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 from 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:
- Rum: 1.5 ounces (44 ml) contains 0 grams
- Vodka: 1.5 ounces (44 ml) contains 0 grams
- Gin: 1.5 ounces (44 ml) contains 0 grams
- Tequila: 1.5 ounces (44 ml) contains 0 grams
- Whiskey: 1.5 ounces (44 ml) contains 0 grams
- Red wine: 5 ounces (148 ml) contains 3–4 grams
- White wine: 5 ounces (148 ml) contains 3–4 grams
- Light beer: 12 ounces (355 ml) contains 3 grams
Summary: Pure alcohol products like rum, vodka, gin, tequila, and whiskey all contain no carbs. In addition, light beer and wine can be relatively low in carbs.
Low-carb mixed drinks
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:
- Seltzer: 1 cup (240 ml) contains 0 grams
- Sugar-free tonic water: 1 cup (240 ml) contains 0 grams
- Diet soda: 12 ounces (355-ml) contains 0 grams
Summary: Low-carb mixers like seltzer, sugar-free tonic water, diet soda, and powdered flavor packets can keep your drink’s carb content minimal.
Drinks to avoid on a keto diet
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:
- Margarita: 1 cup (240 ml) contains 13 grams
- Bloody Mary: 1 cup (240 ml) contains 10 grams
- Whiskey sour: 3.5 ounces (105 ml) contains 14 grams
- Sangria: 1 cup (240 ml) contains 27 grams
- Piña colada: 4.5 ounces (133 ml) contains 32 grams
- Cosmopolitan: 3.5 ounces (105 ml) contains 22 grams
- Regular beer: 12 ounces (355-ml) contains 12 grams
Summary: Regular beer, cocktails, and mixed drinks are often high in carbs, loading 10–32 grams per serving. These are best avoided if you’re on a keto diet.
Moderation is important!
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.
Suggested read: Does the ketogenic diet work for weight loss?
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.
Summary: Even low-carb varieties of alcohol can contribute to weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, and adverse health conditions, which is why it’s important to moderate your intake.
Even on a keto diet, there are plenty of low-carb alcoholic beverages to choose from.
Suggested read: The ketogenic diet: A detailed beginner's guide to keto
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.