Worldwide, the keto diet has become known as an effective weight loss nutrition. However, does it allow room to let loose with alcohol? Adam Reeve, professional personal trainer, life coach and wellness writer walks us through the options.
The keto diet is a nutritional system that demands a sharp restriction in the daily carbohydrates intake. This is not only relevant for food, but also holds for drinks. Whether it is a special occasion, a celebration or you simply want to unwind, alcohol often feels impossible to abandon completely. Luckily, there are plenty of Keto friendly options to explore.
What exactly is a ketogenic diet?
A keto diet is based on the maximum reduction, if not complete elimination, of carbohydrates in one’s diet. Protein intake remains standard while the amount of lipids in the diet is increased. The aim of a ketogenic diet is to enter a state of ketosis. In a ketogenic state the body primarily uses fat stores as energy, as opposed to carbohydrates. When an individual stops eating carbohydrates, their liver actively begins to produce more glycerin and fatty acids. These components then form ketone bodies which fuel the brain and body. The body transitions from a glycolysis process to a lipolysis process which is the breakdown of fats. As a result, individuals on a ketogenic diet often experience weight loss results quite rapidly. Studies have shown that this will eventually peter out at around 12 months.
The keto diet and alcohol
Alcohol is very rich in carbohydrates and drinking can be counterproductive to a keto diet. Even though many strong drinks are low in carbohydrates, it is not recommended consuming them during a diet for several reasons:
● As a result of a complete change in diet, a person’s metabolism changes. This can lead to feeling drunk quicker, sometimes even from a single glass of wine!
● Reviews indicate that hangovers become more pronounced. To avoid this and remain hydrated balance each alcoholic drink out with a glass of water.
● Alcohol stimulates the appetite and in a state of intoxication, it is more challenging to ignore cravings and avoid high calorie foods like chocolate and pizza.
● Sadly, alcohol slows down metabolic processes which means that any progress made may slow down temporarily.
● Alcohol also contributes to water retention in the body. Therefore, due to fluid accumulation in the soft tissues, in the days following drinking, your weight may increase
However, if you find cutting out alcohol difficult to avoid, try sticking to spirits. They tend to be the lowest in calories. Additionally, they do not swing your insulin and blood sugar levels as drastically as other drinks such as beer.
Here is a quick overview of some keto-friendly alcoholic drinks:
● Straight spirits: pure vodka, gin, tequila, rum and whiskey.
● Wine: dry red wines, dry white wine, and unsweetened champagne. They usually contain 4-5 grams of net carbs per 140 grams.
Alcoholic drinks to avoid:
● Flavored alcohols and alcopops
● Port and Sherry
● Dessert wines
Which cocktails can you drink?
You should aim for cocktails that totally avoid syrups and juices. Instead opt for ones that combine a mix of straight alcohols for example Martinis. When drinking out, make sure to ask your bartender for all the ingredients in your cocktail of choice before ordering.
What about long drinks?
With regards to long drinks, often served in highballs, stay away from soft drinks and instead dilute with sparkling water or sugar free soft drinks or energy drinks. Always read the composition of ingredients on the drinks labels.
Here are two of our favourite Keto Cocktails:
This classic cocktail lends itself perfectly to Keto as the combination of ingredients add up to very few carbohydrates. With a very short ingredient list of primarily gin and lime it is super simple but super refreshing! Combine 50ml of gin with 25ml fresh squeezed lime juice and 10ml keto-friendly syrup in a Boston shaker with plenty of ice. Shake until the outside is frozen and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a wheel of lime.
Grapefruit Ginger Fizz
This zingy and refreshing cocktail is the perfect balance of sweet and sour and has the added benefit of some immune boosting ginger to counteract the alcohol….
In a Boston shaker muddle 2cm piece of fresh ginger, 3 basil leaves and a lick of grapefruit peel. Add in a shot of gin and 2 tablespoons of keto simple syrup and shake with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into a highball over ice and top up with the juice from half the grapefruit and soda water. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit and a basil leaf.
Top tip: To make the Keto syrup dissolve your favourite sweetener in warm water in a saucepan until it reaches the desired sweetness. Add a pinch of Xanthan gum and whisk thoroughly to achieve viscosity. You can infuse your syrup with anything you like to create an infinite array of interesting cocktails.