Look we’re all adults and deep down we know that having alcohol to excess is not good for us. It affects sleep, lowers your inhibitions (making snacking and bad food choices more prevalent), and can make you feel really bad the next day (cue the dreaded hangover). That said I, like a lot of others, like a drink or three now and then!
It’s possible to be wise whilst on a ketogenic diet or Intermittent Fasting diet in terms of what alcoholic drinks to choose. Below are my personal choices:
Champagne / Sparkling Wine / Cava
I always assumed that Champagne and other bubblies were packed full of sugar and not a great option for those on a Keto or IF regime. This is partly true as there are bubblies packed full of sugar (think those sweet Prosecco’s or Asti Spumantes from Italy). That said if you stick with the very dry versions (Brut, Extra Brut, Brut Zero etc) they have very few grams of residual sugar (sugar left after the yeast has eaten to produce the alcohol) per 100ml.
I’m a member of The Wine Society in the UK which is a non-profit members wine club (you can join for £20 which you get to use towards your first purchase). They have really great value, great tasting wines and a tool for selecting “bone dry” wines. Below are three of my favourites in this category from The Wine Society:
Wine (White & Red)
Once again – wines can be stacked full of sugar or on the dry side with lower levels. Below is a shorthand guide for choosing whites and reds. Also beware to choose lower alcohol versions as these generally had less sugar to start with. Dry white wines are generally a better choice than dry red wines in terms of residual sugar levels. The levels of carbs below are per 100ml (a small glass of wine is 125ml so adjust up by a ¼):
Keto-friendly, dry white wines include:
- Sauvignon Blanc (1.8g carbs per 100ml)
- Pinot blanc: (1.71g carbs per 100ml)
- Italian pinot grigio (1.8g carbs per 100ml)
Keto-friendly, dry red wines include:
- Cabernet sauvignon (2.25g carbs per 100ml)
- Pinot noir (2.04g carbs per 100ml)
- Merlot (2.22g carbs per 100ml)
Out of The Wine Society wines – below are some good white wine choices that are "Bone Dry". I’ve tasted the Pinot Grigio and it’s very nice:
Spirits / Hard Liquor
Most clear liquors that are around 40 percent alcohol (vodka, whiskey, gin, scotch, brandy, rum and tequila) contain 0 grams of carbs and sugars on their own, which means they’re keto-friendly in moderation when drank on their own. Some top shelf spirits are very palatable neat, or with an ice cube or two, or even some water added. For example - the difference between high quality (sipping) tequila and your average brand is very noticeable.
You can get creative with your mixers by e.g. mixing rum with a bulletproof coffee (use a decaf coffee if you don’t want to be up all night). Another option is lemon or lime juice and soda water. Something I’ve never tried but I believe would be interesting is an extra strong cold fruit tea mixed with a spirit. These can be quite flavourful and have negligible carbs/sugars.
Keep in mind that flavoured alcohols (coconut-flavoured vodka, for instance) can and often do contain extra sugar. Avoid them whenever possible.
I absolutely love beer! I know it’s not the best choice when it comes to keto friendly alcohol (as it does contain carbs) but the levels of residual sugar are very low in most beers (and lower than most wines and spirits served with traditional mixers). Beer also contains a wide range of vitamins etc. This report below brought a smile to my face:
I read somewhere that when they were putting together the Glycaemic index of foods and drinks in Sydney, Australia that they couldn’t add beer as they would need to get volunteers to drink excessive amounts of beer to match the response from the baseline glucose. The authorities wouldn’t approve the level of beers the volunteers needed to drink in a short space of time and the scientists thought it unethical!
I like to choose lower alcohol beers now and failing that I’ll mix some 0.5% or 1% beers with some of my favourite higher alcohol beers to temper the alcohol, carbs and sugar content.
Adnams brewery in the UK has some great low/no alcohol beers like Sole Star 0.9% (2.04g carbs per 100ml). These low alcohol beers can be blended with higher alcohol beers (choose clearer beers like pilsners, and pale ales etc up to 4/4.5%) to create your unique low alcohol version coming in around the 2% mark. I’ve had great success crafting my own tasty 2% beers! I’ve heard that some dry pilsners from Czech and Germany are naturally low in carbs (Holsten Pils has 2.6g carbs per 100ml) as are the super dry Japanese beers, although some of these are high in alcohol than 4/4.5%.
Alternatively, if you choose session ales or mid strength choices such as Brewdog’s Dead Pony Club (around 3.6%) and some of the English Session ales around 3.5% you can be assured these will have lower levels of sugars and carbs. Another great favourite of mine that you can get in Asda is Atom Brewing Company’s - Schrodinger’s Cat at 3.5%. It’s a malty, hoppy brew that you would think was higher in alcohol than 3.5%.
You could choose the low carb beers on the market that are popular in the US, but in my opinion you may as well drink water! Some are OK but most are watery and flavourless. It’s more fun to craft your own at home!