DRINKING BOOZE ON KETO, THE RIGHT WAY
The “HOW” in How to drink alcohol on keto doesn’t refer to the correct stemware, nor does it mean those silly binge drinking contraptions from college (Beer bongs? What were we thinking?). “HOW,” here, is meant to teach you the right way to enjoy a few adult beverage while staying true to the keto mantra of low carb.
FIRST, SOME SCIENCE
Just so we all understand how this works, here is a simple break down of the way alcohol effects keto. First, a hard truth: alcohol is a poison as far as your body is concerned. But your liver is amazing at processing that fun, alcohol poison –hence all the liver jokes when you overindulge- and it’s very good at prioritizing. Your liver, the over-worked data entry clerk, is constantly being bombarded by the many things we eat and drink, and a big part the job is deciding what gets processed first. Thankfully, good guy liver is always looking out for you and puts driving poison out of your body as job #1, most important, stop everything else. However, the liver is also the one that takes on the fat oxidization process that creates those fairydust-like ketones that ketoers love and live for.
So what’s really being said here? Drinking alcohol will delay the fat burning until all of the booze you imbibe is processed out. Drinking won’t kick you out of keto if you’re careful about the carbs, but it does hit the pause button and stop the fat burn for a while. How long? These charts are a good guide to help you figure out how long it takes to burn the booze.
ALCOHOL ON KETO CAUTION
You will get drunk MUCH faster on keto, so be careful! When your liver pauses your ketone production to process the alcohol, it’s stopping your source of energy. You must now, briefly, switch back over to your stored energy in the form of glycogen. But guess what, the liver handles that stuff as well, and now that you’ve been on keto, you have less glycogen stored which means the booze is going to absorb quicker and hit you faster.
The long and the short is to have fun but anticipate your tolerance having gone down. Uber is your friend in situations like this.
THE GOOD, THE NOT BAD, AND THE UGLY
Ok, professor Keto, is class over yet? Are you going to tell me how to do this or what? Well first let’s look at the way glucose and atmospheric pressures… I’m kidding. Here we go.
Your best friend on keto is hard alcohol: Whiskey (whisky if you’re Scottish), Vodkas, Tequila, Gin, Light Rums. Here is a great list of acceptable alcohols, their carb counts and their calorie content. Most distilled spirits are good for keto. Where you need to watch out is what they’re mixed with. Most mixers take the edge off of hard A by adding sweet, which means sugar. So be wary of what you add to your drink as you might be turning a zero carb drink into a 60 carb cocktail.
Reds, whites, dry, sweet: wine is amazing in its variety and ability to lend flavor to food. True foodies should never be asked to give up wine, and keto foodies don’t have to. Be cautious though, Reds tend to run about 3-5 carbs per glass and in the 120 calorie range. Whites, especially sweets like Rieslings and Muscatos, carry a higher sugar content, around 4-7 carbs. Enjoy your vino, just maybe not a whole bottle at a time.
Notice this one doesn’t have the exclamation point? That’s because beer is not here to help. Beer is basically liquid bread. The average, mass appeal beers carry a hefty carb price tag at an average of 10-12 carbs per 12oz. can and around 150 calories. But is gets worse. Micro brews are very popular and getting more so by the day. The problem is that those IPAs and Double IPAs and Stouts and Lagers and all the rest, they start at around 18-20 carbs a piece and can go as high as 25-30! And their calories counts hover around 200 per bottle, some as high as 350! There are some light beers out there that have carb counts in the 5-7 range if you’re feeling like you absolutely have to have a brew. Just remember to keep it at ONE. Simple math tells you that a six pack of any beer is enough to kick you out of ketosis.
THE SIDE EFFECTS OF KETO & DRINKING
Aside from feeling the alcohol hit you faster and the screeching halt your liver puts on ketone production, there are a few other things to look out for. Alcohol consumption has been known to create hunger. Who among us hasn’t had the drunken 3 a.m. burrito stop that turned into a burrito, two tacos, a quesadilla, chips, and a churro? Booze makes you think you’re hungry. Couple your hunger with another side effect of drinking, lowered inhibitions, and you’ve got yourself a slight problem. After a few drinks that you were careful to keep track of, counting their carbs to stay below your limit, you’ve found yourself drunk far faster than usual. Suddenly, searching for a midnight pie eating contest becomes your sole focus and you’ve convinced yourself that you could take on those professional hot dog eating folks… minus soaking the buns in water, yuck. Drunk hunger can easily become a few hundred carbs and a keto restart. Ugh.
The best way to combat this is to have a plan. Remain conscious of your goals and carb count so you don’t accidentally slip up. Keep track with a keto macro calculator.
Water is already a major part of the keto lifestyle. Hydration and sodium play vital roles in the body’s ability to create the ketones that run our inner power plants. Alcohol actually saps you of hydration. It’s recommended that everyone, but especially ketoers, match alcoholic beverages 1 for 1 with glasses of water. This will keep you from dehydrating and having to play catch up. If you are properly hydrated, your body can kick back into fat burn mode much faster after a night of drinks.
THE DREADED HANGOVER
Most ketoers report having worse hangovers while on keto. But it’s not keto’s fault! Many keoters who go out for a night of drinks substitute the calories in their drinks for real food. You need to eat when you drink; you need the sodium, and to have something there for fuel when the alcohol is burned off. Top all that off with the water we discussed above and you can avoid the hangover all together.
Alcohol is a social lubricant and when everyone else is enjoying a drink it can leave you feeling anti-social not to have one too. Enjoying a few drinks while on keto is absolutely fine as long as you are mindful of your goals as you do the enjoying. Come join us at the niketo restaurant bar and we’ll help you stay on target with keto approved cocktails!
So eat (good fat), drink (low carb), and be merry!