Yearly, hundreds and thousands of people plan resolutions often tackling old goals with high hopes and enthusiasm. And since obesity has become one of the most significant public health crises (1), losing weight and getting back into shape is a favorite goal.
Are you a frequent dieter too? How many have you tried before? You probably have heard or even encountered diets that are way too restrictive or impose impractical limitations to the types of foods you can eat. There are so many options available out there, each one claiming to be proven by science or used by celebrities to get fit for a role, and it’s all confusing.
One of the latest diets to be picked up by a lot of people recently is the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is commonly known as an extremely low-carb diet that relies on fat for energy which they say improves fat loss. However, the ketogenic diet is also popular for its restrictive menu.
But before we dive in on what you can drink on a keto diet, let’s first define what a ketogenic diet is and its health benefits.
What is A Keto Diet and How Does it Work?
Though being labeled as “fad”, a ketogenic diet can be very effective for weight loss. It works by decreasing insulin levels and using ketones as your main source of energy. You’ll be in a state known as ketosis.
However, unlike other low-carb diets, this does not gradually increase your carbs. Instead, you’ll keep a very low carb intake, approximately 50 grams per day or lower, to maintain ketosis.
Several studies agree that ketogenic diets can also help reduce inflammatory markers and disease risk factors for overweight and obese patients (2).
Results from a controlled two-year study showed that those who followed a ketogenic diet lost an average of 27.5 pounds and 29 inches from their waists. These were significantly more than the low-fat group, even if both diets were calorie-restricted (3).
More so, even when calories are not intentionally restricted, ketogenic dieters have shown less interest in calorie intake. Studies suggest that this may be due to ketones’ ability to suppress appetite (4).
However, because it is high in saturated fat, it is associated with an increase in LDL cholesterol, which is also linked to heart disease. Other side effects aren’t usually serious. You can experience a mild decrease in blood sugar, constipation, or indigestion. Much less often, it can cause acidosis and kidney stones. A “keto flu” is also possible, which may include headache, irritability, weakness, bad breath, and fatigue.
Why Choose A Ketogenic Diet?
The most common reason for going on a ketogenic diet, or any other diet for that matter, is solely for weight loss. However, unlike other diets, the ketogenic diet does more for your body than helping you lose weight. Below are five scientifically proven benefits of going on a ketogenic diet.
1. It Gives You More Energy
When the body gets used to producing and utilizing ketones as the main fuel source, you will most likely have more energy than ever before. This is because ketones are much more efficient at what they do for the amount you produce. Not to mention you’re no longer dependent on carbs, which mean you will no longer experience any form of crashing.
There is also this thing where you get a sense of euphoria when the high energy kicks in and eliminates what we call “brain fog.” No brain fog means clearer thought processes (5).
2. You Will Burn More Fat As Fuel
When you induce ketosis, you’re helping your body get rid of excess fat by letting it directly convert fat to energy. This will tell your body to essentially burn more fat than it stores, making you technically become a human fat furnace.
3. It Will Help Preserve More Muscle Mass
One of the common problems with diets is how people often worry about the loss of muscle mass. This is quite the issue especially in men who work out for hours a week and want to go through a cutting phase. They definitely don’t want to lose all their gains. The best way to lose weight is to burn fat and fat alone. Ideally, this happens, but we don’t live in an ideal world.
Sometimes people who try to lose weight end up losing more muscle than fat. There a lot of factors, but this often happens when they only cut out calories without supplying the body with a replacement source of energy. This lack of fuel source could lead to a process called gluconeogenesis.
Gluconeogenesis is yet another natural process wherein the body turns to non-carbohydrate sources as fuel. If you’re not in a state of ketosis, or you’re not doing a low-carb diet in general, the natural choice would be to burn the protein in your muscle.
Being on a ketogenic diet tells your body to prioritize ketones over glucose when it comes to the energy source, and that’s much better since ketones come from fat stores. This effectively saves your muscles from being cannibalized.
4. You Will Feel Full Longer
As mentioned, the ketogenic diet is best paired when doing a fast, specifically intermittent fasting. Not only will that promote fat burning more, the fact that you’re on a high-fat diet means you will be consuming foods known to keep the stomach from feeling hunger for extended periods.
Fat naturally keeps you from eating too frequently, and the ketogenic diet mainly uses fat as the food source. Put two and two together, and you get weight loss (6).
5. It Can Help Lower Your Risks of Type 2 Diabetes
When we consume too much sugar, the body stores them as fat the aid of insulin, a hormone created by the pancreas. Insulin’s main function is to control our blood sugar levels. Suffice to say, if our body is not able to produce enough insulin or if we’re consuming more sugar than the amount of insulin we’re producing, our risk of acquiring diabetes is significantly higher as our blood sugar rises uncontrollably.
In a ketogenic diet, you only consume the right amount of carbs which prevents spikes in blood sugar and insulin resistance, two symptoms that act as prerequisites to Type 2 Diabetes (7).
Best Drinks When on A Keto Diet
This is hands down the best drink for you — keto or not. Keep a water bottle near you at all times and sip throughout the day to stay ahead of your hydration.
2. Plain Low-Carb, Calorie-Free Tea
Tea is another great choice, as it’s carb- and calorie-free, as long as you keep it plain and don’t add sugar or another sweetener. Rich in health-promoting antioxidant flavonoids, teas also may improve the functioning of blood vessels to keep your heart well (8).
Tea is a natural option that contains a negligible number of carbs, typically less than 1 gram per 240 mL. You can enjoy it iced or hot.
Black tea is made from aged tea leaves, giving it a more robust flavor, darker color, and higher caffeine content. Meanwhile, green tea is made from fresh tea leaves, lending it a more floral flavor, lighter color, and less caffeine (9).
You can also choose white tea, which is made from young tea leaves. It has a very mild, delicate flavor compared with both black and green tea (10).
Furthermore, tea is essentially calorie-free and full of polyphenol antioxidants. For example, green tea is rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant that may provide anticancer benefits (9).
Herbal teas are infusions derived from dried flowers, fruit, leaves, or herbs. Examples include hibiscus, chamomile, yerba mate, peppermint, and rooibos tea.
Most are low in carbs, as few carbs from dried herbs steep into the water.
However, products made with dried or candied fruit pieces may be slightly higher in carbs. As such, you may want to check the carb count of packaged tea products before purchasing them.
If sipping in the afternoon or evening, go for a caffeine-free herbal tea, such as chamomile tea, so it doesn’t impact your sleep at night.
Like with tea, it’s what you add to your brew that matters most. Drinking it black is completely calorie free, but many keto dieters will appreciate the added fat that heavy cream provides. For adults, up to 400 milligrams (mg) per day of caffeine is considered safe. For reference, 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces of coffee contains about 92 mg (11), while a tall coffee at Starbucks contains 245 mg, as per their website.
Coffee contains caffeine, which may give your metabolism a slight boost. It also provides chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol antioxidant that may likewise aid weight loss (12).
4. Sparkling Water
Sparkling water is carbonated either naturally from a mineral spring or during manufacturing by using carbon dioxide gas. Many sparkling water options are flavored, but they’re typically unsweetened, making them an excellent low carb choice.
This is a great way to mix up your usual water. However, you should avoid tonic, which looks like clear, plain bubbled water, but actually contains a ton of sugar. Shop for keto-friendly sparkling waters like Perrier, Aura Bora, and Hint.
Also, adding a squeeze of lemon adds nearly ½ gram of carbohydrates.
5. Alternative Diet Sodas
Although diet sodas like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi are technically keto, they may not be the best choice.
That’s because they harbor artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame, which may damage the healthy bacteria in your gut and strengthen sugar cravings, potentially leading to weight gain (13).
Conversely, several diet sodas are made with naturally derived zero calorie sweeteners like stevia or erythritol, a sugar alcohol derived from corn that has fewer negative effects than artificial sweeteners (14).
6. Bone Broth
There’s something uniquely warming and comforting about sipping a steaming cup of bone broth. As per one brand’s label, this liquid is said to offer 0 carbs and 1 cup contains less than 50 calories while adding 9 g of protein. Traditional broth is a stellar option, too, though it has less protein. One cup contains 13 calories and 2.5 g of protein (15).
While it is best to avoid juice on keto, there are a few safe options.
Fruit juice is typically loaded with sugar, making it inappropriate for the keto diet.
Yet, there are exceptions, including lemon and lime juices, which are low in carbs but full of flavor. You can add them to plain water or other beverages, such as hot or iced tea, to liven up the taste.
Some juiced vegetables are low in carbs and can be included on the keto diet. Still, keep in mind that juicing removes most of the nutritious fiber from the veggies unless you choose to drink the pulp.
Some keto-friendly vegetables that can be juiced include celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens.
If you don’t have a juicer, store-bought juices are sometimes available.
Nonetheless, be sure to check the label on bottled veggie juices, as they may pack sugar or other carb sources. In fact, most contain at least 10 grams of carbs per serving, making them inappropriate for keto.
8. Milk Alternatives
Although cow’s milk isn’t recommended on keto because it contains natural sugar, several plant-based alternatives are perfectly keto-friendly.
Almond, coconut, and cashew milks make for great choices if you want to mix things up, as they contain 1 g or less of carbs per cup. Just be sure to always read the nutrition label closely and choose unsweetened varieties. These are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, so they’re a good way to get in calcium and vitamin D.
Other keto-friendly plant-based milks include macadamia nut milk and flaxseed milk. These products are great for drinking, pouring on keto-friendly cereals, and various culinary uses.
Still, only the unsweetened versions of these milks are keto-friendly. Many plant-based milks are flavored and sweetened, making them inappropriate for keto.
This isn’t the best pick nor should it be your go-to sip. But if you’re really craving something sweet and soda-like, consider kombucha, a gut-friendly fermented tea. Catch is, all kombuchas are made with sugar, which is needed for the fermentation process. Read the label, especially the amount of sugar added. Loom for brands and flavors that have about 3 g of carbs per ½ cup.
10. Energy Drinks
Some energy drinks are keto-friendly, although many popular brands use artificial sweeteners. As such, you may want to choose from a handful that use natural sweeteners like stevia.
You should be aware that energy drinks may harm the brain, heart, and liver, especially in adolescents and teens. They’re linked to heart failure in rare cases (16).
If you decide to consume these beverages on occasion, keep their caffeine content in mind. Most energy drinks contain 150–200 mg 475-mL can, which you can compare with the recommended safe daily caffeine threshold of 400 mg for the general population (17).
11. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade contain electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, to help replenish those that are lost through sweat.
For people who engage in intense exercise or outdoor workouts in the heat, electrolyte supplements and fluid rehydration are vital. Loss of electrolytes through sweat can exacerbate dehydration and lead to muscle cramping and headaches (18).
Electrolyte drinks may also help combat the keto flu, a cluster of symptoms that includes fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps that may occur when you first start the diet (19).
Still, most sports drinks are loaded with sugar. Gatorade Zero and Powerade Zero are solid keto-friendly options, but they use artificial sweeteners.
Some alternatives include electrolyte powders sweetened with stevia that you can mix into water.
12. Alcoholic Beverages
Partying daily shouldn’t happen, but if you want to go out and have a glass of wine, that’s fine as long as it fits within your daily carbs. Spirits like gin, rum, vodka, whiskey have 0 g of carbs per 1-ounce serving (20).
Remember to mix these with plain water or an unsweetened sparkling water rather than fruit juice or soda. A 5-oz glass of red table wine contains 4 g of carbs (21), and the same goes for white table wine (22). Generally, drier wines contain less sugar. For instance, go for a sauvignon blanc over a riesling.
Beer is typically high in carbs, as it contains sugars from wheat that aren’t fermented into ethanol.
Yet, low carb beer is made by either using less wheat or allowing a longer fermentation process to more completely convert the sugars into alcohol.
Some of the lowest carb beers, which clock in at 2–3 grams of net carbs per 12-ounce bottle, are Budweiser Select 55, Michelob Ultra, and Miller 64.
You can also choose low carb hard seltzers, which are made with flavored seltzer water or sparkling water and added liquor.
If you happen to avoid gluten, you’ll want to check the label carefully because many of them are made with malt liquor.
There are several keto-friendly drinks to choose from other than water and you may already have been drinking most of these or at least have them on stock.
Tea, coffee, and herbal tea are among the best options. Sparkling water, low carb juices, sports drinks, and energy drinks are good options, too. Although, you’ll want to opt for low carb, no-sugar versions and look for products that use stevia instead of artificial sweeteners.
Also, there are several alcoholic drinks available for keto dieters too. You may choose from low carb beer to seltzer to hard liquor.
Enjoy dieting while still enjoying some of your favorite drinks!