What Alcohol Can I Drink On A Low Carb Diet?

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So you have been very good on your low carb diet all week and Friday night is coming TGIF! You want to go out and party with the gang but can you drink alcohol on a low carb diet? There is a way but you have to plan for it. Some alcoholic beverages are low in carbohydrates but it's not so simple.

On a low carb diet, one attempts to put their body into ketosis and have it burn stored fat instead of glucose (sugars). The low carb or “keto diet” switches the fuel source being burned in the body. It does not rely on calorie counting, exercise, or portion control.

The best way to do this is to eat a diet low in carbohydrates by avoiding foods, such as sugar, baked goods, and starchy vegetables. The liver converts stored fat into ketones. Ketones are an acid that is a usable form of energy in the body.

When your body is in ketosis it is burning fat instead of sugar.  You are switching from a sugar burner to a fat burner.

How do you lower your carbohydrate consumption?

  1. Cut out sugary foods and foods high in carbohydrates.

  2. Eat more healthy fats to help satiate your need for calories

  3. Without glucose coursing through your body it will start to burn fat. This forces the body to produce ketones 

  4. When there is a certain level of ketones in your blood your body is in ketosis and it will start to burn stored fat 

  5. You continue until you lose weight until you reach a healthy, stable weight.

When it comes to drinking alcohol, many types are low in carbohydrates.

Alcoholic drinks that are low in carbohydrates

Dry Wines: Are the lowest in carbohydrates 3-4 grams/ serving (5 oz. glass) White wines tend to be drier than red. 

  • Sauvignon Blanc: 3.8 grams per serving
  • Pinot Grigio: 3.2 grams of carbs /5 oz.
  • Pinot Noir: 3.4 grams of carbs /5oz
  • Champagne: 1.5 grams carbohydrates per 5oz. serving

Red wine:

  • Merlot (122 calories 3.7 grams of carbs)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (122 calories 3.8 grams of carbs)
  • Syrah (122 calories 3.78 grams of carbohydrates/5oz
  • Zinfandel (129 calories and 4.2 grams of carbohydrates)

Hard Liquor: Vodka, tequila, rum, gin, cognac, brandy or whiskey 1 oz. has no sugar or carbohydrates but they do contain calories. For example, 1 oz. of tequila contains 0 grams of fat, protein, or carbs but 97 calories.

You can add ice and water, or ice and sparkling water. (Check out the flavored sparkling waters for their carbohydrate concentration  and choose wisely.) Don’t add juice or mixers, except for coke zero or diet coke which has 0 calories and 0 grams of carbohydrates.

Beer: Today there are a variety of beers with low carbohydrates. Budweiser, for example, has 141 calories and 10.6 grams of carbs but a Bud light has only 103 calories and 4.6 carbs. Read your labels, and treat yourself as long as it does not hinder your weight loss.

Hard Cider: 199 calories and 21 grams of carbohydrates per serving  so it should be avoided

If you thought about mixing your alcohol with soda other than plain soda water read your labels.

  • Coke 12 oz serving has 140 calories and 39 grams of carbs - avoid
  • Coke life (cane sugar and Stevia ) 12 oz serving 90 calories and 24 grams of carbs - avoid
  • Coke Zero 12 oz serving 0 calories and 0 grams of carbs - possible option
  • Fanta Orange 12 oz serving 160 calories and 44 grams of carbs - avoid
  • 7-UP 12 oz serving 140 calories 39 grams of carbs - avoid

However, just because you can drink some types of alcohol, because they do not contain carbohydrates does not mean that you will be aiding your weight loss.

The more you drink, the more likely your weight loss progress will slow down. Your body reacts to alcohol in a certain way.  Alcohol is different in that it cannot be stored like carbohydrates, protein, or fat. Before burning anything else your body will burn alcohol first, and fat burning will be put on hold.

Drinking one drink of low carbohydrate alcohol may not affect your ketosis. If you stop losing weight because you are drinking alcohol it is advised to stop drinking alcohol while on the diet.

  • When you do decide to drink remember not all drinks are low in carbohydrates.
  • When you do drink, do so in moderation.
  • What has been recommended is one drink for women per day and two drinks per day for men, but we are referring to alcohol that is low in carbs.

Which alcoholic drinks are high in carbohydrates and should be avoided?

Many alcoholic beverages are high in carbohydrates, especially beer, sweet and semi-sweet wines, liquors, and cocktails with mixers like Breezers or coolers.  Drinking beer is like eating liquid bread. Drinking these types of alcohol will kick your body out of ketosis.

Dr. Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist, and certified natural medicine MD recommend that 5% of your diet should come from carbohydrates, 15% from protein and the rest should come from fat.

Most people who start a low carbohydrate diet will first lose mostly water weight and some muscle loss. It takes a couple of weeks before your body truly begins to lose fat.

If you don’t eat enough calories you may continue to lose muscle. A successful keto dieter maintains proper ratios of fat, protein, and carbs as well as eating enough calories.   Eating too much protein can stall the ketosis.

According to Dr. Axe,

“Some people are simply focused on cutting carbs and eating lots of fat on the keto (low carb) diet, but I recommend that you make a real effort to stick to eating whole, unprocessed foods. Always try to purchase organic, high-quality foods when possible- especially grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught. And free-range animal products. This is hugely beneficial for your overall health because it means you’ll be cutting out empty calories and inflammatory foods like processed meat, low-quality dairy, sugar, and refined grains.”

So you decided to each a low carb diet, you can still enjoy some alcoholic drinks that are low in carbohydrates, just do it wisely in moderation and count your carbs.

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