Keto drinks – the best and the worst
Thirsty on the keto diet? Keeping well hydrated is important to feel your best. What are the best drinks? What drinks should you avoid?
Another great choice is tea or coffee — but don’t add sugar! An occasional glass of wine is okay, too.
The numbers are the grams of net carbs in a typical serving, such as the size served in a restaurant or amount packaged in a typical can or bottle.1
Drinks with green numbers are good keto options. Drinks with asterisks have some special caveats. Read on for details.
Drinking a sugary soft drink on a keto diet is never a good idea, but size truly matters. A large bottle (i.e 33 ounces or 1 liter or more) has more carbs than almost an entire week’s keto allowance.2
A can of soda can kick you out of ketosis for a day, but a large bottle may prevent ketosis for a number of days or even a week. 3
If you have diabetes or insulin resistance, avoid all sugary soft drinks in order to keep your blood glucose stable and improve your health.4
Over the last 40 years, diet sodas — without calories or carbs — have had a huge market around the world, promoting the idea that you can have a sugary-tasting beverage without any of the harms and consequences of real sugar. Alas, it is not that simple.
Sweetened with artificial products like aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K or refined stevia, these diet drinks are not necessarily helpful for sustained weight loss or improved health.
Their problems include maintaining cravings for sweet tastes, which can undermine keto progress and keep sugar addictions in place.5 Acting on the same taste bud sensors as real sugar, they blunt the ability to taste the natural flavors and sweetness of real food. 6 Some sweeteners, such as sucralose, can still cause a blood glucose and insulin response and contribute to fat storage. 7 Observational studies show that drinking diet soft drinks is associated with higher BMIs and higher rates of cardiovascular disease. 8
Other studies have noted that their long term impact on many health factors is still unknown, but that they may alter many body processes, such as metabolism, brain reward systems, appetite regulation, and the microbiome.9
Studies supporting the use of diet soft drinks in weight loss programs are often conducted by the diet drink industry. A 2017 study found that much of the research on artificial sweeteners has been funded by industry and features conflict of interest, research bias, and positive results that cannot be reproduced. 10
Drinking diet soda may or may not be better than drinking sugary soda. However, one thing is certain. If you can cut both out of your daily beverage habits, your health and waistline will likely thank you.
Unlike many diets, which usually forbid all alcohol, the keto diet allows moderate consumption of specific alcoholic beverages.11
Dry red and white wine is fine in moderation. Beer is generally not okay — it is liquid bread — but there are a few low carb beers that can be consumed from time to time. And spirits — like vodka, gin or whiskey — have no carbs at all.
Check out all the various alcoholic drinks that are keto in our keto alcohol guide
You can also listen to the Diet Doctor Podcast with low-carb wine expert and entrepreneur Todd White.
Detailed carb-count list for common drinks
Remember that a strict keto diet, keeps carbs very low. It is typically best to keep carbs from drinks as close to 0 as possible and to use your carb allotment for foods such as fresh vegetables. Below is a detailed list of the number of grams of carbs in a typical serving size of various drinks.
Water 0 (The clear winner)
Water with lemon 0
Tea 0 (one sugar cube adds 4 grams)
Keto iced tea 0 (recipe)
Coffee 0 (milk adds roughly 1-3 grams of carbs)
Diet soft drink 0 (artificial sweeteners cause other problems though)
Wine 2 (5 oz – 14 cl)
Almond milk, unsweetened 2 (8 oz – 25 cl)
Coconut water 9 (1 cup – 24 cl)
Vegetable juice 11 (1 cup – 24 cl). The amount of carbs can vary. Adding fruit juice adds more carbs.
Milk 11 (1 cup – 24 cl). Lactose, the sugar in milk can be problematic for some.
Soy milk 12 (1 cup – 24 cl)
Beer 13 (12 oz – 35 cl). The amount varies (keto beer guide).
Caffè latte 15 (12 oz – 35 cl)
Kombucha tea 10 (12 oz – 35 cl). This is the average of commercial teas. Homemade Kombucha tea varies with the time it has fermented, and may end up somewhat lower in carbs.
Orange juice 26 (1 cup – 24 cl)
Energy drink 28 (8.4 oz – 25 cl)
Vitamin water 32 (12 oz – 35 cl)
Sweetened iced tea 32 (12 oz – 35 cl). This is the average of most commercial iced tea products, which vary in their amount of sweetness.
Soft drink 39 (12 oz – 35 cl)
Smoothie 36 (12 oz – 35 cl). Varies depending on contents. May be low carb, but not typically keto ratios. (Low-carb smoothie recipes).
Frappuccino 50 (12 oz – 35 cl). All sweet coffee drinks are high in carbs.
Milkshake 60 (10 oz – 30 cl). Not part of a ketogenic diet.
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Net carbs = digestible carbs, i.e. total carbs minus fibre. ↩
Research suggests that these sweeteners partially activate the “food reward” pathway responsible for cravings:
CMAJ 2017: Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. [meta-analysis of observational studies, weak evidence] ↩