Keto Diet and Alcohol: The Best and Worst Drinks to Choose
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet used by many people to lose weight and improve health.
It typically requires careful planning so that you stick within your daily carb allotment and keep your body in ketosis. This may mean giving up sweets, snacks and other high-carb indulgences like soft drinks and alcohol.
However, there are plenty of low-carb alcoholic beverages that you can enjoy in moderation — even on a keto diet.
This article gives you the best and worst alcoholic drinks to choose on the keto diet.
Many low-carb alcohol options are available if you follow a keto diet.
For instance, pure forms of alcohol like whiskey, gin, tequila, rum and vodka are all completely free of carbs.
These beverages can be drunk straight or combined with low-carb mixers for more flavor.
Wine and light varieties of beer are also relatively low in carbs — usually 3–4 grams per serving.
Here is how the top keto-friendly drinks stack up:
|Type of alcohol||Serving size||Carb content|
|Rum||1.5 ounces (44 ml)||0 grams|
|Vodka||1.5 ounces (44 ml)||0 grams|
|Gin||1.5 ounces (44 ml)||0 grams|
|Tequila||1.5 ounces (44 ml)||0 grams|
|Whiskey||1.5 ounces (44 ml)||0 grams|
|Red wine||5 ounces (148 ml)||3–4 grams|
|White wine||5 ounces (148 ml)||3–4 grams|
|Light beer||12 ounces (355 ml)||3 grams|
Keto-friendly mixers are just as important as the alcohol itself.
Watch out for common mixers like juice, soda, sweeteners and energy drinks — they can quickly turn a carb-free drink into a high-calorie carb bomb.
Instead, opt for low-carb mixers like diet soda, sugar-free tonic water, seltzer or powdered flavor packets.
These mixers can keep your carb intake low while boosting your beverage’s taste.
Here is the carb content for a few keto-friendly drink mixers:
|Type of mixer||Serving size||Carb content|
|Seltzer||1 cup (240 ml)||0 grams|
|Sugar-free tonic water||1 cup (240 ml)||0 grams|
|Diet soda||12-ounce (355-ml) can||0 grams|
|Crystal Light drink mix||1/2 teaspoon (2 grams)||0 grams|
Drinks to Avoid
Many alcoholic beverages are loaded with carbs, some varieties packing over 30 grams in a single serving.
For example, cocktails and mixed drinks usually rely on high-carb, sugary ingredients like juice, soda, sweeteners or syrups.
Meanwhile, regular beer is produced from starch and can contain upwards of 12 grams of carbs in just one can.
Here is a comparison of the carb content of several popular alcoholic beverages — which you should avoid if you’re on a keto diet:
|Type of alcohol||Serving size||Carb content|
|Margarita||1 cup (240 ml)||13 grams|
|Bloody Mary||1 cup (240 ml)||10 grams|
|Whiskey sour||3.5 ounces (105 ml)||14 grams|
|Sangria||1 cup (240 ml)||27 grams|
|Piña colada||4.5 ounces (133 ml)||32 grams|
|Cosmopolitan||3.5 ounces (105 ml)||22 grams|
|Regular beer||12-ounce (355-ml) can||12 grams|
Moderation Is Key
Although there are plenty of low-carb, keto-friendly alcoholic beverages available, that doesn’t mean that they should become a regular part of your routine.
Even low-carb varieties of alcohol are still rich in empty calories, meaning that they supply many calories with little to no essential nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins or minerals.
Not only can overindulging in booze increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies over time, but it may also contribute to gradual weight gain.
In fact, in one eight-year study in 49,324 women, consuming at least two drinks per day was associated with an increased risk of significant weight gain, compared to light or moderate drinking.
Alcohol can also suppress fat burning and increase body fat by storing extra calories as fat tissue in your body.
Excessive drinking may also contribute to other serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, liver problems and cancer.
For this reason, it’s best to keep alcohol intake moderate — defined as one drink per day for women and two per day for men.
The Bottom Line
Even on a keto diet, there are plenty of low-carb alcoholic beverages to choose from.
Wine, light beer and pure forms of alcohol — such as whiskey, rum and gin — offer few or zero carbs per serving and are easily paired with low-carb mixers like seltzer, diet soda or sugar-free tonic water.
However, regardless of your diet, it’s best to keep alcohol consumption in check to avoid adverse health effects.
As a rule of thumb, women should stick to a maximum of one drink per day, while men should stick to two or fewer.
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 doesn’t help weight loss. The more alcohol you drink, the harder it is to lose weight, since the body tends to burn alcohol before anything else.Drinking alcohol can also make you want to eat more.
The short version: wine is much lower in carbs than beer, so most people on keto choose wine.
Pure spirits like whiskey and vodka contain zero carbs. Watch out for sweet mixed drinks – they may have massive amounts of sugar.
For more detail, check out the visual guide below. The lower-carb (keto-friendly) options are to the left.
The numbers represent grams of carbs in a typical serving – for example, one glass of wine or one draft beer. Note that sweet brands of wine or sparkling wine may contain more carbs, while other types may contain a bit less.
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.
Dry wines usually contain less than 0.5 grams of sugar per glass.Fermentation byproducts in wine, like glycerol, should have a minimal effect on blood sugar or insulin levels.Using 2 grams as an estimate of carbs per glass of dry wine is conservative. Fortunately, all dry wines fit well within a keto diet.
Sweet dessert wines, however, contain a lot more sugar.
Beer is a problem on keto. There’s a reason people talk about “beer bellies.” Beer is made from grains, which provide a lot of rapidly digestible carbs. It’s even been called “liquid bread.”For this reason, most beers are bad for weight control and should be avoided on keto.
Note that the amount of carbs in beer varies depending on the brand. There are a few possible low-carb options for keto. Check out our keto beer guide below for details.
The numbers represent grams of carbs per drink, or the amount 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, gin, and tequila contain zero carbs and are all fine on keto.
Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks. Don’t add juice, soft drinks, or sweet flavorings to spirits. Adding tonic to zero-carb gin boosts its carb count to 16 grams per serving! Have vodka, soda water and a twist of lime instead for a refreshing carb-free drink.
The worst option of all is to mix alcohol with soda or juice. This is a sugar bomb.
Wine coolers / alcopops
The numbers represent grams of carbs (sugar) per bottle.
So, what about wine coolers or “alcopops”? They’re just like regular soda with added alcohol, and should be avoided.
The numbers above are the grams of carbs in one 12 oz. bottle of beer (355 ml).
Although the carb counts vary among different brands, most are too high for a keto diet. Even on a more liberal low-carb diet it might be wise to keep beer drinking as an occasional thing.
The exception is ultra-lite American beers, which contain very few carbs. So if you like them, you’re in luck. Check out the brands to the left in the graphic above.
Top 5 keto 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 great keto options, with little or no sugar or carbs.
Here’s our list of the top 5 keto alcoholic drinks:
- Champagne or sparkling wine (extra dry or brut): one glass contains about 2 grams of net carbs.
- Dry wine, red or white: one glass contains about 2 grams of net carbs.
- Vodka, club soda, and lemon or lime: one tall drink contains 0 grams of carbs.
- Whiskey: one drink contains 0 grams of carbs.
- Dry martini: one cocktail contains 0 grams of carbs.
A word of caution
When eating a keto diet, some people get intoxicated from significantly less alcohol.So be careful the first time you drink alcohol on keto. You may only need half as many drinks as usual to enjoy yourself. So keto may save you money at the bar.
The reasons for this common experience aren’t fully known. Possibly the liver is busy producing ketones or glucose, and thus has less capacity to burn alcohol.
This is great if you’re looking to maximize alcohol’s intoxicating impact. On the other hand, your hangover could be worse.
Be very careful doing anything where impairment could increase the risk of accidents or injury. Never drink and drive.
Furthermore, if you’re using a keto diet to treat metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease, be aware that alcohol can have a negative effect on liver health.
Excessive alcohol acts as a liver toxin.
Finally, it appears that alcohol intake might somewhat reduce ketone production, even in the absence of sugar or carbs.
Here’s an in-depth article with more details on the above, and other surprising things about alcohol on a keto diet: