Probably one of the more frequently asked questions when people are starting out eating keto…. “can I have wine with that steak?”. While drinks like beer and sugary cocktails are essentially off limits while eating a ketogenic diet, many people do enjoy a low-carb drink or wine as part of their keto lifestyle – but how do these drinks affect the body? In this blog we’ll explore if drinking on keto impacts weight loss or your ability to stay in ketosis.
Disclaimer: this information is intended for the general public and should not be substituted as medical advice.
- Will alcohol kick me out of ketosis?
- Will drinking alcohol affect weight loss?
- Cautions when drinking on keto: hangover and intoxication
Will alcohol kick me out of ketosis?
Well, depends what you’re drinking. Alcohol doesn’t necessarily kick you out of ketosis by default, but drinks with higher carbs..just like food with higher carbs, can raise blood glucose and switch your body back into burning glucose for fuel. If you’re drinking beer, too much wine or any sugar filled mixed drink or cooler, it’s likely you’re going over the carb count. Lower carb drinks like hard liquor and dry wine can be enjoyed occasionally without having impact on ketosis and still keep you within your carb limits.
Will drinking alcohol affect weight-loss?
Short answer, kind of. Regardless of the carb count in your drink, when alcohol is consumed, the body immediately prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol above all else – it wants to break it down and get it out. What this means is as soon as you have a drink, your liver will start breaking down the ethanol, and as a result, your body will use the by-products of alcohol for fuel over everything else. While liver is focused on detoxifying alcohol, fat burning will be slowed, and as a result weight loss may slow. Keep in mind, the liver is also what is converting all our fat into ketone bodies. This is why when the liver is given a new task (aka metabolizing alcohol) the process of burning fat into ketone bodies will be slowed. This may not take you out of ketosis, but it can slow weight-loss down.
There are many factors that affect weight loss, all completely unique to the individual. The occasional drink will likely not have a big impact on weight-loss long term. However, if you have a habit of a weekly drink and are finding your weight-loss stalled, taking out the alcohol may help. According to many experts in the low-carb world “alcohol is not conducive to steady weight loss”.
Cautions when drinking on keto
Be aware that your alcohol tolerance on keto may be much lower than previously. On a strict low-carb diet, this is the case for most people. Be careful when consuming alcohol on keto as you may find yourself needing a lot less alcohol to become intoxicated then you did before. While there is not a clear explanation for why this happens, this could be related to the fact that the liver is responsible for both ketone production and alcohol metabolism. It is theorized that while your liver is burning ketones it has less capacity to focus on metabolizing alcohol, causing you to feel drunk faster.
Another common experience with drinking and keto is that hangovers are much worse. While this isn’t a guarantee, many people claim this happens to them after making the switch to being fat fuelled. This is likely due to the fact that your body is holding onto less water when you’re eating low-carb, and risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are much higher. Always making sure to drink lots of water, or rotate between a drink and a glass of water can help prevent hangovers. Following your drink with some electrolytes like magnesium or salt may also help.
For those who incorporate intermittent fasting into their keto lifestyle, being aware of how alcohol may affect your body is important. As discussed above, when we consume alcohol, our body prioritizes this metabolic process, and may put other processes on hold. This is why when we drink blood sugar goes down. Take caution if you practice intermittent fasting. It is best to enjoy a healthy keto friendly meal before drinking.
Keto Friendly Drink Guide
All this being said, if you are going to enjoy a keto friendly drink, stick to the low-carb options and make sure to drink lots of water! See the keto drink guide below for tips!
Low-Carb Alcohol Options:
- Dry wines (white or red)
- Sparkling wine / champagne
Higher Carb Drinks
- Smirnoff ice
- Vodka OJ
- Bacardi breezes
- Anything mixed drinks with more sugar
If you do decide to drink beer, some low-carb options are:
- Michelob Ultra
- Busch light
- Natural light
- Bud Ice
Keto Mixers & Cocktails
When it comes to mixing your drinks, sticking to soda water or pop alternatives (like La Croix, or Phat Tea) that are keto friendly should be chosen to avoid all added sugar. All pop, juice and sugar based mixes should be avoided.
Most cocktails will be higher in sugar but some low-carb options include:
- Gin Rickey
As with all things keto, it is up to you to decide what works best with your body and your health goals. If you want to make alcohol fit into your carb count, it can be done! It is up to you to decide what will work for your lifestyle. If you are just starting out or are not seeing the results you’d like, take a break and revaluate how you feel. Always make sure to listen to your body every step of the way! Of course, too much alcohol is never a good thing. If you do drink, take it easy and be mindful that you may become more intoxicated. and make sure to always have a designated driver.