If you’re trying your hand at the high-fat, high-protein keto diet, you know you’ll have to ration your carbohydrates very carefully.
Keto suggests that you eat just 10 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates. That’s so your body stays in ketosis—the process by which your body uses fat instead of carbs as its main source of energy.
Doing the math for you, that means you’re limited to just 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day. Read a Nutrition Facts panel on a can of soda and you’ll see a serving clocks in at 39 grams of sugar (carbs).
And even so-called “healthy” drinks, like orange juice, can set you back a day’s worth of carbs: An 8-ounce serving of OJ has 25 grams of sugar.
So what does that mean for your favorite beverages? Are there any keto-friendly drinks that aren’t plain ‘ol water? Yes, but you’re going to have to tread carefully.
A good rule of thumb when reading nutrition labels is looking for drinks that are calorie-free or contain fewer than 5 grams of carbs per serving. Beware of added sugars, too, in flavored drinks. For example, plain almond milk is a good keto-friendly drink, but reach for the vanilla flavor? That’ll set you back 13 grams of sugar.
Is all this kind of ridiculous? Yes. Micro-managing your nutrition like this isn’t really fun or a great way to live, but if you’re committed to keto, this is life now.
Read on for some keto-friendly drinks and expert-backed tips on how to make your favorite drink keto-approved.
Can you drink juice on the keto diet?
Only if it’s “diet” juice or reduced-sugar juice.
Most fruit juices are high in carbohydrates (usually and overwhelmingly sugar carbs), which makes them almost impossible to drink on the keto diet, according to Mike Israetel, a sports nutrition consultant and former professor of exercise science at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Case in point: An 8-ounce ounces of cranberry juice has 30 grams of carbs. Apple juice? That’s roughly 24 grams of carbs.
That said, there are diet or reduced sugar juices that contain minimal carbohydrates, making them good keto-friendly drinks.
These products are packaged similarly to the full-calorie versions, so Israetel says you’ll need to read the nutrition label to ensure your juices are really low-carb.
Can you drink tea or coffee on keto?
Yes—with exceptions, of course.
Plain, unsweetened coffee and tea—served black—are keto-friendly.
If you like to lighten your drinks with milk, that’s probably okay. A tablespoon of whole milk and a tablespoon of heavy cream each contain less than one gram of carbs.
There are also flavored creamers on the market specifically designed for those nixing carbs. (Because keto.)
Tea drinkers should avoid adding honey to their cup, because honey contains sugar. Try unsweetened sparking teas, that don’t compromise on flavor.
But beware of bottled coffee drinks, which are often loaded with sugar.
Can you drink soda on keto?
No, but diet soda is fine on keto—in moderation.
Unsurprisingly, regular soft drinks are out. A 12-ounce can of pop has about 40 grams of carbs.
You can try drinks sweetened with natural sweeteners like stevia, too.
One warning: Israetel says while artificial sugars won’t knock you out of ketosis they could trigger cravings that may cause people to eat more.
Can you drink alcohol on the keto diet?
Hardcore keto followers may want to avoid happy hour altogether, as alcohol “stops fat loss dead in its tracks,” Israetel says. Drinking alcohol temporarily bumps you out of ketosis.
If you really want to celebrate that job promotion or toast your best friend’s wedding, opt for the hard stuff, like vodka and whiskey (on the rocks or with club soda). Wine and beer tend to be higher in carbs.
You can also try your hand at making your own low-carb, keto-friendly cocktail.
Can you drink protein shakes on the keto diet?
Yes—and you will probably need to.
Protein shakes are an easy on-the-go breakfast for keto dieters. In fact, Israetel says low-carb chocolate protein powders make a great addition to coffee instead of a traditional mocha.
Israetel recommends a powder that contains casein protein, which is digested slowly to help you stay full longer. Or, you could try a protein powder formulated to be nearly carb-free for keto dieters.
Can you drink almond milk on keto?
Yes. But choose plain or unflavored varieties. Flavored almond milk contains added sugar, which can clock in at 13 grams of carbs.
Can you drink soy milk on the keto diet?
Yes. Unsweetened soy milk is a great alternative to dairy milk and you won’t have to cash in on your carbs. A cup of unsweetened soy milk contains just four grams of carbs. Like almond milk, stay away from flavored varieties.
Is dairy milk keto?
Yes, but pay attention to the serving size.
Whole milk is your best bet thanks to its fat content—eight grams of fat per cup. While plain milk (so, not chocolate) doesn’t contain added sugars, lactose is a sugar naturally found in dairy milk. That means a one-cup serving contains 12 grams of carbs.
Can you drink matcha on the keto diet?
Yes, and it’s a great for people who miss their favorite sugary coffee shop drinks. Double-check the label to avoid added sugars, but many brands offer low-carb matcha mixes.
Can you drink milkshakes on the keto diet?
Typically high in fat, milkshakes can be keto-friendly if prepared correctly. That means it’s still not great pick one up from your favorite ice cream shop.
You’ll want to use low-carb bases–try mixing unsweetened almond milk and heavy cream—with a tablespoon of nut butter. You can’t add sugar, but stevia drops are a keto-friendly sweetener.
Can you drink smoothies on keto?
Yes, if you make them at home.
Smoothies from your favorite mall are most definitely not keto-friendly—they’re loaded with sugar. To make a keto-friendly smoothie at home, choose a low-carb base like unsweetened almond milk, and mix in match or protein powder, lots of ice, and a small amount of fruit (a half-cup of blueberries, for example, contains 10 grams of carbs).
Are energy drinks keto?
Yes. But read the labels. Flavored energy drinks can be like soda, with 30 grams of carbs per can. Opt for sugar-free versions.
Can you drink sports beverages on the keto diet?
Er, it depends.
You’ll have to give up the standard sports drink to stay in ketosis. A 20-ounce serving of a typical sports drink contains 36 grams of carbohydrates.
Instead, look for sugar-free sports drinks or electrolyte tablets to drop in your water, which have few or no carbs. For example, a popular electrolyte tablet contains just just two grams of carbs, 300 mg of sodium, and 150 mg of potassium.
Can you drink seltzer on the keto diet?
Seltzer water, even flavored ones, are usually calorie-free, thanks to natural sweeteners. Or, you can make your own with SodaStream.