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Can I Drink Alcohol on Ketogenic Diet

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Admit it.

You’ve thought about downing a few drinks while you’re on a keto diet. You heard there is some low-carb ones out there. Maybe even ones with no carbohydrates.

In fact, you’ve already imagined yourself picking up the glass and swirling your drink around.

You can smell the aroma. Taste the liquor practically before it’s even touched your lips.

When you imagine how good you’ll feel after just a few drinks, a small twinge of guilt sets in. Because you’re not 100 percent sure if drinking alcohol is really keto-friendly.

You badly want the weight loss you know is possible on a low-carb ketogenic diet. You also want the health benefits from being in ketosis that you know await you. Surely a couple of drinks while you’re on keto won’t hurt. Especially if they're low-carb or better yet, have no carbohydrates.

I mean everyone gets a cheat day, right? You should be able to have alcohol on a ketogenic diet, as long as it's not full of carbohydrates and you're still producing ketones.

But how do you stay safe on keto, and in ketosis, when you drink alcohol? Even low-carb or no carbohydrate liquor that seems to be keto-friendly?

The answer is: you can’t.

Let’s break it down.

Alcohol’s Grim Effects

Unlike beer and wine, some hard liquor has no carbs. When people discover this, that’s when they ask me if they can drink it on a keto diet. They think since there are no carbs, it must be okay.

Even the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) says one drink a day for women, two for men, is fine. So it can’t be that bad. That’s drinking in moderation. And there’s probably certain anti-oxidants in the alcohol. Maybe it’s even good for you!

Not so fast.

Alcohol comes with a whole host of terrible effects on your body, such as:

It kills liver cells. Your liver performs many important functions, including detoxifying your blood and making vital nutrients that your body needs.

Alcohol consumption can lead to fatty liver disease, which is what happens when fat builds up on the liver because it can no longer break down fats for absorption. Having a little fat on the liver is normal - even healthy - but when fat makes up 5 to 10 percent or more of the liver’s total weight, it’s a sign of fatty liver disease.

Your liver is the second largest organ in your body. Its cells can regenerate themselves if they’re damaged. However, if they’re too damaged, your liver won’t be able to maintain its functionality.

Over 90 percent of alcoholics have a fatty liver. A fatty liver leads to inflammation, then fibrosis, and finally scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis.

Once cirrhosis sets in, I think it’s nearly impossible to reverse it. So you definitely don’t want the fatty liver disease to get to the point of cirrhosis. The good news is, if your liver isn’t too damaged, you can repair it

fatty liver disease written on a chalkboard

Additionally, alcohol inhibits the absorption of vital nutrients such as thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc. These nutrients are crucial because:

  • Thiamin (vitamin B1) supports the metabolism of proteins and fat along with the formation of hemoglobin in your blood.
  • Vitamin B12 is essential to good health. It helps maintain healthy red blood and nerve cells.
  • Folic acid is involved in the formation of new cells. A lack of it can cause a reduction in your body’s capacity to carry oxygen.
  • Zinc is essential to your energy metabolism.

Alcohol dehydrates you. Dehydration is the term used to describe an imbalance between your body’s fluid needs and fluid loss: when more fluid is lost than is required for normal body functions, dehydration can occur. Symptoms include feeling thirsty, dizzy or weak. Some people may notice that their eyes or mouth feel unusually dry.

Dehydration can lead to a loss of strength and stamina and is the main cause of heat exhaustion. If dehydration is ongoing (chronic), it can affect your kidney function and increase your risk of kidney stones.

And, in some ways worst of all, if you’re on keto for weight loss, it blocks fat burning!

overweight woman holding a scale

For example, let’s say it’s Friday night and you decide to drink with friends. There’s nothing wrong with having fun - just realize you’re not going to burn fat for about the next 48 hours.

And The Answer Is…

By now you probably know the answer I’m going to give to the question, “Can I drink while I’m doing keto?”


Of course, you can drink alcohol while on keto...

As long as you’re willing to risk the effects I’ve described - including not burning fat for several days.

I know alcohol is woven into the fabric of our lives. Parties, family gatherings, sporting events. And I’m not suggesting life on keto has to be one of deprivation. You don’t want to be the person self-consciously refusing drinks at the party or backyard barbeque.

But if you’ve made a commitment to yourself to get healthy and lose weight, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth jeopardizing your commitment for a few drinks.

Are You Ready To Honor Your Commitment To Yourself?

Lots of temptations are lurking out there to trip you up on the path to keto success.

But alcohol doesn’t have to be one of them.

When you remind yourself why you’re on your keto diet journey - weight loss, improved health, even the potential to live a longer happier life - it’s easier to swap out the cocktail for sparkling water with a twist of lemon.

Then you can wake up the next morning knowing you’ve kept your commitment.

You’ve chosen long-term health and vitality over a few minutes of sipping a drink.

So you’re going to honor yourself, right?

Next time you’re out and someone offers you a drink, you’ll graciously decline you don’t have to make a big deal about it or launch into a long explanation. Just smile and say no thanks.

Because in just a month or two, you could easily have lost a significant amount of weight … enough to supercharge your motivation, boost your health, or draw admiring comments from your loved ones.

Sounds good, right?

So stick with your keto diet and ditch the alcohol. You'll be glad you did.

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