila contain zero carbs and they are all fine on keto.

However, avoid sugar-sweetened drinks. Note that the popular drink Gin & Tonic is full of sugar, 16 grams – a common mistake on keto. Switch to vodka, soda water and lime instead, and you’ll have zero carbs.

The worst option of all is to mix alcohol with soda or juice, this will be a sugar bomb.

Alcopops / wine coolers

Low-carb wine coolers

The numbers represent grams of carbs (sugar) per bottle.

So, what about alcopops / wine coolers? They’re just like regular soda with alcohol in them, and should be avoided by everyone who wants to avoid drinking massive amounts of sugar.

Keto beers

Low-Carb Beers

The numbers above are the grams of carbs in one 12 oz. bottle of beer (355 ml).

There are huge differences between different brands, but most contain too many carbs to fit a keto diet. Even on a more liberal low-carb diet it would be wise to keep beer drinking as an occasional thing.

The exception is very light American beers. Many of them contain few carbs, so if you like them you are in luck. Check out the brands to the left in the graphic above.
 

Top 5 keto alcoholic drinks

Top 5 Alcoholic Drinks

On a keto 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 really good keto options, with little or no sugar or other carbs. Here’s our list of the top 5 keto alcoholic drinks.
 

  1. Champagne or dry sparkling wine – one glass contains about 1 grams of net carbs.
  2. Pop the bubbly for a low carb toast to good health. Whether it is expensive Champagne from France, or other more affordable dry sparkling wines like Brut, Cava, Prosecco, from other countries, look for the driest versions and enjoy as an aperitif, with food or as a stand-alone drink.

  3. Dry wine – red or white – one glass contains about 2 grams of net carbs.
  4. “Beer is made by man, but wine is made by God” said Martin Luther. Some have called it the fourth macronutrient, after fat, protein and carbs. It has been a key part of human civilization for at least 8,000 years — and no wonder, it pairs so wonderfully with food and friends. Fortunately, dry wine from time-to-time is fine on a keto diet.

  5. “Skinny Bitch” – one long drink contains 0 grams of carbs.
  6. The go-to drink of the “Housewives of” TV franchise, skinny bitch has the country-club cachet but not the carbs of the old standby gin-and-tonic. Sparkling, light and refreshing, it consists of just vodka, soda water, and lime, perfect to sip and dish the dirt.

  7. Whiskey – one drink contains 0 grams of carbs.
  8. “Whiskey is liquid sunshine,” said George Bernard Shaw. Whether you like it neat, with rocks, soda or water, it’s zero carb and gluten free, even though it comes from fermented grains. Scotch, Irish, Canadian, Bourbon, Rye — whatever its name and style, it’s okay for a special occasion.

  9. Dry Martini – one cocktail contains 0 grams of carbs.
  10. In the books James Bond liked his martini with 3 parts Gordon’s gin, 1 part vodka, and a half jigger of Kina Lillet. On the screen it was always a vodka martini with a whisper of vermouth, garnished with a lemon twist. It’s a strong drink, even for a secret agent. Whether made with gin or vodka, and garnished with an olive, a lemon twist or a pearl onion, martinis remain one of the most popular aperitifs — shaken, not stirred, of course.

 
Return to the top of the keto alcohol guide
 


 
 

A word of caution

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

The reasons for this common experience are not fully known. Possibly the liver is busy producing ketones or glucose, and thus has less capacity to burn alcohol.

That’s great if you are looking for alcohol’s intoxicating impact — less will get you more and save you money in the bargain. But the hangover may be worse

But be very careful for anything in which impairment can increase the risk of accidents or injury. Never drink and drive.

Here’s an in-depth article with more surprising things about alcohol on a keto diet:

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

 

Similar keto guides

Meal plans

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

More

A ketogenic diet for beginners
Ketogenic diet foods – what to eat
14-day keto diet plan