Can you drink alcohol on the keto diet? If the keto diet is supposed to be a lifelong journey, one of the biggest questions is, “can I drink alcohol”? The answer might surprise you. It’s yes and no.
If you are just starting your keto journey and still have tons of questions, it’s important to know what keto is, but more importantly, what ketosis is.
New to the keto diet? Start here! This will help you to figure out how to stick to this diet and make it a lifestyle for you
What is Ketosis
Let’s run down some of the basics here so you can see why liquor is a concern for those on the diet.
The keto diet is a sugar-free, extremely low-carb diet. Those on “strict keto,” meaning they’re following all the rules of the keto diet, aim to eat less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Doing this allows the body to enter into a metabolic state called ketosis, where the liver processes the fat stores you have as well as the fat that you eat into ketones.
Ketones are then used by your cells as a source of energy, instead of glucose that we usually get when we eat carbs.
This is a completely healthy process, and some would argue that ketones are a better quality energy source than glucose since they usually come with these other benefits.
How Alcohol Affects Ketosis
Remember, it’s your liver that processes fat into ketones. It’s also your liver that flushes alcohol out of your system, as alcohol contains no nutrients to be broken down and used inside the body. In fact, alcohol is seen as a toxin, and so getting rid of it is given priority over ketone production.
When your body is focused on flushing alcohol out, fewer ketones are being produced, and your weight loss may, therefore, be affected. How much alcohol you drink, and the type of alcohol will determine if you are knocked out of ketosis completely.
What Alcohol Can You Drink on the Keto Diet?
Hard liquor and dry wines are going to be your go-to on the keto diet, leaving behind the fancy cocktails and sugary mixes. Check out this handy chart by the great folks over at Ruled.Me
Calories matter here. As I said, alcohol is empty of nutrients, and therefore all these calories you’re drinking are only adding to your daily intake without providing any nutritional benefits.
You could easily drink yourself a whole meal’s worth of calories and still be famished while drinking, tipping your weight in the wrong direction and away from ketosis.
Why You Should Stay Away From Alcohol on Keto if Your Goal is Weight Loss
There are a few main reasons why you may want to give up alcohol altogether if your goal on keto is to lose weight.
- You’ll get drunk quicker. Carbs are usually the diet staple that soaks up the alcohol when we’re drinking. I know I usually eat a huge meal on a Friday night before I head out to try and keep all my faculties in check. You will become extremely light-headed on the keto diet, so you may want to stick to just one drink.
- Alcohol consumption usually leads to bad food decisions. Who doesn’t love a good, loaded-fries after a night out boozing? And with liquor in your system, it will be harder to resist saying no to a jumbo cheese dog than usual.
- You’ll stall your weight loss. As explained before, your body will prioritize metabolizing the alcohol, so your weight loss will slow when you drink alcohol. Liquor has a direct impact on belly fat, especially if you’re on keto to lose the gut; drinking is in direct conflict with that goal.
Once you’ve hit your goal weight and you’re in keto maintenance, it’s fine to imbibe responsibly every now and then.
How to Drink While In Ketosis
Okay, so while I’m preaching to stay away from alcohol if you want to lose weight on keto, I know that’s easier said than done.
If you do want to indulge and not find yourself knocked out, here are a few tips:
- Stick to hard liquor shots or chase with zero-carb chasers such as soda water or diet sodas. I still think diet sodas are a terrible idea with artificial sweeteners, but if you must…
- Have just one drink. Especially if this is your first time drinking while on keto, watch for your new tolerance level.
- Drink lots of water. Remember that the keto diet is diuretic in nature so you’ll want to be replenishing plus helping your liver to flush out where possible.
- Eat a big keto meal beforehand. Drinking on an empty stomach is always a bad idea and can be deadly on the keto diet. Just ask about alcohol ketoacidosis.
- This goes without saying, but always have a designated driver when you’re planning to have drinks. Never drink and drive.
I hope this helps you with your keto journey and understanding the impact of alcohol while you’re on keto.