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Effect of alcohol ingestion on ketosis and weight management

Posted On: April 11, 2020 By Michelle Mellet
11 Apr

Effect of alcohol ingestion on ketosis and weight management

When we start with our new ketogenic journeys, we can easily remove alcoholic drinks from our daily intakes. But after a few social events, we start missing the glass of wine in our hands around the fire. We do believe that finding a balance between healthy eating and still enjoying life is crucial. In this article, we would like to express whether alcohol consumption can form a healthy part of your lifestyle and if yes, how to achieve this. 

Alcohol is not an essential macronutrient, but it does contribute to energy consumption. There are 7 calories (29 kilojoules) in 1 gram of alcohol. Alcohol can be seen as empty calories, as it contains no protein, fiber, vitamins or minerals. While alcohol intake in moderation can help to increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels as well as reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, excessive alcohol intake might cause nutritional deficiencies and effect weight loss attempts [1]. 

1. How does alcohol affect ketosis and weight loss? 

If you follow a ketogenic diet, your body metabolizes fat stores as a form of energy due to depleted glycogen (glucose stored in the liver). When you ingest alcohol, the liver prioritizes alcohol metabolism above fat metabolism. This means that fatty acid oxidation (the process of creating ketones) is slowed until all the alcohol has been processed. Due to decreased fat metabolism and increased ingestion of total energy caused by the ingestion of alcohol, weight loss is reduced [2]. 

2. How does the ketogenic diet affect alcohol tolerance? 

Carbohydrates (such as pasta, pizza, crisps, bread, etc.) reduce blood alcohol levels by slowing down alcohol metabolism because carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (then stored as glycogen in the liver) which gets processed first. When you follow a ketogenic diet, there is a limited amount of glycogen within the liver which means that alcohol is processed much faster [2]. 

Carbohydrates cause water retention whereas decreased carbohydrate intake, such as on the ketogenic diet, causes increased fluid and electrolyte losses. Because alcohol is processed faster and water is retained less, you might find that you feel intoxicated much faster. A typical hangover, but only sooner than anticipated [3]. 

3. What better choices can I make when consuming alcohol when following a ketogenic lifestyle? 

The table below compares different types of alcohol (spirits and beer) mixed with normal mixers, water or sugar-free drinks. Women should limit alcohol intake to one drink and men two. One drink counts as 30ml spirits (such as gin, whiskey, rum or vodka), 330ml beer or 125ml wine. 


    1. Toffoloa MCF, de Aguiar-Nemera AS, da Silva-Fonsecab VA. Alcohol: Effects on nutritional status, lipid profile and blood pressure. J Endocrinol Metab. 2012; 2(6):205-211. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267642672 Alcohol Effects on Nutritional Status Lipid Profile and Blood Pressure doi: 10.4021/jem128e
    2. Bulletproof blog. Jessica Digiacinto [Internet]. Your guide to keto & alcohol – will drinking kick you out of ketosis? Available from: https://blog.bulletproof.com/keto-alcohol-guide/
    3. Perfect keto. Devan Ciccarelli [Internet]. Keto diet and alcohol: The best and worst drinks to choose. Available from: https://perfectketo.com/keto-diet-alcohol-rules/
    4. Noor NM, Basavaraju K, Sharpstone, D. Alcoholic ketoacidosis: a case report and review of the literature. Oxford Medical Case Reports. 2016:31–33. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297596484 Alcoholic ketoacidosis A case report and review of the literature doi: 10.1093/omcr/omw006
    5. Livestrong.com. Stephen Christensen [Internet]. Vitamins depleted by alcohol. Available from: https://www.livestrong.com/article/415965-vitamins-depleted-by-alcohol/
Michelle Mellet
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