Can Low Carb Alcohol Help My Diet?

Can Low Carb Alcohol Help My DietThe vast majority of people enjoy alcoholic drinks on occasion.  According to scientists who research the matter, unless one has a tendency toward alcohol abuse, occasional drinks, at the level of one or less daily for women and two or less daily for men can be a good thing.  In addition to the potential for an alcohol abuse problem, drinking at a level more than these limits increases one’s chances of cancer and other health issues.  This brings many to the question of how to handle alcohol when also following a low carb diet.

Alcohol vs Carbs

Although alcohol is sometimes included with carbohydrates, the body treats the two differently.  From the standpoint of calories alone, a gram of alcohol provides the body with almost twice the calories of a gram of carbs.  The numbers are actually 7 calories per gram for alcohol and 4 per gram for carbs.  In addition, the body’s makeup causes it to use the calories from alcohol for energy before it begins to use the calories supplied by carbs or fats.  This makes the choice of low carb alcohol helpful if one is attempting to diet or lose weight.

Several of the low carb diets that are currently ranking as very popular recommend dieters avoid all alcoholic beverages, even low carb alcohol, during the first phase of the diet.  This is due to the fact that even low carb alcohol can cause a spike in the blood sugar that is followed by a rise in insulin which causes the body to store more of the calories as fat.  Since the dieter is more likely to have an empty stomach, the spikes, even from low carb alcohol tend to be worse.  For better weight control, avoid drinking any alcoho, even the low carb alcohol, when you have not had any food.

The Reason all Alcohol is not Low Carb Alcohol

Fermentation, requires sugar or starches that can be converted to sugar, that is provided by a high carb plant, such as grains or grapes.  During the process of fermentation, the yeast in the brew digests the carbohydrates to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Any sugar that is left in the beverage adds to the drink’s carbohydrate level, which varies from one beverage to the next.  Dry wines have little residual sugars, but sweet ones have quite a few.  In addition, liqueurs often have sugars added (often a large amount) to produce their sweet flavor, so they are not low carb alcohol.

Distilling the spirits to create rum, vodka, whiskey or others leaves nothing but alcohol, so they are actually zero in carbs, and low carb alcohol.  However, adding mixers usually involves adding sugar, so they are no longer a low carb alcohol choice.  A quarter cup or 2 oz. of sweet and sour mix used in margaritas, daiquiris and whiskey sours adds 17 grams of sugar.  A better alternative is to ask for citrus juice and add your own sweetener.  Just be aware that the fruit also adds carbs in the low carb alcohol.