The Ketogenic Diet and Alcohol: Everything You Need to Know

We'll explain below the reasons why it isn't at all advisable to consume alcohol in the context of a ketogenic diet.
The Ketogenic Diet and Alcohol: Everything You Need to Know
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 18 July, 2022

Alcohol is a toxic substance that can be dangerous in the context of the ketogenic diet, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. Otherwise, over time, harmful effects on the central nervous system may be experienced.

It will also adversely affect other organs, such as the liver. Despite this, its intake is very normalized nowadays, making it the most popular drug. What are its harmful effects? Let’s have a look in detail.

The danger of alcohol in the ketogenic diet

In the context of the ketogenic diet, alcohol consumption becomes really dangerous, as it can increase the risk of suffering a ketoacidosis situation. Hypoglycemia will also be more likely to develop, as the intoxicant is able to modify glucose homeostasis in the body.

For these reasons, it should be avoided as much as possible, even if we’re talking about alcoholic beverages that don’t contain carbohydrates inside. Similarly, it should be borne in mind that alcohol provides a very high amount of empty calories.

These elements modify the energy balance of the pattern, which can lead to unwanted fat weight gain. It’s crucial to avoid promoting adipose tissue, otherwise chronic and complex pathologies could be experienced, as evidenced by research published in the journal Current Obesity Reports.

It should also be taken into account that alcohol intake increases diuresis, which can affect the electrolyte balance in the body and lead to increased excretion of important minerals such as sodium.

These losses should be avoided in order to prevent serious alterations such as hyponatremia. Therefore, hydration measures should be optimized and diuretic substances should be avoided, especially in hot weather.

Some alcohol.
Ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia and dehydration are some of the consequences of drinking alcohol during a ketogenic diet.

Other dangers of alcohol

As we’ve already mentioned, alcohol isn’t only dangerous in the context of the ketogenic diet. In this case, there are some added side effects, but they aren’t the only ones. Alcohol causes a progressive degeneration of the central nervous system function.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, regular alcohol consumption can lead to the development of pathologies such as Parkinson’s disease.

The danger is even greater in the case of adolescents. High consumption of this intoxicant can affect neuronal connections and the number of cells that make up the central nervous system, which hinders its functions.

To experience this damage, it isn’t necessary to reach a point of alcohol intoxication, but only a moderate intake is sufficient. Among other things, it should be noted that the presence of this substance in the diet is one of the main risk factors for the appearance of liver-related problems.

Alcoholic cirrhosis can be experienced from excessive consumption, but other types of inflammatory alterations will occur under moderate consumption. Research published in the Annals of Hepatology confirms this.

Alternatives to alcohol on the keto diet

If you are looking for alternatives to reduce alcohol consumption, a good option may be sparkling water. Many people find it refreshing and it satisfies the need to consume a carbonated soft drink, in this case without added sugars.

Sparkling water doesn’t break ketosis and doesn’t cause any harm to the body, as long as it’s taken in moderation. Only people with a tendency to experience intestinal pain or gas may be affected by this type of beverage.

However, it’s important to always check the labeling. Carbonated water isn’t the same as soda water, which has simple sugars which break the state of ketosis. This is a liquid that should be avoided in the context of almost any diet.

A woman drinking water.
Water is the best drink to hydrate the body in any type of diet.

Beware of alcohol consumption in the ketogenic diet

As you have seen, alcohol is a dangerous and toxic substance for health that should be avoided, and even more so in the context of the ketogenic diet, as it could lead to a number of associated complications.

The best thing is to ensure a good state of hydration, using mineral water. This ensures that the electrolyte balance is maintained without affecting ketosis. This becomes more important in hot periods or during regular physical activity.

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