For years, I’ve read countless dieting books that prohibited me from drinking alcohol. Actually, it’s probably the first thing that many “diet gurus” say to cut out of your diet and for (somewhat) good reason. Alcohol gets a bad reputation because it’s basically empty calories.
In an ideal world, sure. I’ll give up alcohol to lose weight. But let’s get serious. I’m 23 years old and I very much enjoy a tasty alcoholic beverage (or 5) and a wild night out on the town with my friends.
The beauty of a ketogenic, low carb diet is that you can still enjoy yourself from time-to-time with alcohol and still lose weight! However, there are some guidelines as to what alcohols you can enjoy and those you should avoid.
On average, one shot is the equivalent to about 1.5oz and for these spirits have a nutritional value of 0 carbs and roughly 64 calories. Of course, this will vary depending on how much is actually in your beverage (order a double? Double the nutritional stats).
Approved spirits on a keto, low carb diet include:
- Vodka (Three Olives, Absolut, Grey Goose, etc.)
- Rum (Captain Morgan, etc)
- Gin (Tanqueray, Beefeater, etc)
- Whiskey (Jack Daniel’s, etc.)
- Cognac (Hennessy, etc.)
Please note that these are for the original, unflavored versions. For flavored spirits (including flavored vodkas and some dark/coconut rums), always check up on nutritional information before consuming as they often contain carbohydrates.
My spirit of choice is generally a nice gin (with soda water and lime) or cognac (with diet cola).
I’m going to be up front. It’s really hard to drink really great beers on a keto, low carb diet. No more craft beers or IPAs. You’re doomed to mostly light beers which generally just leave me longing for something more. Basically, you want to avoid anything red, amber or dark.
Some low carb beer picks include (per 12 oz/bottle):
Lowest Carb Beers
- Bud Select 55: 55 calories, 1.9 carbs
- MGD 64: 64 calories, 2.4 carbs
- Rolling Rock Green Light: 92 calories, 2.4 carbs
- Michelob Ultra: 95 calories, 2.6 carbs
- Bud Select: 99 calories, 3.1 carbs
- Miller Lite: 96 calories, 3.2 carbs
Moderate Carb Beers
- Natural Light: 95 calories, 3.2 carbs
- Michelob Ultra Amber: 114 calories, 3.7 carbs
- Coors Light: 102 calories, 5 carbs
- Amstel Light: 95 calories, 5 carbs
- Bud Light: 110 calories, 6.6 carbs
I was extremely excited to find out that wine can fit into a low carb, keto diet! I had always figured that since it was made from grapes it would be crawling in sugar, but luckily this isn’t the case! These numbers are based on 5 oz servings.
Red wines to enjoy:
- Merlot: 120 calories, 3.7 carbs
- Pinot Noir: 121 calories, 3.4 carbs
- Cabernet: 120 calories, 3.8 carbs
- Syrah: 130 calories, 3.9 carbs
- Zinfandel: 130 calories, 4.2 carbs
White wines to enjoy:
- Champagne/Sparking whites: 96 calories, 1.5 carbs
- Pinot Gris/Grigio: 122 calories, 3.2 carbs
- Chardonnay: 118 calories, 3.7 carbs
- Riesling: 118 calories, 5.5 carbs
Chasers and Mixers
For mixing or chasing, you have many no sugar, zero calorie options:
- Diet soda (Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Diet Ginger Ale)
- Soda water
- Diet tonic water
- Seltzer water
- Sugar-free energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, etc.)
- Sparkling water (Perrier, LaCroix)
- Crystal Light
Tips, tricks and what to avoid
- No matter how much I love it, avoid Jagermeister. For one shot, it’s roughly 10 carbs.
- Be wary of food choices while under the influence. You can still get the fatty cheeseburger, but avoid the bun and French fries.
- Avoid fruit juice, shots with fruity tastes (peach schnapps, blue curacao, etc.) as they’re just generally concentrated sources of sugar and carbohydrates.
- Be aware that when consuming alcohol, it is burned first before fat in the body. For some people, this causes a stall. In others, it jumpstarts weight loss. Test it for yourself and see how your body handles it!
- #1 Rule – After a few weeks of a low carb diet, you will notice your alcohol tolerance is dramatically lower. Take caution! One or two drinks should be more than enough!