How The Keto Diet Affects Alcohol Intolerance — Plus Tips for Happy Hour
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Get your keto drink on!
Is alcohol intolerance a thing? Can you drink alcohol on a keto diet without sabotaging your goals? The short answer to both is yes. We’ve got tips for happy hour, but first, there are a few important things you need to know.
People who consume alcohol while on a keto diet quickly learn (usually the hard way) their tolerance greatly diminishes. And while there’s not a lot of scientific research to explain this, there are a couple theories at play:
1. Less glycogen (stored carbohydrate) is available in the body, which acts as a buffer on a standard diet
2. The satiating effects of a keto diet often result in less food consumption, which in turn will process alcohol at a faster rate
Also, keep in mind that lowered alcohol tolerance equals worse hangovers. So, regardless of the mechanism, on a keto diet, it is important to approach alcohol with caution.
Tips for drinking alcohol on a keto diet
Following a keto diet doesn’t mean you need to swear off hard beverages for good. That said, there are some easy to follow tips for making sure you don’t reverse all the great benefits of keto!
• Eat a keto-friendly meal before drinking.
• Drink much slower to avoid over-consumption.
• Limit to only one or two servings total, which, depending on the type of drink, will likely not affect your ketosis.
• Choose lower-carb alcoholic beverages which include: light beers, dry wines/champagne, and hard liquor without sugary mixers.
Regular alcohol consumption may interfere with your goals. Here’s how:
Your body treats alcohol as a threat, meaning that eliminating the alcohol from the body will take priority over any other processes like metabolizing carbs, fat, and protein. So, what does this mean? The fat burning switch gets turned off. This is because:
• Alcohol contains empty calories (no nutritional value), so you won’t feel very full.
• Alcohol also lowers inhibition, which often can lead to excessive snacking and overeating of unhealthy foods.
• There are hidden carbs in beer, wine, cocktails, and flavored liquors. These can add up quickly and take you right out of that fat-burning mode.
The end result? The potential for weight gain and delayed progress in reaching your goals. In additional to being kicked out of ketosis, excessive drinking leads to hangovers, which many people report to be much worse on a keto diet. Bad hangovers result in decreased energy and motivation to get back on track the next day.
So yes, you can enjoy an occasional drink or two while on a keto diet, but approach with caution and drink responsibly. Make sure to eat a good keto meal beforehand, and set a limit to one or two servings.
Happy keto hour!
Tara Finnerty RDN, CSP, CD — is a ketogenic specialist and fat-fueled enthusiast. Tara is a registered dietitian in Utah and owner of Sugar House Nutrition LLC. Her aim is to provide nutrition support for people wanting to reap the many health benefits of the ketogenic (keto) diet. Her expertise in the keto diet was initially working with children who have uncontrolled epilepsy. Tara supports nutrition diversity and works toward helping people find an individualized approach to make healthy eating sustainable.