8 of the Best Keto-Friendly Drinks
If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you’re super focused on what you’re eating (and especially what you’re not eating). But don’t forget that what you sip can set you up for success, too.
Why Staying Hydrated Is Crucial on the Keto Diet
In the beginning stages of a keto diet, when your body is adapting to severely restricting carbohydrates, your body’s hydration status will shift. After all, your body stores carbohydrates as glycogen, which holds onto water. Exhaust these glycogen stores, and you’re going to dump water weight with it. What’s more, taking out processed foods from your diet — which are traditionally higher in sodium — can also affect your body’s electrolyte and fluid balance because salt can lead to water retention.
“Hydration is difficult for many on the keto diet, especially in the beginning. You need to make sure you’re drinking a lot of water and replenishing electrolytes,” says Kendra Whitmire, a nutritionist and dietitian in Laguna Beach, California, who practices functional and therapeutic nutrition.
Drinks You Should Try to Avoid on the Keto Diet
Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks (like soda) and fruit juice (even 100 percent juice) because they’re packed with sugar, and thus carbs. Dairy milk is also high in carbs, so it’s not keto-friendly. Skip (or at the very least, limit) diet drinks, too, says Jill Keene, RDN, who’s in private practice in White Plains, New York. Some artificial sweeteners may negatively affect blood sugar, she says.
Is Diet Coke Allowed on Keto?
While beverages such as Diet Coke (or diet soda in general) are technically keto-compliant, they may lead you to crave more. A review published in January 2019 in BMJ suggested these artificially sweetened sips may trick the body into craving the calories and carbs it believes it’s getting from the diet soda. When your body realizes it isn’t, you may make up for it by overeating.
Regardless of whether that effect would hold true on keto, you have a lot of better, tasty drink options. Here are eight great drinks if you’re on this plan:
Water Is the Best Drink You Can Sip on the Keto Diet
This is hands down the best drink for you — keto or not, says Keene. Keep a water bottle near you at all times and sip throughout the day to stay ahead of your hydration.
Plain Low-Carb, Calorie-Free Tea Is Also Keto-Friendly
Tea is another great choice, as it’s carb- and calorie-free — as long as you keep it plain and don’t add sugar or another sweetener. Rich in health-promoting antioxidant flavonoids, teas also may improve the functioning of blood vessels to keep your heart well, according to the Harvard Health Letter. If sipping in the afternoon or evening, go for a caffeine-free herbal tea, such as chamomile tea, so it doesn’t impact your sleep at night.
Seltzer or Sparkling Water Is Another Carb-Free Drink Option
This is a great way to mix up your usual water — just avoid tonic, which looks like clear, plain bubbled water, but actually contains a ton of sugar. Adding a squeeze of lemon adds nearly ½ gram (g) of carbohydrates, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Plain Coffee, or Coffee With Unsweetened Heavy Cream, Is Also Okay on the Keto Diet
Like with tea, it’s what you add to your brew that matters most. Drinking it black is completely calorie free, but many keto dieters will appreciate the added fat that heavy cream provides, says Scott Keatley, RDN, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy in New York City. For adults, up to 400 milligrams (mg) per day of caffeine is considered safe, according to the Mayo Clinic. For reference, 1 cup — 8 fluid ounces (oz) — of coffee contains about 92 mg, per the USDA, while a tall coffee at Starbucks contains 245 mg, according to the company website.
Bone Broth Can Be a Comforting Keto-Friendly Drink
There’s something uniquely warming and comforting about sipping a steaming cup of bone broth. One brand notes this liquid offers 0 carbs and 1 cup contains less than 50 calories while adding 9 g of protein. Traditional broth is a stellar option, too, though it has less protein. One cup contains 13 calories and 2.5 g of protein, according to the USDA.
Nut Milks Are Also Low-Carb and Okay for Keto Dieters
Almond, coconut, and cashew milks make for great choices if you want to mix things up, as they contain 1 g (or less) of carbs per cup. Just be sure to always read the nutrition label closely and choose unsweetened varieties. These are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, so they’re a good way to get in calcium and vitamin D.
Kombucha Can Be an Okay Alternative to Soda, but Only in Moderation
This isn’t the best pick — nor should it be your go-to sip. But if you’re really craving something sweet and soda-like, consider kombucha, a gut-friendly fermented tea. Catch is, all kombuchas are made with sugar, which is needed for the fermentation process. “You’ll have to sacrifice carbs in order to drink kombucha,” says Whitmire. Read the label — the amount of sugar added is all over the map. You can find some brands and flavors that have about 3 g of carbs per ½ cup. (That’s one-quarter of the bottle, so measure it out.)
You Can Drink Alcohol on Keto, but Certain Types Are Preferable to Others
“Partying daily shouldn’t happen, but if you want to go out and have a glass of wine, that’s fine as long as it fits within your daily carbs,” says Whitmire. Spirits (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) have 0 g of carbs per 1-oz serving, notes the USDA.
Remember to mix these with plain water or an unsweetened sparkling water rather than fruit juice or soda. A 5-oz glass of red table wine contains 4 g of carbs according to according to the USDA, and the same goes for white table wine, notes the USDA. Generally, drier wines contain less sugar, Whitemire says. For instance, go for a sauvignon blanc over a riesling.