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Can You Drink Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet? The Best and Worst Options

Many Carnivore beginners are curious if they can drink alcohol on the Carnivore diet. If you’re used to drinking and considering going on the Carnivore diet, you need to know how alcohol can affect your weight loss results and health goals, like reducing inflammation. This article will focus on the effects of alcohol on the Carnivore diet and introduce the beverages you can and cannot drink.

Can You Drink Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet? The Best and Worst Options
Highlights
  • Alcohol comes from fruits and grains, so it’s not a Carnivore-friendly drink.
  • Drinking alcohol can disrupt metabolism, gene expression, and ketosis, cause inflammation and weight gain, and increase food cravings.
  • Drinking occasionally is fine as long as you drink mindfully and choose low-carb, low-calorie drinks.
  • Mixed liquors like Bloody Mary, Margarita, Sangria, and Pina Colada are some of the high-carb drinks you need to avoid on the Carnivore diet.

Can You Drink Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet?

The Carnivore diet is an animal-based way of eating, which focuses on ruminant meats but allows all animal products, from poultry to seafood and eggs.

Alcohol is distilled from grains and fruits, so it’s not an animal product and is not generally allowed on the Carnivore diet.

Although many people are used to drinking alcoholic beverages, as a Carnivore follower, you can drink it a few times a year, like on special occasions, but you should know that it can have many side effects on your health and Carnivore results.

Learn More: How to Start a Carnivore Diet? When Should I Start? [Expert Guide]

Dr. Paul Saladino:

"Alcohol can disrupt metabolic health and slow down progress on a carnivore diet, so it’s best consumed sparingly."

The Side Effects of Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet

It takes about three weeks for your body to recover from the effects of alcohol and regain your energy. But in the long run, consuming alcohol can:

  • Cause metabolic problems,
  • Disrupt gene expression,
  • Set off inflammatory pathways,
  • Increase food cravings,
  • Cause weight gain,
  • Negatively impact ketosis and damage the liver.
Alcohol Can Hinder Weight Loss

A 2021 study found that 70% of Carnivore Diet followers who consumed alcohol regularly reported slower weight loss compared to non-drinkers.

Alcohol Causes Metabolic Problems

Alcohol can affect human metabolism in different ways. Studies show that consuming too much alcohol can reduce the rate of metabolism, i.e., how fast the body can turn food into energy [1].

A slow metabolism means the body cannot burn calories efficiently, which can cause weight gain, fatigue, low energy levels, difficulty in losing weight, and hormonal imbalances.

Alcohol Can Disrupt Gene Expression

Consuming alcohol can have negative impacts on the central nervous system, causing changes in gene expression and the performance of neuronal circuits.

It means that after some time, our brain gets used to alcohol and cannot function properly without it, which can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction [2] [3] [4].

Dr. Shawn Baker:

"While occasional alcohol consumption may not completely derail your carnivore diet, it’s important to be mindful of its effects on your body and progress."

Alcohol Can Cause Inflammation

Studies show that excessive use of alcohol can disrupt multi-organ interactions, which causes inflammation and organ damage [5].

It can also cause intestinal inflammation, which can change the composition and function of intestinal microbiota, which can damage the intestinal immune function [6].

Learn More: Can You Have Hot Sauce on a Carnivore Diet?

Alcohol Can Increase Food Cravings

Alcohol can affect the reward/ pleasure centers in the brain. Sugar can similarly affect these centers. Since the stimulations caused by alcohol and sugar in the brain are so similar, studies suggest that consuming sugar can lead to alcohol use [7].

It means that our brain reacts similarly to alcohol and sugar stimulations. So, by drinking alcohol, you trigger the reward centers, and the brain can make you eat high-carb foods to induce pleasure, which negatively affects your weight loss and Carnivore results [8] [9].

Dr. Ken Berry:

"Alcohol can introduce unwanted carbs and sugars into a carnivore diet, which may interfere with ketosis and fat loss."

Alcohol Causes Weight Gain

Alcohol contains high numbers of calories. For example, beer, wine, and spirits contain approximately 150, 125, and 95 calories, respectively. But black coffee and tea contain less than 5 calories.

Drinking alcohol with meals or before meals adds more calories to the total calories you gain from food. That’s how drinking alcohol can lead to weight gain [10].

Learn More: Can I Lose Weight on a Carnivore Diet? How Much? How Fast?

Alcohol Can Negatively Impact Ketosis and Damage the Liver

On the Carnivore diet, you need to eat large amounts of fatty meats, which are processed in the liver. Since alcohol is also processed in the liver, if you drink alcohol, your body cannot effectively induce and maintain ketosis–the process of turning fatty acids into energy [11].

Drinking too much alcohol can put pressure on the liver and negatively affect liver metabolism and function [12].

Summary

Alcohol can cause metabolic problems, disrupt gene expression, set off inflammatory pathways, increase food cravings, lead to weight gain, negatively impact ketosis, and damage the liver.

So, if you still want to drink alcohol on the Carnivore diet, you need to go for low-carb, low-calorie beverages.

The Best Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet

There’s no best alcohol on the Carnivore diet. We need to minimize alcohol consumption gradually, but these kinds of alcoholic drinks have lower carbohydrates:

  • Red wines like dry Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir
  • Dry white wines, such as Chardonnay, Champagne, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc 
  • Distilled liquors like Rum, Vodka, Gin, Tequila, and Whiskey

Let’s take a look at the total carbs, calories, and sugar content of these alcoholic drinks.

Type of Alcohol Serving Size Total Carb Content Calorie Content Sugar Content
Dry Merlot 1 ounce 0.7 grams 24 calories 0.18 grams
Cabernet Sauvignon 1 ounce 0.8 grams 24 calories 0.19 grams
Pinot Noir 1 ounce 0.7 grams 25 calories 0.21 grams
Chardonnay 1 ounce 0.7 grams 25 calories 0.28 grams
Champagne 1 ounce 0 grams 38 calories 0 grams
Pinot Grigio 1 ounce 0 grams 90 calories 0 grams
Sauvignon Blanc 1 ounce 0.6 grams 24 calories 0 grams
Rum 1 ounce 0 grams 64 calories 0 grams
Vodka 1 ounce 0 grams 64 calories 0 grams
Gin 1 ounce 0 grams 65 calories 0 grams
Tequila 1 ounce 0 grams 69 calories 0 grams
Whiskey 1 ounce 0.03 grams 70 calories 0.03 grams
Light Beer 1 ounce 0.48 grams 9 calories 0.03 grams

So, as the Carnivore diet focuses on low-carb, low-calorie, high-fat, and high-protein foods and drinks, we need to steer clear of the following high-carb alcoholic drinks.

Learn More: Can You Eat Cheese on The Carnivore Diet? What Is The Best Cheese?

The Worst Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet

The following liquors can be the worst on the Carnivore diet because they contain high levels of carbohydrates and calories.

  • All drinks with tonic water (they are only soda plus 2.6 grams of sugar per ounce).
  • Regular beer
  • Port, Moscato, and Riesling wines
  • Cocktails (mostly high in sugar)

Learn More: Low-Carb Wine: The 10 Best Red and White Wines

So, when we say these drinks are high in carbs, how high do we mean? Here’s a table showing the carbs, calories, and sugar content in popular mixed drinks:

Type of Alcohol Serving Size Total Carb Content Calorie Content Sugar Content
Bloody Mary 1 glass (14 oz) 13.3 grams 294 calories 9.38 grams
Regular Beer 1 can 12.6 grams 153 calories 0 grams
Margarita 1 cup (8 oz) 38.4 grams 296 calories 38.4 grams
Whiskey Sour 1 packet 16.5 grams 65 calories 16.5 grams
Cosmopolitan 1 cup (8 oz) 19.2 grams 72 calories 19.2 grams
Sangria Red 1 cup (8 oz) 20 grams 232 calories 16.8 grams
Pina Colada 1 cup (8 oz) 47.2 grams 360 calories 42.4 grams

Now, let’s focus on some popular kinds of alcoholic beverages, whiskey, vodka, tequila, red wine, and beer, and see how they can affect our Carnivore lifestyle.

Whiskey on the Carnivore Diet

Whiskey is distilled, which removes most carbohydrates. So, it usually contains zero carbohydrates, making it more suitable than other alcoholic beverages like beer or sweet cocktails on a Carnivore diet.

It’s not recommended to drink alcoholic beverages on a Carnivore diet as it can increase inflammation and hinder weight loss.

Anyhow, if you’re drinking occasionally, choose high-quality whiskeys without added sugars, flavorings, or colorings.

Here are some common types of whiskey:

  • Bourbon: Made from corn with a slightly sweeter profile
  • Scotch: Made from malted barley and has a smoky flavor due to the peat used in its production
  • Rye: Made from rye grain with a spicier flavor than other whiskeys
  • Irish Whiskey: Made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley, is smooth, often triple-distilled
  • Japanese Whiskey: Modeled after Scotch but can have a distinctive, more delicate flavor

Here are the nutrients in 1 fl oz. (30.4 g) of whiskey sour [13]:

Nutrients in 1 fl oz. (30.4 g) of Whiskey SourAmount
Water 22.1 g
Calories 45.3 kcal
Protein 0 g
Fat 0.009 g
Carbohydrates 4.01 g
Alcohol, ethyl 4.29 g
Calcium 0.304 mg
Iron 0.024 mg
Magnesium 0.304 mg
Phosphorous 1.82 mg
Potassium 1.52 mg
Sodium 6.08 mg
Zinc 0.018 mg
Copper 0.003 mg
Manganese 0.002 mg
Vitamin C 0.486 mg

Vodka on the Carnivore Diet

Vodka is a distilled spirit from fermented grains or potatoes, but the distillation process removes nearly all carbohydrates, resulting in a drink that usually contains no carbohydrates or sugars.

It’s better to choose pure, unflavored vodkas to avoid additives, sugars, and artificial ingredients. Check the label for any additional components that might not align with the Carnivore diet.

The most common types of vodka include:

  • Grain Vodka: Made from grains like wheat, rye, corn, or barley. Wheat and rye vodkas are popular for their clean, crisp flavors.
  • Potato Vodka: Made from potatoes, it’s rich and creamy in texture, and a good option for those sensitive to gluten
  • Fruit Vodka: Some vodkas are distilled from fruits like grapes or apples, which have subtle fruity undertones.
  • Flavored Vodka: Infused with flavors such as citrus, berries, or spices

Each fl oz. (27.8 g) of vodka distilled, 80 proof contains the following nutrients [14].

Nutrients in 1 fl oz. (27.8 g) of Vodka 80 ProofAmount
Water 18.5 g
Calories 64.2 kcal
Protein 0 g
Fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Alcohol, ethyl 9.28 g
Calcium 0 mg
Iron 0.003 mg
Magnesium 0 mg
Phosphorous 1.39 mg
Potassium 0.278 mg
Sodium 0.278 mg
Zinc 0 mg
Copper 0.003 mg
Manganese 0 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg

Tequila on the Carnivore Diet

Tequila is another carbohydrate-free spirit distilled from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant. Pure tequila, especially those labeled "100% agave," is the best choice to avoid added sugars or other additives that could interfere with the Carnivore diet. Avoid mixto tequilas, which can contain up to 49% non-agave sugars.

The most popular types of tequila are:

  • Blanco (Silver) Tequila: Clear and unaged, bottled immediately after distillation or aged for less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels, with a pure agave flavor
  • Reposado Tequila: Aged between two months and one year in oak barrels to give it a smooth, mellow flavor with hints of oak and vanilla
  • Añejo Tequila: Aged between one and three years in small oak barrels, resulting in a rich, complex flavor with notes of caramel, vanilla, and spice
  • Extra Añejo Tequila: Aged for over three years, it is very rich and complex, similar to fine-aged spirits like whiskey or cognac.
  • Cristalino Tequila: A newer category where aged tequila is filtered to remove the color, resulting in a clear tequila with the smoothness and complexity of aged varieties.

Here are the nutrients found in 1 fl oz. (31.1 g) of tequila sunrise [15].

Nutrients in 1 fl oz. (31.1 g) of Tequila SunriseAmount
Water 24.5 g
Calories 34.2 kcal
Protein 0.093 g
Fat 0.031 g
Carbohydrates 3.51 g
Alcohol, ethyl 2.92 g
Calcium 0 mg
Iron 0.006 mg
Magnesium 2.18 mg
Phosphorous 3.11 mg
Potassium 3.11 mg
Sodium 17.7 mg
Zinc 0.187 mg
Copper 0.013 mg
Manganese 0.004 mg
Vitamin C 6 mg

Red Wine on the Carnivore Diet

Red wine is a popular alcoholic beverage but it may cause more problems on a Carnivore diet than distilled spirits like whiskey, vodka, and tequila due to its carbohydrate content.

Red wine contains carbohydrates due to the sugars in grapes. The sugar content can vary based on the wine type and its residual sugar level but dry wines have less sugar than sweet wines.

Here are the most popular types of red wine:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Has a bold flavor with fewer residual sugars
  • Pinot Noir: Lighter and less tannic, with moderate carbohydrate content
  • Merlot: Smooth and fruity, with a moderate amount of carbohydrates
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Rich and full-bodied, with varying carbohydrate levels based on sweetness
  • Zinfandel: Can be higher in sugar, especially the White Zinfandel variety, which is sweeter

1 fl oz. (29.4 g) of typical red wine contains the following nutrients [16].

Nutrients in 1 fl oz. (29.4 g) of Red WineAmount
Water 25.4 g
Calories 25 kcal
Protein 0.021 g
Fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 0.767 g
Alcohol, ethyl 3.12 g
Calcium 2.35 mg
Iron 0.135 mg
Magnesium 3.53 mg
Phosphorous 6.76 mg
Potassium 37.3 mg
Sodium 1.18 mg
Zinc 0.041 mg
Copper 0.003 mg
Manganese 0.039 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg

Beer on the Carnivore Diet

Consuming beer can be challenging on a Carnivore diet due to its carbohydrate content and the use of grains in its production. Unlike distilled spirits, beer retains a substantial amount of carbohydrates and other plant-derived ingredients, making it less compatible with the Carnivore diet.

Also, beers can contain various additives, including sugars, flavorings, and preservatives, which increase the carbohydrate content.

The most common types of beer are as follows:

  • Light Beer: Lower in calories and carbohydrates than other kinds of beer
  • Lager: A popular beer style that is light in color and flavor, with moderate carbohydrate content
  • Pilsner: A type of pale lager, crisp and refreshing, with similar carb content to regular lagers
  • Ale: A broad category that includes pale ales, IPAs, and others, usually with a higher carbohydrate content
  • Stout and Porter: Dark beers with rich, complex flavors, higher in carbohydrates
  • Craft Beer: Varies widely in carbohydrate content, often high-carb due to ingredients and brewing methods

Each fl oz. (29.5 g) of light beer contains the following nutrients [17].

Nutrients in 1 fl oz. (29.5 g) of Light BeerAmount
Water 28 g
Calories 8.56 kcal
Protein 0.071 g
Fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 0.484 g
Alcohol, ethyl 0.914 g
Calcium 1.18 mg
Iron 0.009 mg
Magnesium 1.48 mg
Phosphorous 3.54 mg
Potassium 6.2 mg
Sodium 1.18 mg
Zinc 0.003 mg
Copper 0.002 mg
Manganese 0.002 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg

So, as mentioned earlier, alcohol consumption is not recommended on a Carnivore diet, but if you want to drink alcohol anyway, here are the tips you should know.

Learn More: The 20 Best Low-Carb Beers: Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Options

Tips for Drinking Alcohol on the Carnivore Diet

  • Don’t have the all-or-nothing approach. It’s ok if you can’t follow all the rules at first. You need to learn how to minimize and avoid non-Carnivore foods and drinks.
  • If you like to drink once in a while, do it, but don’t make it a habit, as it takes three weeks for your body to recover. If you want to drink alcohol, do it rarely.
  • Think of alcohol as other high-carb, high-calorie foods/ drinks that are not good for you and hinder your weight loss and health results on Carnivore.
  • Drink lots of water as alcohol is dehydrating.

You can also minimize your alcohol use by substituting it with Carnivore-friendly drinks.

Alcohol Can Increase Cravings

According to a 2020 survey, 60% of individuals on the Carnivore Diet experienced increased cravings and hunger after consuming alcohol.

Alcohol Alternatives on the Carnivore Diet

You can drink the following beverages on the Carnivore diet:

  • Mineral water: It contains natural or added minerals, which help hydration and electrolyte balance.
  • Bone broth: It contains collagen, gelatin, amino acids (such as glycine and proline), and minerals (like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus), which help joint and gut health. It also helps hydration and contains natural electrolytes (sodium and potassium).
  • Club soda or sparkling water: Both are carbonated water. Club soda contains minerals (sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate) with no carbohydrates. Sparkling water is calorie-free, so it’s suitable for the Carnivore diet.
  • Electrolyte drinks: They support hydration and mineral balance and have no carbohydrates or sugar. They also help recovery after intense physical activities. 
  • Butter coffee or fatty latte: It’s one of the favorite drinks of Carnivores and contains only coffee and butter. It’s a good Carnivore-friendly drink as it has no carbohydrates or sugar, contains fat, and can boost energy.
  • Plain tea: It’s black tea with no sugar, which has almost zero calories and helps hydration.

Yes, these alcohol alternatives contain no alcohol, but they are healthy and help you reach your weight loss and health goals on the Carnivore diet.

Learn More: Can You Eat Olives on a Carnivore Diet? Is It Healthy?

Summary

The Carnivore diet is an elimination diet to reverse inflammatory health conditions caused by different factors like drinking alcohol.

It’s okay if you drink on special occasions, but remember that alcohol is like poison, and we’d better avoid it or at least minimize it.

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