Alcohol on Keto Diet

alcohol on keto diet

The keto diet is a hormonal and metabolic diet where it is not only important to have high ketone bodies or count calories but it is more important to have insulin on the bottom, glucagon on top, growth hormone on top, and stress hormones (cortisol and catecholamine) below, we can see this in this triangle:

  • Insulin down

  • Glucagon up

  • Growth hormone top

  • Happy life – Avoid Stress

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A low level of stress is very important and it is the base on which we build everything, because you could boost all that hormonal balance but if you are stressed you will not have all the health benefits nor will you lose weight, so to have the best results we must have strengthened all the axes of this scheme.

However, as social human beings, we always have invitations to meetings or parties and if you are in the keto lifestyle you are probably wondering what you can eat and what you can have at a party. For example, it is a very common question what alcoholic beverages you can drink and in this article we are going to talk about it mainly, about alcohol in the keto diet.

Many may think that most alcoholic beverages do not have carbohydrates, however, this is not the main point, since we must consider that from a medical point of view alcohol is toxic and in fact, due to this it was prohibited in many places including the US until 1933 (Dry Law), this had existed because it was observed that alcohol could be the source of multiple human conflicts, however, the emergence of illegal traffic and the mafias around it were worse because it was still in demand but the environment to achieve it had become dangerous, so it was better proceeded to legalize it. However, the fact that it is legalized does not mean that it is entirely healthy.

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The alcohol that humans normally consume is a substance that has ethanol (ethyl alcohol), hence two types are given off, fermented and distilled. And in themselves this type of alcohol does not contain carbohydrates and that is why many think that they are keto, for example whiskey only has 2g of carbohydrates per serving, beer 1g and wine 2g, and even drinks such as gin or vodka are 0% carbohydrates, this is logical because the essence of an alcoholic drink is that it has ethyl alcohol and no carbohydrates. The problem with ethanol or ethyl alcohol is that it is the second most caloric substance that we could find, the first is fats with 9 kilocalories per gram and hence alcohols are in second place with 7 kilocalories per gram and the third most caloric are carbohydrates.

Another difference is that fats and carbohydrates are energy substrates, this means that they are capable of being part of the Krebs cycle and producing energy, but alcohol, although it has so many calories, is not an energy substrate, it is not capable of entering the cycle of Krebs and does not produce energy but the excess calories that are not occupied at the moment, will directly be converted into fat.

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Beer is a fermented drink. It only has 2 grams of carbohydrates, but it has 20 to 30 grams of alcohol and remember that it has at least 7 kilocalories per gram of alcohol that is up to 210 kilocalories. So if you had four beers, it would be about 840 kilocalories, and although the Keto diet is not a calorie diet, the disadvantage of these is that they do not produce energy and in fact the day after its consumption you will tend to feel tired and without energy. So those 840 kilocalories did not give you energy and will be converted into abdominal fat because alcohol inhibits the meta-oxidation of fats and causes all calories to be converted into fat.


Whiskey is a distillate of alcohol, it is distilled from a fermented (fermented barley, wheat, potato, etc), distillates have more than 30% alcohol, in the case of whiskey it can be 40% and then a small 100 ml drink can contain 40 grams of alcohol and if multiplied by 7 calories per gram, it means that such a small drink has 280 kilocalories, and these cannot be immediately converted into energy, so they enter the liver and become fat, that is why alcoholics have a high incidence of fatty liver. So if you are going to drink whiskey and if for example at a Christmas dinner you had half a bottle of whiskey, that would be equivalent to about 1400 calories from alcohol and you should be aware that the next day your body fat will increase and it is likely that you will also gain weight .

Now it should be mentioned that alcohol does not take you out of ketosis, on the contrary, alcohol makes you in ketosis because alcohol is a toxic that is metabolized to acetaldehyde and the liver concentrates the next 36 hours in trying to remove the alcohol in your body and slows down all metabolism and stops all fat burning to only focus on getting the alcohol out of your body, and in this process the acetaldehyde turns into acetate and therefore you continue in ketosis, but it is not about a metabolic ketosis but a toxic ketogenesis.

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Ultimately, if you decide to incorporate something for a toast, it would be recommended to avoid distillates since they contain more concentrated alcohol, that is, avoid: vodka, whiskey, gin or tequila and other distillates, because although they do not have carbohydrates they do have alcohol in them. large proportions (more than 40%) and this will have repercussions on your metabolism, will encourage it and will make you accumulate fat. Likewise, if you decide to have something at a celebration, you should also avoid beer because its combination of alcohol and barley makes it highly caloric and causes interference in your metabolism.

Of course, drinks with combinations of alcohol and sugar such as champagne, baileys khalua or cocktails and drinks prepared with syrups, soft drinks or juices, as well as light drinks, as sweeteners, although they do not have calories, do activate the insulin and take us out of our keto metabolic state.


In this case, fermented ones are preferable and more crystalline ones such as red wine, white wine, rosé wine (if they are dry or semi-dry better) and in moderation, perhaps a maximum of three glasses in one night for example since we have to take into account that they will also be high in calories.

In summary, if you decide to drink alcohol, you have to be aware that for two or three days your metabolism will slow down, there will be toxicity in your brain, your liver will focus on eliminating alcohol, your body will stop burning fat in your favor, that you will accumulate weight and fat and you will probably have to re-adapt to the keto lifestyle during those days.

It is also worth mentioning that alcohol activates insulin, which is something that in the keto diet we want to avoid, this activation of insulin increases the propensity to accumulate fat in your body and is a very frequent cause of accumulation of abdominal fat.

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Alcohol and the Krebs cycle.

The problem with Ethanol or ethyl alcohol, which is the one in the alcoholic beverages that we consume as humans, is that it is full of empty calories, this means that energy cannot be obtained directly from them nor do they enter the Krebs cycle.

The foods that do enter the krebs cycle are fats that produce acetyl coenzyme A and produce energy, and, although sugar has other characteristics that make it not so healthy, it also enters the krebs cycle and produces energy.

However, in the case of Ethanol we can observe at the beginning that people in an ethyl state do not see themselves full of energy and, on the contrary, they see themselves decayed, this is because ethyl alcohol gets us into two problems at the metabolic level:

1.Inhibits Leptin. Leptin is the satiety hormone, which helps you feel full and not overeat, and alcohol inhibits it, which is why many times people who already drink are always hungry and are eating snacks, which can further promote accumulation of fat and gain weight especially in terms of abdominal fat.

2. Activate Insulin. This characteristic makes it the perfect ally of obesity, since the relationship of insulin with the accumulation of fat and other unfavorable situations in the body is known. Above all, you have to be very careful if it is an alcoholic beverage that also contains sugars, which would enhance this situation and also cause fat to tend not only to accumulate in the abdominal area but throughout the body in general.

So this combination of inhibiting leptin and activating insulin becomes a perfect pump combination to accumulate fat, which for health, it would be preferable to avoid.

What happens when you drink alcohol on a keto diet?

During your keto diet the main objective is to maintain a perfect hormonal balance, in which we already mentioned insulin must be low, glucagon high, growth hormone high and your body under this scheme must be able to become an efficient burning machine grease. However, suppose you have a beer, what happens? Well, the first thing that happens is that directly from the intestines the alcohol makes its way directly to your brain and bloodstream and begins to disorder especially your neuronal functions (disinhibition effect, relaxation, etc.), this effect is an effect that the liver detects how toxic and then something quite serious happens which is the liver stops all the metabolic rate that it had been developing, to pay attention to this toxic effect, from then on in the next 24 to 36 hours your main objective will be to get rid of that ethanol that has entered your body.

When alcohol reaches the liver, there is an enzyme that is responsible for metabolizing it, alcohol dehydrogenase that forms acetaldehyde (which is the substance that causes the hangover later), however it must be considered that the liver cannot metabolize more than 30ml of ethanol per hour, for example if you drank 600ml of alcohol then it would take your body 20 hours to metabolize the alcohol, and it is during this time that hangover symptoms are more present due to the high presence of acetaldehyde that is accumulating, which it can be more toxic than alcohol itself (20 times more toxic), it can be carcinogenic, and it affects DNA. (

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Now this acetaldehyde by the action of another enzyme (acetadehyde dehydrogenase) is converted into acetate, but in the process NADH + H (hydrogen ions) are produced that have other chemical effects in the blood that can be described in a general way as acidification, in addition to the fact that This entire metabolic process ends up not being able to gather all the elements for an appropriate cycle of krebs, so we end up again without having energy. In addition, this increase in hydrogen ions causes that fats cannot be metabolized, that you cannot take them as a source of energy and therefore even if you are keto, after drinking alcohol, the next day you will not be able to use your body fat and although you could keep your Ketogenic state, this state no longer maintains the body hormonal balance that we have mentioned, but would be of alcoholic origin.

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  1. Alcohol and Keto Diet: Yes you produce ketone bodies and you are still “keto” but you will break your metabolic balance and tend to accumulate body fat and gain weight.

  2. Alcohol does not have carbohydrates but it does have ethanol, which has twice the calories of sugars.

  3. Calories derived from ethyl alcohol do not produce energy (they do not enter the Krebs cycle)

  4. Alcohol is difficult for the liver to metabolize and will tend to accumulate causing other havoc in your body including preventing the metabolism of fats.

  5. After consuming alcohol, you will have to wait for the body to metabolize it and readjust to the keto style to regain a healthy hormonal balance.

  6. If you decide that you are going to drink it at a party, celebration or social gathering and you are on the keto diet, avoid distilled and high-alcohol beverages at all cost.

  7. Fermented beverages that have less than 15 degrees of alcohol are preferable, such as red wine, rose wine, white wine, always taking care that they do not have added sugars and are preferable dry.

  8. Beers should be avoided because, although they are fermented drinks, they have a combination with barley that makes them the perfect formula to accumulate abdominal fat.

  9. The best thing is to only get to drink an alcoholic drink very occasionally and not daily since another popular belief is the daily consumption of wine and how it favors heart health, and although it could be true, it would also be favoring the abdominal circumference, that is, the accumulation of fat in the abdomen.

  10. Moderation and love yourself.

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