With the holidays upon us, we are more likely to encounter events that serve alcohol. But if you’ve been following my Skinny Gut Diet or any number of low-carb diets—or if you’re about to begin—you might be wondering if you can drink alcohol. The answer is yes, but not all alcohol is equal. Here are some tips for enjoying alcohol on a low carb diet.
The lowest carbohydrate alcohols are distilled hard liquors: gin, rum, vodka, and whisky. Consumed on their own, these alcohols have no carbohydrates whatsoever. That might sound great to you unless the idea of drinking straight whisky makes you pucker before you even raise the glass. If rum and coke is your drink of choice, on the other hand, your carb load goes way up—unless you substitute Coca Cola with a stevia-sweetened cola. (I don’t recommend diet soda. Artificial sweeteners create their own set of problems.)
Paying attention to your mixers is crucial. If you don’t drink your alcohol straight up, neat, or with water, stick with mixed drinks like a martini, Manhattan, or Tom Collins. Stay away from margaritas, daiquiris, mudslides, or any sweet drinks. They are full of sugar (which means full of carbs)!
Wine and Dine
If hard liquor is not your thing, perhaps wine is your preference. You’re in luck. Most wines are relatively low in carbohydrates. A five-ounce glass of red wine will give you between 3 and 5 grams of carbohydrates. (Pinot noir is 3 grams, burgundy is 5 grams, and most others are 4 grams.) A five-ounce glass of white wine will give you between 3 and 6 grams. Sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc, and pinot grigio are 3 grams per five-ounce glass while a Riesling is 6 grams per glass.
Sweet dessert wine, on the other hand, is very high in carbohydrates with 15 grams per 3.5-ounce glass. That’s three tablespoons of sugar if you’re following the Skinny Gut Diet. You won’t want to overdo this drink.
What About Beer?
What about beer on a low-carb diet? Well, aside from the fact that beer contains gluten (with the exception of a few gluten-free brands), which is a food many people are sensitive to whether they know it or not, beer contains between five and 25 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving. That’s a big variance.
Low-carb and light beers contain the fewest carbs at 5 grams for an average 12-ounce glass, and some are as low as 3 grams per glass. But if you’re following the latest trend of rich, craft beers, your glass may contain up to 25 grams of carbohydrates! Lighter, more standard beers fall between 10 and 15 grams per 12-ounce glass. If you like beer, you’re better off with lighter varieties, or small amounts of heartier beers.
Hard cider is another popular drink lately, especially with the gluten-free crowd. Ciders provide the cold bubbly appeal of beer without the gluten. A 12-ounce glass of hard cider provides about 15 grams of carbohydrates. This will vary somewhat based on the cider’s sweetness.
Most importantly, drink responsibly. Not only for the carbohydrate content but for your health. Alcohol is filtered through the liver, which is also tasked with filtering the majority of toxins that come into your body. If you want to have a social drink or two, you probably won’t consume too many carbohydrates by choosing the right drink. Stay safe this holiday season!