Changing up any routine can be challenging if you’re a creature of habit, but even if you’re not someone who abides by an unwavering schedule, something like switching up your eating habits can be grueling on your stomach, if not your sanity, at least at first. Your body is accustomed to a certain kind of fuel, and when you go from, say, high-carb to no-carb, there’s going to be an adjustment period. Plus, your habits in the kitchen inevitably bleed into your social life, too. For instance, technically you can drink on the keto diet, but it’s really up to you whether or not a few boozy hours are worth interfering with the process your body has worked so hard to perfect.
On the off-chance you’re not in-the-know about keto, here’s how it works: Your body’s main energy source is glucose, which is the sugar extracted from carbohydrates like breads, pasta, cereals, and fruit. When you make the switch to a ketogenic way of eating, however, you’re eating very little carbs, if not eliminating them altogether. As a result, your body looks to obtain its energy elsewhere, and according to health and wellness practitioner Richard Purvis, it does this by ketosis, aka burning stored fat for fuel, he tells Elite Daily.
It's fascinating that your anatomy just knows inherently that, if glucose isn’t coming in, fat’s the way to go for fuel. But, impressive as this all is, the initial switch does take time. For example, imagine being right-handed your entire life, and then having to suddenly function only with your left hand. It would be quite a struggle at first, right? Well, once your body figures out how to navigate this new primary energy source, you want to keep it on track as much as you can. Drinking alcohol won’t exactly erase all its progress, but it’s not exactly going to help it, either.
You can drink alcohol on the keto diet, but it might throw your body off in a few different ways.
Let me just say this first, though: As is the case whenever you find yourself debating whether or not you should drink, no one can tell you not to. Your body is completely your own, so if your friends invite you to happy hour and you genuinely want to join in, do you, girlfriend. But, if you are following a keto-friendly meal plan, keep in mind that alcohol is going to have an effect on the ketosis method. So here’s where things can get a little confusing: According to Atkins nutritionist Colette Heimowitz, drinking alcohol isn’t going to stop ketosis altogether.
“The liver can make ketones out of alcohol,” she tells Elite Daily. “So technically, when you drink, you'll continue to produce ketones and [thus] will remain in ketosis.” In other words, having one glass of wine isn’t going to erase all the progress your body’s made in its transition. It will, however, take things down a notch.
There’s a reason why it’s called “intoxication,” friends: because alcohol is a toxin, and what does your body do when it comes in contact with a toxin? It sounds the alarm for every free resource in your anatomy to help your liver process the substance ASAP. This is all good and well, but the problem is, if your entire body is taking care of your liver, your metabolism, Purvis tells Elite Daily, is put on hold.
"The liver will start to process alcohol as quickly as possible," he explains, "which means it is used by the body before all other nutrients, including fat, so it slows the process of converting fatty acids to ketones." What this also means, Purvis notes, is, because your body is running on healthy fats, not weighty carbs and glucose, the alcohol's going to hit you harder and faster. In other words, your tolerance is lowered, and you'll be feeling all the effects sooner than you're used to. It's certainly a trip, and maybe not one you feel like taking at a casual post-work happy hour, know what I mean?
If giving up alcohol altogether isn't something you want to do, though, some beverages are easier on ketosis than others.
Listen, I’m not here to tell you what to do, and no one can. As long as you’re aware that drinking alcohol will slow down ketosis to some extent, then I’ve done my job. Whether or not that's worth it is totally up to you, but there is some light at the end of this tunnel: Just because you’re keto doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go 100 percent without alcohol. According to keto-diet expert and dietitian for keto-friendly, natural sugar replacement Swerve Sweetener, Amy Davis, RDN, some types of booze are better than others.
“If you choose your alcohol wisely and responsibly, you can enjoy a buzz here and there while following a keto diet,” Davis tells Elite Daily.
The booze that's best to avoid, she says, include things like beer, certain wines, and cocktails high in sugar content and/or artificial flavors, because the overly sweet stuff can stop the ketosis process altogether. Low-carb beers and certain wines like pinot noir, champagne and prosecco, on the other hand, are OK by Davis’ book. As for cocktails, she says you can still channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw with pretty colored drinks, just as long as they’re sweetened with something natural.
“Swerve is a natural sugar replacement that has zero effect on blood sugar, so it’s a favorite among keto dieters,” she says, suggesting alternatives like this classic margarita made with Swerve, or a rhubarb gin fizz.
So, can you drink on a keto diet? Yes, you can. Should you drink on a keto diet? Well, that's up to your discretion. Only you know what's best for your body, but if you do decide to raise a glass when you're following this diet, keep in mind how certain spirits affect your body (in terms of ketosis, and in general), then make an executive decision from there. Drink up, or don't. Either way, cheers, friends!