If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you’re super focused on what you eat (especially what you don’t eat). But don’t forget that what you keto drinks can also help you achieve success.
Why Staying Hydrated Is Crucial on a Keto Diet
Why does this eating plan seem to affect your hydration so much?
The problem of dehydration on the keto diet comes down to the far-reaching effects of ketosis. When your body enters this metabolic state of burning fat as fuel, the liver produces ketone bodies. These are water-soluble compounds made up of fatty acids. Instead of using carbohydrates as fuel, your body will use ketone bodies for energy, releasing them into your bloodstream.
The problem is that ketone bodies have a diuretic effect, causing you to urinate more frequently – and thus lose water. (That’s why you sometimes hear your initial weight loss on keto referred to as “water weight.”)
Also, when your body stops using carbohydrates for fuel, the liver releases its glycogen stores. This form of glucose is stored along with large amounts of water. Again, this water is excreted through the urine, leading to dehydration.
A low-carb diet also causes the body to produce less insulin. Less insulin in your blood predicts that your kidneys will excrete sodium at a higher rate.
And when it comes to sodium, a keto diet often means eating a lower amount of salt than the standard American diet you may have consumed in the past. Since sodium helps your body retain water, eating less sodium can cause your body to not hold on to as much fluid.
While these are good signs that your keto diet is working, they can lead to the dreaded keto flu – a symptom that includes dehydration, fatigue, headaches and an overall feeling of “nausea”. For many people, the keto flu will resolve in a few days or up to a week. However, in the meantime, you can reduce your symptoms by focusing on rehydrating with fluids and electrolytes.
This is hands down the best drink for you — keto or not, says Gulotta. Keep a water bottle near you at all times and sip throughout the day to stay ahead of your hydration.
Plain Low-Carb, Calorie-Free Tea
Tea is another good choice because it’s carb-free and (almost entirely) calorie-free – as long as you keep it plain and don’t add sugar or other sweeteners. Rich in the health-promoting antioxidant flavonoids, tea can also improve blood vessel function and help keep your heart healthy, according to Harvard Health News. If you drink tea in the afternoon or evening, choose a caffeine-free herbal variety, such as chamomile, so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep that night.
Seltzer or Sparkling Water
It’s a great way to change up the water you normally drink, and it’s better than tonic water, which looks like regular sparkling water but actually contains a lot of sugar (it’s still considered keto-friendly, though). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that adding a splash of lemon adds nearly half a gram (g) of carbohydrates.
Plain Coffee or Coffee With Unsweetened Heavy Cream
What matters most is what you add to your brew. Drinking black coffee is completely calorie-free, but many keto dieters will appreciate the extra fat provided by heavy cream, says Scott Keatley of the Keatley Center for Medical Nutrition Therapy in New York City. For adults, up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day is considered safe, according to the Mayo Clinic. For reference, 1 cup – 8 fluid ounces (oz) – of coffee contains about 92 mg, while a short cup of coffee (8 oz) from Starbucks contains 155 mg, according to the company’s website.
There is something uniquely warming and comforting about sipping a steaming cup of bone broth. It notes that its broth is carb-free, with less than 50 calories in 1 cup of broth, while adding 9 grams of protein. Traditional broth is also a good choice, although it has less protein. One cup contains 15 calories and about 1.5 grams of protein, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If you want to mix things up, almond milk and light coconut milk are great choices because they contain 1 gram (or less) of carbohydrates per cup. Just be sure to always read the nutrition label carefully and choose varieties that don’t have added sugar. These milks are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals, so they’re a great way to get calcium and vitamin D.
It’s not the best choice – nor should it be your go-to drink. But if you’re really craving something sweet and soda-like, consider kombucha, a fermented tea that’s gut-friendly. The problem is that all kombucha is made with sugar, which is needed for the fermentation process. You have to sacrifice carbohydrates in order to have kombucha. Read the labels – the amount of added sugar is all over the map. You can find some brands and flavors that have about 3 grams of carbs per half cup. (That’s a quarter of a bottle, so measure it out.) If you really want this, remember to drink in moderation.
Certain Types of Alcohol
Partying daily shouldn’t happen, but if you want to go out for a glass of wine, that’s fine as long as it fits into your daily carbohydrate allowance. According to the USDA, there are about four carbohydrates for every five ounces of red and white wine. Likewise for white table wine, according to the USDA. In general, drier wines contain less sugar. For example, choose a Sauvignon Blanc over a Riesling.
The USDA states that spirits (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) have 0 grams of carbohydrates per 1 ounce. Just remember to mix these spirits with plain water or unsweetened sparkling water, not juice or soda. Some hard sodas may also be suitable, but some planning is required, as they contain about 4 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per can, though you should check the nutrition label of your favorite brand.
Smoothies but Watch the Ingredients
Smoothies are a great way to pack a lot of nutrients (and some fiber) into one glass, but carbs can add up quickly if you’re not careful. You can easily find many keto-friendly smoothie recipes online that include keto favorites like nut butter, Greek yogurt, avocado, greens, berries, flax, coconut milk or stevia (for sweetness), among other ingredients.