The Keto diet isn’t just about low-carb foods. It’s also about low-carb drinks.
That’s right. Liquid carbs, like solid carbs, count against your Keto total.
Does this mean you can’t drink anything sweet or alcoholic on Keto? Are the fun times over?
Not necessarily. While your Keto drink options are limited, you can still indulge in a variety of pleasurable beverages.
We’ll cover what you can drink on Keto in a moment. First, let’s cover a few basics.
What Is Keto?
When someone mentions the term “Keto,” they’re probably talking about the ketogenic diet. (Aka, the Keto diet). This very-low-carb diet entails eating 55 to 70 percent of your calories from fat, 15 to 35 percent from protein, and under 10 percent from carbohydrates.
In Ketosis, fat is burned, resulting in the production of molecules called ketones that fuel your brain and body.
Many people go Keto to lose weight, but there are many other potential ketosis benefits—mental acuity, stable energy, lower blood sugar, heart health, brain health, etc.—beyond weight loss. Some of these benefits depend, in part, on proper hydration.
Staying Hydrated on Keto
On Keto, your hydration needs increase. Why? Because Keto has a diuretic effect. You lose more fluids through urine.[*]
A similar effect occurs when fasting. In fact, much of the early weight lost during a fast is water weight.
But this doesn’t mean that you should drink water like it's your job. In most cases, drinking to thirst should suffice.
Here’s the thing. Most people drink enough water on Keto, but they forget about the other component of healthy hydration: electrolytes.
Electrolytes like sodium and potassium are critical for maintaining fluid balance in your body. And guess what? Keto makes you pee them out like a banshee.[*]
The point is, you need both water and electrolytes for proper hydration.
Keto Drinks: Basic Principles
The main rule for Keto drinks is also the main rule for Keto foods: Keep net carbs low.
It’s that simple. If a beverage has fewer than 5 grams of net carbs per serving, it’s generally Keto-friendly. (Ideally, it has 0 grams of net carbs).
Net carbs, by the way, are just total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols. Fiber and sugar alcohols don’t contain sufficient calories to kick you out of ketosis, so they don’t count against your carb limit.
To be clear, not all low-carb beverages are ideal choices for a clean, healthy, whole foods Keto diet.
Take diet soda, for example. A glass of diet soda won’t kill you (plus it contains 0 net carbs), but artificial sweeteners like aspartame may have undesirable effects on the gut microbiome.[*] Why take the risk?
Best Cold Drinks On Keto
Let’s run through a list of Keto-approved cold drinks now. The net carb count is in parenthesis after each drink.
- Water (0). The favorite drink of Homo sapiens for millennia. To avoid unwanted compounds in modern tap water, drink filtered water.
- Lemon Water (0). A squeeze of lemon doesn’t add meaningful calories. Enjoy.
- Iced tea (0). What’s better on a warm day than a cool glass of iced tea?
- Iced coffee (0). Be aware that milk and creamer add net carbs.
- Zero-sugar electrolyte drinks (0 to 2). LMNT is a tasty drink mix with zero junk and plenty of electrolytes.
- Keto-friendly soda (0). If soda is sweetened with stevia, monk fruit, allulose, or erythritol—it’s probably Keto-friendly.
- Unsweetened almond milk. (2)
You’ll notice that coconut water, vegetable juice, milk, soy milk, energy drinks, kombucha, and plain-old sugary soda didn’t make the cut. These drinks have too many carbs to be Keto.
Best Hot Drinks on Keto
Ready for a steaming mug of something good? Try these:
- Coffee (0). If you take milk, consider almond milk for a lower-carb cup of Joe.
- Tea (0). This includes true teas (green tea, black tea, white tea) and herbal teas.
- Bone broth (1). Bone broth is a good source of collagen protein for healthy skin, hair, and nails.[*]
- Hot chocolate. (5-6) Use unsweetened cocoa powder and almond milk to keep the carbs down. (Try this Keto cocoa recipe.)
Keto Drinks FAQ
Let’s cover some commonly asked Keto drinks questions.
Can you drink soda on Keto?
Provided it’s very low-carb soda, yes. To avoid artificial sweeteners, try a stevia-sweetened zero-carb soda, or better still, opt for sweetener-free sparkling flavored waters, like this range from Aura Bora.
Can you drink alcohol on Keto?
Most people can enjoy alcohol in moderation on Keto. The best options are unsweetened wine (3 to 4 grams carbs per serving), light beers (2 to 5 grams carbs per beer), and distilled spirits (0 grams carbs per drink. Stick to one (max two) servings per day, and you should be fine.
Can you drink protein shakes?
It depends on the ingredients in the shake. Just make sure net carbs are low.
Keto-friendly protein powders include whey protein isolate, collagen protein, soy protein, egg protein, hemp protein, and pea protein. Read labels to confirm carb counts.
Can you juice vegetables?
In general, juicing does not produce Keto-friendly drinks. Why? Because when you juice, you remove fiber but not sugar.
If you must juice, juice with low-carb vegetables like spinach, celery, kale, and arugula.
Can you drink milk or dairy products on Keto?
For the most part, no. Milk contains too much sugar (as lactose) to be Keto.
Keto Drink Recipes
To get you started, here is a selection of our favorite Keto-friendly beverages:
What To Drink On Keto
To drink in Keto-approved fashion, just keep carbs low.
And remember: diet sodas and various alcoholic beverages may be low-carb, but that doesn’t make them healthy. Be moderate to stingy with these libations.
As you hydrate, don’t neglect electrolytes. Along with fluids, electrolytes are essential for the energy, mood, and performance benefits that come with proper hydration.
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