Most significant detriments of almost every diet (and by diet I mean the foods you eat long term, not some bizarre fad, like eating only when you sneeze or something), is because they lack an approach to alcohol.
We, humans, literally evolved to drink alcohol. This may sound weird, but is true. According to a paper published by the researcher Jyrki Tillonen, the average human digestive system produces approximately 3g of ethanol (alcohol) per day through fermentation of its gastrointestinal contents.
Simply put, booze is part of life, it doesn’t matter how strictly teetotaler one may be. Now, what about booze and diet? Can I get fit and have my weekend drink?
Do Alcohol Calories Count?
Calories in alcohol (ethanol) don’t work such as as calories in food. The metabolism of alcohol occurs mostly in the liver and kidneys. It’s a multi-stage process that transforms methanol first into acetaldehyde, then in acetic acid and then into acetyl-CoA. From this process, only Acetyl-CoA is actually used as “cellular food”, and only Acetyl-CoA actually produces cellular energy, which might or might not be converted into that pot belly everyone wants to avoid. The catch here, is that we expel significant amounts of the acetic acid through urine, long before it has time to become Acetyl-CoA, long before the ethanol can actually be absorbed as calories.
But how much alcohol is actually metabolized into fat? Simple truth: no one knows exactly. It depends on your genetics, if you had a good sleep, if you are dully hydrated, the local temperature and humidity and even your emotional state.
Usually there are some conflicting information regarding this. Medical practitioners and chemists swear by this science, which is proved time and time again. However, most nutritionists were trained otherwise in college, to assume that all the energy stored in alcohol is available to the body.
To understand why nutritionists were told to disagree with this part of science, we have understand their profession. Most people who actually visit a nutritionist want to shed weight, so it is more profitable for the nutritionist to err in the side of less calories, creating unnecessary extra restrictions on the client’s diet, thus making the results appear faster, and thus making more money. Also, this policy helps avoid the risks of a booze-fueled binge eating, which might be the true monster in the diet.
In good and clear English, when researchers tried to see whether booze makes you fat, their answer translated to: “we don’t know.” Not very helpful, right?
So, can I drink alcohol on keto or not?
Short answer? Yes You can. With moderation.
The ketogenic diet means carbohydrate restriction for your body to create ketones and metabolize fat. Pure ethanol does not have a single carb, so very easy break the keto cycle.
Ok, that may be misleading. Let’s expand this and tackle some extra information that is actually extremely important.
There’s no such thing as “pure ethanol” safe for drinking. What we have are beers, wines, liquors and spirits, and many actually do have carbs. Beer is not called “liquid bread” idly and nearly all sweet liquors possess unhealthy amounts of sugar.
If you need to stay in ketosis, loosing fat while enjoying the occasional drink, you will possess two options, either you go searching for zero carb beverages, pure spirits such as whiskey, vodka or gin, or you count your macronutrients. All of them. Yes, including each drop of that fancy liqueur you got for birthday. If it fit your macros (IIFYM) you might have whatever you want. Don’t worry, once you begin to count your macros, you will drink that sweet stuff by the drop…
Liquor with 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof) or higher will typically have 0 grams net carbs , a serving of a good quality dry red wine has around four grams of carbs. If you absolutely have to have a carbonated soda with your drink, ensure it is sugar-free.
The keto hangover
A keto diet could make you get drunk faster. For metabolization purposes, carbs compete with alcohol, meaning that eating a carb-heavy meal will slow down the absorption of alcohol in your body. Since the whole point of keto is not to eat carbs , gone will be the competition in the metabolization of alcohol, making you drunk faster – and with a lower intake.
For the moderate drinker, which is the only change, easily counterbalanced by slowing down. However, for the binge drinker, the guy or gal who enjoys getting hammered, these guys will fully understand the meaning of hammered when they feel like their heads are being hit by mauls the next day.
Keep in mind that all that booze that was absorbed faster was metabolized faster. If you aren’t hydrated, all the byproducts of the alcohol metabolization will have a harder time leaving your body through urine, exponentially increasing the probability of a nasty hangover. If you aren’t sufficiently hydrated, it is likely that you’re going to wake up smelling like a pickle, because you will literally sweat the acetic acid from methanol metabolization.
The good news for keto drinking
So, summarizing, you can safely drink on keto diet .As long as things are in moderation, meaning one drink for women and two for men, and as long as your drink of choice is a low-carb one. Drinking could make you gain weight, but the culprit is most likely the snacks you have with your booze than your booze, so be reasonable when snacking.
Whew. For every whiskey lover on a keto diet out there (such as me), that is the huge relief. What about you? Please leave your comments below and let’s have a scientific discussion while enjoying some refreshments. Cheers!