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Alcohol & LCHF

 Prof Grant Schofield a.k.a The Fat Professor discusses an issue and question he is often asked – alcohol and LCHF, and how it fits (if at all) into a Low Carb Healthy Fat lifestyle.

Question: What about alcohol? I’m concerned that this no longer occasionally fits into my new LCHF lifestyle.

Top Tip: Alcohol CAN fit into your LCHF lifestyle and overall health. It’s just a matter of details. The idea that alcohol, especially red wine, prevents heart disease might have some truth, but in reality alcohol does cause harm, even in quite small amounts. Alcohol is a source of empty calories and provides very little else in terms of nutrients. Alcohol can also affect sleep quality, and good sleep is one of the important lifestyle components that goes hand-in-hand with LCHF nutrition on the journey towards optimal living.

Of course, it’s not all bad. Alcohol can help people relax and is a social lubricant. For many of us, alcohol can be a pleasurable and important part of life. We enjoy a glass or two of wine with our family or friends. We connect and relax, thereby reducing stress. The positive benefit of this should not be discounted.

Here are some key points about alcohol to consider with regards to LCHF:

  • Spirits mixed with sugar-containing drinks are by far the highest carb-contributing beverages. Avoid these and replace the sugar-containing beverage with soda water (and freshly squeezed lime or lemon).
  • Beer contains carbohydrate from the left-over maltose derived from the malted grain used in the fermentation process. Low-carb beer has less carbs and is a good occasional option, but don’t think it’s okay to drink more just because it’s low carb. Low-carb beer is not necessarily low in alcohol and still contains lots of calories from the alcohol itself.
  • Wine, by definition, is fermented grape juice. It starts off as a sugar-containing fruit, but through the process of adding yeast for fermentation, the sugar is converted into ethanol. In sweeter wines, the process of fermentation is stopped before all the sugar turns to ethanol, so they have a higher carb content than drier wines. While drier wines are quite a bit lower in carbs, they still have a fair bit of alcohol and therefore calories.
  • Liqueurs can be high in carbs and vary considerably between varieties, so avoid regular consumption.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Avatar Pip martin says:

    How about the amount of sugar left in fermented drinks like kombucha or Elderflower Fizz?

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Pip,

      commercial kombucha is quite low in sugar but I’ve had home-made ones that were sweeter. I suppose it depends how much you want to drink, and whether your goal is to be in ketosis. If your diet is in the moderately low carb range, then you could trade these sugars for carbohydrates from some other food so that total carb intake stays the same.

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