Alcohol on the Low Carb Diet
For anyone new to the low carb diet, one of the most common questions that they have is regarding alcoholic drinks like beer or wine, and whether they need to avoid them while sticking to a low carb diet plan. Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy a drink or two from time to time, there are many types of alcoholic drinks that are perfectly suitable for the low carb lifestyle. Much like any other kind of food, alcoholic drinks need to be evaluated for their carb content and other ingredients in order to determine whether they are ok to have or if they should be avoided.
We’ve put together this handy reference that helps explain the different types of alcoholic drinks, and which ones are fine to have in moderation on a low carb diet, and which ones should be avoided. Many drinks that are traditionally high in carbs are now being made in low carb versions, and many mixed drinks can simply be altered with different ingredients to help bring the carb count down. Let’s take a look at how alcohol fits in the low carb diet, and how the different kinds of drinks fare in carb counts.
How does alcohol fit in a low carb diet?
Since the alcohol we drink, also known as ethanol, is not a sugar, it’s actually the other ingredients in the drinks that contribute to their carb counts. For example, drinks that are mixed with juices or sodas will have a higher carb count than straight alcohol because of the sugars contained in the mixers. When evaluating drinks, for their suitability in the low carb diet, it’s critical look at the other ingredients in the drink as a gauge of their carb count than the alcohol content by volume.
Which drinks are high in carbs?
It may come as no surprise that beer is one of the drinks that contains the highest carb content since it’s made from grains. Barley, hops, and yeast are the main ingredients in beer, and this is why the carb count tends to be on the higher end of the spectrum. While there are some beers being produced these days specifically to be lower in carbs, they should still be consumed in careful moderation. Even a low carb beer can be higher than many other drink options, so be aware before you crack one open.
Mixed drinks are where the real danger zone lies for low carb dieters. Many mixed drinks include ingredients that are very high in sugars, like syrups, colas, and juices. Pre-mixed coolers are notoriously loaded with sugars, and should pretty much be ignored by low carb dieters. Other examples of mixed drinks to be avoided include the classic rum and cola, vodka and orange juice, and white Russian. The standard ingredients for these drinks are very high in sugar, and if you’re considering making one, be sure to swap out as many as you can for low sugar options.
Which drinks are low in carbs?
This may surprise some people, but wine is actually one of the most suitable choices for alcoholic drinks for the low carb diet. Although it is made from grapes, the actual natural sugar content in wine is very low. Of course, it should be noted that certain wines contain slightly more carbs than others. Generally, champagnes and sparkling wines tend to be the lowest in carbs. Red wines such as merlot, pinot noir and cabernet are also low in carbs. Some white wines can be a bit higher in carbs, such as Rieslings or ice wines, so make sure you check the label for sugar content just to be sure.
Straight alcohol such as vodka, tequila, brandy and the different varieties of whiskey all come in at zero carbs. Of course, ounce for ounce these have much higher alcohol by volume, but if you’re just looking for a simple drink to sip on and not worry about the carb count, these can be excellent options. In fact, one of the most popular drinks with health-conscious dieters is a simple mixer of vodka and carbonated soda water, which goes by the cheeky name ‘Skinny Bitch’. Classic martinis are also an option for zero carb drinks, so if you want to get your secret agent style going, why not order a dry one shaken, not stirred?
Low carb mixers
Every now and then the time is just right for a margarita. Unfortunately, with regular margarita mixes usually comes a lot of sugars. Luckily for low carb dieters, the taste of a margarita can still be had with a sugar-free drink mix like these Margarita Mixes from Baja Bob’s. By using Splenda as a sweetener instead of regular sugar, these mixes deliver the classic taste without all the extra carbs. These are also available in flavours for a mojito, pina colada, or sour apple martini, so go ahead and explore some new low carb taste experiences at your next cocktail party.
More low carb drink ideas
If you’re now inspired to start getting creative with different kinds of low carb alcoholic drinks, there are plenty of ideas out there to keep you entertained. For example, this great collection of low carb drink ideas from Georgina over at StepAwayFromTheCarbs.com is sure to give you some ideas to try with your next dinner guests.
As the saying goes, everything in moderation. This is especially true with alcoholic drinks. However, low carb dieters should have no fears about indulging in the occasional glass of wine or nice single malt scotch. Alcoholic drinks should be treated with the same diligence as anything else you eat on the low carb diet. Simply keep track of your carbs and the math will easily tell you what your best choices are. We hope that you’ve found this information helpful! Cheers!