Navigating Alcohol on Keto, Carnivore, and Paleo Diets

What You Need to Know

four wine glasses
four wine glasses


Alcohol and diets—two words that often don't mix well. When it comes to specialized diets like keto, carnivore, and paleo, the question of alcohol becomes even more complex. In this article, we'll explore the relationship between these diets and alcohol, and how you can make informed choices based on your own body and experience.

The General Stance: Discouragement

First and foremost, it's important to note that keto, carnivore, and paleo diets generally discourage alcohol consumption. Alcohol can disrupt metabolic processes, hinder fat loss, and contribute to inflammation—things that these diets aim to mitigate.

The Benefits of Abstinence

Choosing not to consume alcohol while on these specialized diets can offer a multitude of benefits that align with your health goals:

  • Accelerated Fat Loss: Alcohol can slow down the fat-burning process because your body prioritizes metabolizing it first. By abstaining, you allow your body to focus on burning stored fat for energy.

  • Improved Gut Health: Alcohol can disrupt the gut microbiome, leading to digestive issues. A balanced gut is crucial for nutrient absorption, which is a key focus of these diets.

  • Enhanced Mental Clarity: Alcohol can fog your cognitive functions. Abstaining means you'll likely experience better focus and mental clarity, aligning with the brain-boosting benefits of these diets.

  • Optimized Hormonal Balance: Alcohol can mess with your hormones, including insulin, which plays a role in fat storage. By abstaining, you help maintain hormonal balance, aiding in weight loss and muscle gain.

  • Reduced Inflammation: Alcohol can contribute to systemic inflammation, a root cause of many chronic diseases. These diets aim to reduce inflammation, and abstaining from alcohol can amplify these effects.

Potential Setbacks

On the flip side, consuming alcohol can slow down your progress in several ways:

  • Caloric Surplus: Alcoholic drinks are often calorie-dense and can easily put you in a caloric surplus, hindering weight loss.

  • Impaired Judgment: Alcohol can lower your inhibitions, making you more likely to indulge in off-diet foods.

  • Reduced Workout Performance: Alcohol can affect your physical performance for up to several days, impacting your fitness goals.

  • Blood Sugar Spikes: Certain alcoholic drinks contain sugars and carbs that can spike your blood sugar levels, taking you out of ketosis if you're on a keto diet.

  • Slowed Metabolism: Your body prioritizes metabolizing alcohol over other nutrients, which can slow down your metabolic rate and hinder fat loss.

Individual Variability: Listen to Your Body

That said, many people find that they can enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week without derailing their low-carb lifestyle. The key is to listen to your body and understand how it reacts to alcohol. Some people may find that even a small amount can stall their progress, while others may not experience any negative effects.

If You Do Indulge, Don't Feel Like a Failure

If you decide to have a drink now and then, don't beat yourself up. You're not failing your diet; you're simply making a choice that you'll need to account for. Opt for lower-carb options like dry wines or spirits, and always drink in moderation.


The decision to consume alcohol while on a keto, carnivore, or paleo diet is a personal one and should be made with full awareness of the potential benefits and setbacks. While abstaining aligns more closely with the health goals of these diets, occasional consumption is a personal choice that can be made mindfully.