Alcohol and Keto

Depending on the amount and kind of alcohol we drink, drinking alcohol will throw us out of ketosis, influence the scale in the wrong direction, and set our health goals back. The short answer is that it’s never a good idea to drink alcohol socially or reward your hard work to change your life with alcohol. Consider raising a glass using one of the following alternatives:

  • Seltzer with keto fruits such as lime or lemon or flavored with Sweet Leaf Sweet Dropsᵀᴹ
  • Water with keto fruits such as lime or lemon or flavored with Sweet Leaf Sweet Dropsᵀᴹ
  • Coffee or tea
  • Glass of ice. (The mitochondria work harder to keep us warm when we are cold.)
  • An empty bottle in your hand left by another guest

The Polite Turn-down

If your intention is to cut back or quit drinking alcohol all together, one option might be to avoid occasions where alcohol is being served. Because of our inherently social nature, this is not realistic. Even movies on the Hallmark Channel have scenes with glasses of wine. Saying “no thanks. I could use some water though” to the host is one polite way to decline alcohol. Another approach is to offer an explanation that cannot be argued: [1]

The host strikes out

  • I’m driving.
  • No thanks. I’ve just finished one.
  • I’ve had my limit for tonight.
  • No thanks. I have to work tomorrow.
  • No thanks, I’ve got an early start in the morning,
  • No thanks, I don’t want to get a hangover.
  • I don’t drink.

Sometimes the message bears repeating. If someone is pressuring you, repeat your response 3 times.

Tips to Help Limit Your Drinks

However, if you must drink alcohol, here are a few tips to help you slow down:

  • tips for slowing down alcohol consumptionCount your drinks. Set a realistic limit.
  • Remember to eat. For some drinkers, food reduces the craving for alcohol.
  • Drink a big glass of water first before turning to that glass of wine to prevent from becoming dehydrated.
  • Pace yourself by taking small sips of your drink.
  • Make your drink last by alternating sips of alcohol with sips of water.

Alcohol’s Backstory

What is a Standard Drink?

Standard drink in the USA standard drink contains about 14g of pure alcohol (about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons). [2] Different types and brands of beverages vary in their actual alcohol content. The liver takes 1 hour to processes 1 ounce of alcohol.

How our Bodies Process Alcohol

how the body breaks down alcohol The amount of time that a drink stays in our system has more to do with how much we drink than any other factor. [3] After consumed, 20% of our drink is absorbed in the stomach and 80% is absorbed in the small intestine. In my blog, “What is Keto Part 2,” I have included a diagram of the order in which our bodies process food. It shows that before our bodies break down anything else, if alcohol is present, the alcohol must be broken down first. Our bodies have no mechanism for storing alcohol, so it makes sense that this is a top metabolic priority. Furthermore, alcohol is toxic. One of the metabolites is acetaldehyde, a cancer causing substance. Its important to clear the acetaldehyde from our system as soon as possible.

Once in our bloodstream, alcohol must be processed by the liver. [4] While our liver is breaking down alcohol, metabolism of other food comes to a halt. Nothing else is metabolized while alcohol is in our system. [5] Drinking too quickly does not allow the liver to metabolize the first drink before the next toxic drink hits our bloodstream.[6] If there is too much alcohol for the liver to process, it will pause alcohol metabolism until it can produce enough enzymes to manage breaking the alcohol down. [7] When alcohol is consumed too quickly, it results in alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. For more information on alcohol poisoning visit the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Nothing else is metabolized while alcohol is in our system.

There are other reasons not to drink such as impaired driving, accidents and fatalities, harm to an unborn child, emotional, physical outbursts, and many other unintended consequences.[8] Drinking alcohol also halts fat burning and excess calories of the alcohol and food consumed with it are in part stored as belly fat.

Through its sedative qualities, alcohol reduces irritability and excitement by slowing the transmission of impulses between nerve cells that control your ability to think and move. This is known as the “buzz.” Your thinking may also be fuzzy, judgment impaired, tongue twisted, vision blurred, and muscles rubbery.[9]


There are lots of reasons to avoid alcohol while on keto such as the toll it takes on our bodies and the backslide our weight takes. There are also lots of ways to avoid or limit the amount of alcohol we do drink. Be honest with your self and polite to your host. Weighing the reasons to celebrate with a drink or not is a choice only we can make for ourselves.

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