The weekend arrived, and you went out and had a few alcoholic beverages with your friends. That night of drinking may slow down the rate of ketosis but could also completely derail it, depending on your drink of choice.
Even though alcohol is not a healthy option, it can still be consumed on the keto diet without completely blowing your progress. Moderation is key.
We’ll break down the meaning of ketosis and how alcohol impacts it, best drink options to choose from, and how to get back into ketosis quickly if you’ve fallen out of it.
What it means for your body to be in ketosis
When you are in ketosis, it means that your body is using fat as fuel instead of carbs. Carbs in the form of glucose are the body's preferred fuel source and it will use them until they are no longer available.
- 55 to 65 percent fat
- 30 to 35 percent protein
- 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates.
That means if you eat around 2000 calories per day, your total carb intake will be around 25 to 50 grams.
When carbs start to dwindle your insulin levels drop, and fatty acids get released from your fat stores in large amounts. The majority of these fatty acids are taken to your liver to be turned into ketones (or ketone bodies). This transition into ketones is what is necessary to provide energy for the body in the absence of carbs.
What happens when you drink alcohol?
Alcohol is often considered the fourth macronutrient because it contains 7 calories per gram. Unlike the other three (protein, fat, and carbs), it is not essential for our survival.
Choosing an alcoholic beverage like beer and sweet cocktails will bring you directly out of ketosis due to the sugar and carbs. Depending on how your body processes liquor, even low-carb drinks can slow everything way down.
Your body needs to metabolize alcohol. Therefore, when it’s consumed your liver directs its attention to that instead of fat. It isn’t until all of the alcohol has been processed that your liver will go back to creating ketones. This slows the fat-burning process way down.
Will one night of drinking ruin keto?
If you’re an occasional drinker and choose beverages such as straight liquor or dry wine, you don’t need to worry too much about ruining your progress. It’s when you find yourself drinking often throughout the week or weekend that can slow down the ketosis process due to your liver processing it first.
Another thing to consider is what kind of beverages to choose from. If you’re planning a night out with friends that will consist of a drink or two, opt for the following keto-friendly choices.
Clear liquors that are 40% alcohol by volume (like vodka, gin, scotch, whiskey, brandy, rum, and tequila) do not contain any carbs or sugars on their own.
If you’re not a fan of drinking them on the rocks, choose a mixer that isn’t loaded with sugar such as seltzer or even straight water. Aim to drink non-flavored alcohol as well since it’s quite possible a raspberry or blueberry flavored vodka could contain extra sugar.
We love a good deal, but cheap wine under 10 dollars or in a box isn’t the route you should go if you’re following the keto diet. Beyond quality, get the driest wine you can since they normally contain less sugar per ounce. The standard wine serving size is 5 ounces, so keep that in mind while you pour yourself a glass.
Keto-friendly white wines include:
- Sauvignon blanc (About 3g of carbs per serving)
- Pinot blanc (About 3g of carbs per serving)
- Pinot grigio (About 3g of carbs per serving)
Keto-friendly red wines include:
- Cabernet sauvignon (About 4g of carbs per serving)
- Pinot noir (About 3.5g of carbs per serving)
- Merlot (About 3.75g of carbs per serving)
A new drink of choice that seems to have taken the world by storm is hard seltzers. You may have seen or heard of White Claw, Truly, and now even Bud Light has their own version.
These are alcoholic seltzers typically flavored with natural flavoring and containing small to moderate amounts of carbohydrates. Take a look at the nutrition facts before assuming it fits into your daily carb limit. Some brands can be upward to 5 grams where others are at 2 or below.
How to get back into keto after drinking
Getting back into ketosis may take a few days depending on how much you drank and how your body reacts.
The main step to get back into the swing of things is to focus on your diet. Strictly follow the keto diet with healthy fats, moderate protein, and low carbs. Check out our comprehensive guide and the printable list of keto foods.
And the next time you go out, make a plan and track your macros closely, so you can avoid another slip out of ketosis.