Low carb dieting and consuming alcohol generally don’t mix. Many drinks contain added or unfermented sugars that skyrocket the calorie count and prevent consumption by health-conscious individuals. Nutritional content can be difficult or impossible to obtain because alcoholic drinks are not required to have labels like our food.
Unless you brew your own (a lot of great info on the topic at 52 Brews), you have limited knowledge of what is in your drink. Thankfully, some manufacturers have seen the potential market for lighter and lower calorie offerings. In some cases, calorie and carb information can be found on the label; very helpful for the carb conscious.
Consumed in moderation, alcohol is thought to be generally safe for adults. Some research even suggests that moderate and responsible alcohol consumption can have health benefits. With a low carb drink you can feel less guilty about enjoying a couple of drinks.
Low Carb Spirits
A tumbler of scotch looks a lot like soda, which instantly makes you think it couldn’t possibly be low carb. Spirits that are pure are relatively carb free, regardless of color. This includes spirits such as whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila, scotch, and gin. Consider any sort of flavored or mixed liquor carefully, though: these may have additives that contain carbohydrates. Also avoid anything sweet, which is a definite sign of sugars present. A shot of whiskey, neat or with ice should be approximately 65 calories with 0 carbs. While not necessarily low calorie, 65 calories can be fit in on occasion.
Low Carb Wines
The fact that wine is made from fruit shouldn’t deter anyone on a low carb diet. There are actually quite a few options from which to choose. While not as low carb as spirits, there are still low-carb wine options with as few as 3 carbs per serving. It is advised to stick with dry or semi-dry varieties to keep the carb count low. Red wines would be among the most suggested due to the potential health benefits. Merlot, cabernet, and pinot noir are popular varieties that are all under 4 carbs per serving and around 120 calories. If you’re more into a white wine, then try chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon.
Low Carb Beers
Unfortunately for beer lovers, many full flavor and craft beers have loads of carbohydrates. When beer is made, much of the sugar is consumed by yeast to produce alcohol. Not all of the sugar is converted, leaving it in the final product. Leftover sugars make beer delicious, but also make it high in carbs and calories. Thankfully there are some more reasonable options for lower carb beer. Light beer varieties can be as low as 2 carbs a serving while most are around 3-5. At around 100 calories per serving, beer isn’t super low calorie, but low enough to be a responsible choice. Some of the better options include Miller Lite, Michelob Ultra, or Rolling Rock Light.
Having a few drinks and living a low carb lifestyle can coexist. Stay away from mixed drinks and additives, these often contain unhealthy amounts of sugar. Low carb options are available and when consumed in moderation can fit into any diet.