Drinking alcohol is a red flag for keto dieters, since not only does alcohol provide empty calories and zero nutrition, but also it can lead to water retention and bloating, increase cravings for sweets and greasy foods, spike hunger, hinder sleep quality and lead to weight gain over time, if you’re consuming more calories than you’re used to and should for your body type and dietary needs.
Of course, the best way to succeed on the keto diet is by eliminating obstacles, like alcohol and its effects on the body and its hormones. You should keep alcohol intake to a minimum at least, where it’s reserved for special occasions or for one night in the week, depending on your goals—at least while you’re dieting and are on the keto diet for short-term, quick results.
Besides keeping booze in moderation, you also want to choose your beverages wisely, since some alcoholic drinks and popular cocktails are more keto-friendly than others. So, some might be totally off-limits and are sugar and calorie bombs in disguise—these will definitely kick you out of ketosis and will also likely trigger cravings for more sweets, too.
Unfortunately, when you’re in the mood for a cocktail with more flavor or sweetness, you may be tempted to splurge and go off keto, such as when you’re on vacation, and a frozen daiquiri keeps calling your name. If you are willing to risk it, at least know that there are a few diet-doozy cocktails that are never going to be keto-friendly in the way they’re prepared.
Luckily, you can find slimmed-down recipes with low-carb tweaks that make them keto approved from your favorite keto bloggers—so it’s possible to satisfy that sweet tooth or craving when you’re preparing a drink yourself at home. However, say goodbye to these drinks on the menu when you’re out, since these alcoholic drinks are the worst offenders.
Frozen Daiquiris and Margaritas
Pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris taste amazing as you relax on the beach or take a dip in the pool during those warmer months and for when you’re vacationing at a resort. And a frozen watermelon or mango margarita with a salted rim can easily help you polish off that last bit of guacamole dip.
The same goes for non-frozen margaritas too though, since these also often use simple syrup as well as a sour mix that’s carbohydrate, sugar and sodium laden and will dehydrate you quickly, too. (Dehydration is also a keto side effect, so you want to boost hydration by drinking plenty of water and electrolytes, as well as limiting dehydrating substances, in general too.)
Unfortunately, these frozen drinks and margaritas—whether frozen or not—are among the worst drinks to have on keto. They’re fruity, have various sweet and sour mixes as components, and may have additional syrups and added sugars. Sour mix is high in sugar, despite being so tart—and like all mixes, it’s high in carbs, calories, sugar and sodium.
Lastly, the main issue too is that daiquiris and margaritas go down easily and quickly, where you lose track of count and end up tossing back a few rounds. (Nobody sticks with just one of these, right? And just one is enough to kick you out of ketosis—either way, it’s not good.)
Long Island Iced Tea
A hint? When there are more kinds of liquors present, the carbs, sugars and calories go up too. So, if you see a drink that has 3+ liquors in it, it’s going to be off the list for keto dieters, for sure, and a Long Island Iced Tea is a popular, refreshing cocktail that may taste great going down but will prevent you from burning fat or losing weight on keto. Unsweetened tea could be a nice component for a cocktail, as long as those sugars and carbs are low.
Rum-based cocktails tend to be fruity and sweet by nature, so mai tais, mojitos and other kinds of tropical rum-based alcoholic drinks should be avoided when you’re drinking alcohol and are keto. These tend to have lots of fruity elements and a few liquors also, which happen to be on the sugary side, too.
Creamy makes you think of fat, which might be deceiving—creamy cocktails are not keto approved, as the source of creaminess is likely going to be high in sugar and carbs, as well as more saturated fats, rather than unsaturated, heart-healthy fats, which are preferable and good for you, as the primary way to meet macronutrient fat requirements when keto.
Espresso martinis and other spiked coffee drinks, sweet dessert-like cocktails that use a chocolate or white chocolate flavored liquors, spiked peppermint mochas, eggnogs, white Russian cocktails and of course, pumpkin spice flavored boozy drinks—these are all treats and are going to be more like dessert in a cup with sky-high counts for saturated fat, calories, sugar and carbs.
Basically, if it’s rich and creamy with delicious-sounding ingredients, liquors or flavors, which may seem “festive” or decadent and sweet-sounding by nature, consider it a major red flag and a keto diet no-go. Plus, they’re also bad for your blood sugar and heart, and drinking too many of these drinks can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as weight gain and bloating regardless of keto.
How to Drink Alcohol When Keto
If you are going to indulge in a cocktail or two, either look online and make a low-carb and keto approved “makeover” recipe of the drink you’re looking for (there are a bunch you can find online from keto bloggers and those with low-carb lifestyles!) or stick with the basics: hard liquor on the rocks, with optional water or soda water—no simple syrups, juices, muddled fruit, sugar-infused liquors or creamy liquors, flavored milks and syrups.
A rule of thumb? It’s safe to just choose purely unsweetened liquor on the rocks or in a shot, as well as with plain water or seltzer. Don’t add in all the garnishes and pizzaz—keep it minimal in ingredients and free of sugar.