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What You Can and Can't Drink While Keto

When most people consider adapting their diet to be keto-friendly, they think a lot about what they can and can’t eat. But, many forget to account for drinks. Unfortunately, some of the tastiest beverages on the market simply aren’t keto-friendly. Luckily, with the growing popularity of the keto diet, there are more and more keto-friendly, delicious drinks out there. 

This guide will help you to understand the basics of the keto diet and what drinks are keto-friendly, and which ones aren’t. For those drinks that aren’t so keto-friendly, we’ve offered up some alternatives and brands that make great-tasting drinks that will more easily fit into your daily carb budget.

What Can I Drink While Keto?

Actually — pretty much anything! Within moderation, of course. 

Over the last few years, as the popularity of the keto diet has grown, a number of companies have created drink alternatives that are keto-friendly. So, you may not be able to have a soda a day anymore, but you can find a fizzy alternative that can satisfy your craving.

Below, you’ll find a list of drinks that are keto dos, don’ts, and alternatives. 

Keto Basics

As a quick refresher of keto basics, the keto (short for ketogenic) diet is a diet that is low in carbs. The reduction in carbohydrates puts your body into a state of ketosis or fat burning.

Benefits of the keto diet are weight loss, reduction in blood sugar fluctuations and insulin levels, lower hunger levels, and an increase in "good" cholesterol

A keto diet is very low in carb intake. The general guidelines stipulate a diet that’s 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.

Keto diet beginners often don’t realize that sugar is a carbohydrate. With such a limited percentage of their diet made up of carbs, keto dieters must consume very little sugar. One of the biggest changes for many new to the keto diet is removing added sugar from their diet. Many drinks have a sneaky amount of sugar and carbs. 

This list will help you to identify which drinks are keto-friendly and which ones you should find an alternative for. When in doubt, always read the label to understand the net carbs in a food or drink.

Artificial Sweeteners

For many people, when they switch to a low carb diet, such as keto, they swap sugar for artificial sweeteners, which are found in products advertised as low calorie and low carb. But, artificial sweeteners might just be too good to be true.

While swapping in an artificial sweetener for real sugar or sucrose does technically make something keto, it doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. 

Common artificial sweeteners include:

  • Aspartame (Equal)
  • Saccharine (Sweet N’ Low)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

Recent studies have found that artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose and aspartame, can damage the healthy bacteria in your intestines, might be more addictive, and can increase sugar cravings

So, while substituting sugar for artificial sweeteners makes it low-carb and keto-friendly, it doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. When replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, it’s important to evaluate your overall health goals.

Another alternative to artificial sweeteners is more natural, plant-derived, low-calorie sweeteners. These include:

  • Stevia
  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol
  • Monk fruit

So far, research shows that these plant-derived, natural sweeteners are safe and healthier than artificial sweeteners. But, more long-term studies are needed. And, they should still be consumed in moderation as some additives, such as maltodextrin, have been linked to blood sugar spikes.

If you choose to use a sweetener other than sugar, choose one of the natural sweeteners. And, if you are purchasing a natural sweetener, look for one that is more pure and isn’t blended with other chemicals.

One conclusion that can be drawn is that sugar, artificial sweeteners, and natural sweeteners should all be consumed in moderation. 

Keto Diet Drink Dos 

When it comes to keto-friendly drinks, you want to look for options that have little to no sugar. These keto-friendly drinks can be had without much worry.

Water

Yes! Water is the most keto-friendly drink of them all. With no sugar and no calories, you can drink as much water as you want on the keto diet. And, let’s not forget, water also comes with other health benefits such as helping you stay hydrated, reducing constipation, and improving mood and cognitive performance.

When in doubt, drink a glass of water. 

Sparkling Water

If you love sodas, a great keto-friendly alternative is sparkling water. As this drink has become more and more popular in the U.S., there are tons of options to choose from.

Unflavored sparkling water will have no sugar and no carbs, meaning you can have as much as you want. Unflavored sparkling water is simply water that’s been carbonated with carbon dioxide gas, it has the same nutritional value as water.

You can also find flavored sparkling water. Many of these flavored fizzy waters are unsweetened, making them a low-carb choice. But, it’s important to be an educated consumer. Some flavored sparkling waters do have added sugar, and sometimes a lot of it. A quick peek at the nutritional facts will tell you all you need to know. 

Some beverages are sneaky, like the San Pellegrino Fruit Beverages. They look just like sparkling water, but each can has 26 grams of added sugar and 31 grams of total carbs. Always check the label before you bring something home or impulse by it with your lunch.

Tea

Another go-to drink for keto dieters is tea. Tea is very versatile, offering a number of different flavor profiles and drink options that are keto-friendly. 

Keto-friendly teas are green, black, white, and herbal, all of can be served hot or cold. Most teas have less than 1 gram of carbs per cup. Tea is essentially calorie-free and full of healthy nutrients, such as polyphenol antioxidants which can have numerous health benefits

When choosing teas, watch out for teas that have added ingredients. Some teas will have added sugar or dried fruits, so be sure to check the label on any flavored teas before buying. There are plenty of delicious, flavored teas available that are also keto-friendly.

Coffee

Just because you’re on the keto diet doesn’t mean you have to give up everything that is good in this world. And, that includes coffee. Coffee, straight with no additions, is nearly calorie and carb-free. Plain coffee can be consumed hot or iced. 

Where coffee can be dangerous is if you’re adding any creamers, sweeteners, or flavoring. But, if you don’t like your coffee plain, there are keto-friendly options for sweetening it.

Coffee Creamers

While black coffee is totally keto-friendly, many people enjoy coffee with additions. Luckily, there are a number of keto-friendly options for changing up your coffee.

If you’re looking to alter your coffee, go for half-and-half, non-dairy creamer alternatives, artificial sweeteners, or sugar-free flavor syrups to make your coffee delicious. Keto-friendly coffee additives include:

Another keto-dieter favorite is enhanced keto coffee. While a keto diet is low in carbs, it’s high in fat. Many people following a keto diet will add butter, ghee, coconut oil, or MCT oil to their coffee to get that creamy flavor without the carbs. Within keto circles, this has become known as bulletproof coffee and you can find tons of recipes and variations online. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!

Milk Alternatives

While it might not be apparent at first, cow’s milk isn’t keto-friendly. Milk contains a natural sugar called lactose, which makes it not keto-friendly. Instead of milk, go for plant-based milk alternatives which are lower in sugar.

Plant-based milks that are keto-friendly include:

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Macadamia nut milk
  • Flaxseed milk
  • Soy milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Pea milk

Be sure to purchase unsweetened plant-based milks and check the label for carbs and sugars before buying.

Plant-based, milk alternatives are great for drinking, putting in your coffee, baking with, adding to recipes, and pouring over cereal.

Liquors

Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. If you’re planning to drink while maintaining a keto diet, you will want to build it into your carb budget and you might have to alter your drink of choice. But — you can drink.

Your best choice while keto is to go for hard liquors. These are naturally low-carb and are therefore keto.

Keto-friendly hard liquors include:

  • Vodka 
  • Whiskey
  • Rum
  • Tequila
  • Gin

Where you might run into a problem is mixers. To maintain ketosis, you’ll want to avoid mixers such as sodas and fruit juices, which are loaded with sugar. 

Low-carb mixers include:

Hard Seltzer

The drink of choice for summer and hot weather is a hard seltzer. As the drink has become more popular, everyone from small-batch makers to Bud Light have gotten in on the game.

Hard seltzers are a great option for a keto-friendly alcoholic beverage. The only thing you have to watch out for is added sugar. If you choose a low- or no-added-sugar hard seltzer, you’re simply drinking sparkling water mixed with liquor and natural flavors. It’s a perfect, keto-friendly drink.

Starbucks

Yes! There are keto-friendly drink options at Starbucks, you just might need to make a few substitutions. 

Most Starbucks drinks are not keto-friendly, with some of the most popular drinks clocking in with 30 to 70 grams of carbs each. For most Starbucks drinks, you’ll need to substitute milk for a milk alternative and request sugar-free sweeteners and syrups.

There are tons of resources out there to help you find your perfect, keto-friendly Starbucks drink and to know what substitutions to make and how to order it.

Here are some popular Starbucks drink options that can be made keto-friendly:

  • Unsweetened iced coffee
  • Cinnamon dolce latte
  • Frappuccino
  • Mocha
  • Flat white
  • Starbucks Pink Drink
  • Starbucks White Drink
  • London fog
  • Chai tea latte
  • Unsweetened iced tea
  • Nitro cold brew
  • Iced blond vanilla latte
  • Cafe Misto

We just a few substitutions, you can get something delicious and keto-friendly at Starbucks.

Keto Diet Drinks — Find Low-Carb Replacements

While there are some drinks that are an absolute keto-friendly yes, there are also many drinks that get a keto maybe. These drinks are ones that you have to evaluate before guzzling down. Some of these drinks are a no-go, but have easy-to-find keto-friendly alternatives.

And, with many of these maybe drinks, size matters. You can actually have any drink you want while keto, you just have to drink it in moderation and make other food choices that leave space in your carb budget. Even some drinks that are labeled keto-friendly might not fit your carb budget, so always read the label and do the math.

Flavored Water

Just like flavored sparkling water, only some flavored waters will work for your keto diet. And what it comes down to is how they are sweetened and how much sugar each drink contains.

You can find plenty of flavored water options that are low in sugar or use carb-free sugar alternatives. And, if you don’t like any of the options, you can purchase water enhancers and mix them into tap water. You’ll find plenty of liquid and powder options.

Keto-friendly flavor enhancers for water include:

Smoothies

Another keto maybe are smoothies. A good rule to live by, if you make it at home, it can be keto-friendly. Unfortunately, smoothies you buy at the store are probably not keto-friendly. One of the big issues with smoothies is that they’re mostly made with fruit (which is high in fructose or fruit sugar) and might have added sugar.

If you want to make a keto-friendly smoothie, you’ll want to make it with a milk alternative, protein powder, lots of ice, and a small amount of fruit. You can also fill it full of veggies and add fiber (such as chia or flax seeds) to lower the net carbs.

Smoothies are tough to do right when you’re sticking to a limited carb count on a keto diet, so beware of your smoothie consumption while keto.

Protein and Meal Replacement Shakes

When it comes to protein powder and meal replacement shakes, not all are created equal. You’ll want to choose a product that’s specifically for your keto diet. There are tons of options out there to choose from, but be sure to read the label. Not all keto options are as low carb as you might think.

Once you do find a keto-friendly protein powder you like, you can mix it up with lots of flavor enhancers to create new recipes so you’ll never be bored.

Some of our favorite keto-friendly meal replacement shake recipes include:

Just because it’s keto doesn’t mean it will be boring and flavorless! If you get creative, you can find some really great keto-friendly alternatives.

Diet Sodas

Sometimes you get a craving for a fizzy drink and just nothing else will satisfy that craving but a soda. Unfortunately, when you’re on a keto diet, most sodas just aren’t within your carb budget. 

If you’ve tried to satisfy your craving with a fizzy water and healthy snack and it just won’t be tamed, you should try a diet soda. Diet sodas are technically keto-friendly.

Because diet sodas have zero calories and zero sugar, they fit the definition of keto. But, those artificial sweeteners are not necessarily healthy. So just like sugar, consume in moderation.

If you have to have a diet soda, look for keto-friendly brands that use healthier, more natural sugar alternatives such as stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol. These natural sweeteners are zero-calorie and have fewer negative health effects.

Healthier, keto-friendly diet soda options include: 

Vegetable Juices

Vegetable juice seems like a no-brainer healthy drink option, right? Well . . . almost. Veggies are keto, but the problem is the juicing. When you juice vegetables (or fruit) you remove the fiber or pulp. By doing so, you take away a lot of the healthy nutrients of the vegetable.

Keto-friendly vegetables that can be juiced include:

  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Kale
  • Spinach

If you’re not juicing at home, be sure to carefully read the label. Many packaged juices, even when labeled as 100% vegetable juice, have added sugars to enhance the flavor.

Wine

When drinking on a keto diet, your best option is hard liquor. But, if you’re craving a glass of wine after a long day, there’s totally a way you can fit it into your carb budget.

Dryer wines will have fewer sugars and carbs than sweeter wines, making them more keto-friendly. Dry wines might have as little as .5 grams of carbs per glass. Sweeter wines, especially dessert wines, will have 4 to 5 grams of carbs per glass. 

Energy Drinks

Another not-so-keto-friendly option is your standard energy drink. Most well-known energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster, are not keto-friendly. (Not to mention, might have other adverse health effects.)

But, if you periodically need that boost of energy to get you through your day, look for keto-friendly energy drinks that are low in sugar and carbs. And, keep in mind, the recommended daily caffeine intake is 400 mg

Keto-friendly energy drinks include:

Sports Drinks

During a workout, you sweat a lot, which causes you to lose electrolytes. While water can help to rehydrate you, it doesn’t replace your electrolytes. Loss of electrolytes can cause muscle cramps and headaches.

Electrolyte drinks can also help curb the symptoms of keto flu. When you first cut out carbs from your diet, you can experience flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and fatigue. Electrolytes can help reduce these symptoms.

Most people turn to sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade to replenish their electrolytes. But, these drinks are also full of sugar and carbs. They do have zero sugar options, but they’re made with (unhealthy) artificial sweeteners.

Keto-friendly sports drink and electrolyte replacement options include:


When choosing an electrolyte, look for ones that are made with low sugar and minimal artificial sweeteners.

Beer

When it comes to keto-friendly alcohols, beer is one of the hardest to make fit into your carb budget. But, with the right choice of beer, you can do it.

There are now multiple low-carb beers available on the market, making it so you can have beer as part of your keto diet.

When you’re looking for a keto-friendly beer, look for one that’s advertised as low-carb and then be sure to check the label to make sure it will fit into your carb budget for the day.

Keto-friendly beers include:

  • Budweiser Select 55
  • Michelob Ultra
  • Miller 64
  • Corona Premier

There are also low-carb options available from smaller, local breweries. Just be sure to ask for the nutrition details and look for a beer that has 4 grams of carbs or less.

Keto Diet Drink Don’ts

Since the keto diet has been around for years now, there are lots of low-carb drink options and alternatives. This means that there are very few drinks that you absolutely can’t have while keto. 

And really, you can probably have anything you want on a keto diet, it’s just about making the tradeoff and budgeting your carbs to be able to do it.

Because of their carb content, these drinks will be harder to fit into your low-carb, keto diet.

Fruit Juices

Most fruit juices won’t fit into your keto diet because they’re loaded with sugar and have little to no fiber. If you’re craving fruit juice, you might be able to find some low-sugar varieties. 

Another alternative to fruit juice is fruit. While fruit still has a high level of fructose (fruit sugar) and carbs, the fiber in fruit helps to counteract the sugar. There are plenty of keto-friendly fruits you can keep in your diet.

In general, you’ll want to avoid fruit juices while on a keto diet.

Sodas

Another no-go on a keto diet is soda. Sodas, like fruit juices, are like drinking liquid sugar. Sodas are high in sugar and carbs with no redeeming nutritional value. 

If you’re desperate for the fizzy sweetness of a soda, look for a naturally sweetened, low sugar option, choose a diet soda, or go for an unsweetened fizzy water.

Milk

While milk seems like a healthy option, it’s actually packed with lactose or milk sugar.

In addition to cow’s milk, while keto, you should avoid:

  • Oat milk
  • Goat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Sweetened milk alternatives

If you want a milk alternative, look for unsweetened milk alternatives such as almond, coconut, and flaxseed milk.

When you first embark on a keto diet, it can seem like your options are incredibly limited for what you can eat or drink. Water is always available to you on the keto diet, but so are a lot of other drink options.

Unsweetened tea, coffee, sparkling water, milk alternatives, and hard liquors are all keto-friendly drinks — within moderation. For other drinks you may want to have, such as sodas, sports drinks, Starbucks, and energy drinks, there are lots of keto-friendly versions that you can find and use as replacements for your typical drink.

Written by:

Page Grossman

Yoga Instructor | Nutrition Enthusiast

Page Grossman is a writer, editor, and RYT-500 yoga instructor. Page uses her research skills, knowledge of nutrition, and storytelling abilities to create interesting, easy-to-read articles. She combines knowledge of nutrition, mental health, and fitness for a holistic view of health and wellness. You can find her articles on the [...]

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