One of the first questions we are often asked is: “Can I drink alcohol while following this plan?”. The reason we are all so keen to know whether or not alcohol is allowed on the Atkins diet is a debate for another day!
So why is alcohol one of those things that we are told not to consume while following a diet and are you allowed to drink alcohol while following the Atkins nutritional lifestyle?
On Induction phase 1 alcohol is not allowed. But Induction is only for two weeks. The reason alcohol is restricted on a low carb diet, especially at the start is, when ingested into the body it is metabolized before the fat in your body, so in that case alcohol is treated (from the bodies perspective) like a macro-nutrient. This applies to almost all spirit alcohol and some wines.
Beers, ales, stouts, alco-pops, flavored spirits, desert wines and sherry all contain higher level of sugars than neat spirits like whiskeys, vodkas, gins, aged brandy and scotch. Drinking spirits neat or on the rocks (with ice) or water is better than drinking spirits with mixers, with soda water being the exception. Sugar free tonic water is also fine.
When you move onto OWL, alcohol in moderation is acceptable once you use the above guidelines you should be fine. To illustrate how many carbs are in a beer; a pint of draft beer (500ml) contains 8 grams of carbohydrates, considering that on OWL you should be eating between 20 and 40 grams of carbs daily then a glass of beer is far too high in carbs at this stage. The other down side of taking alcohol is that it may make some of your old cravings for high carb snacks, such as crisps and other high carb snacks that are associated with drinking alcohol return. Or it can have you heading straight to your favorite chipper or pizza place on the way back from the pub..
So, our advice is, take it easy when re introducing alcohol back into your diet and if you are finding it difficult avoiding sugary snacks when you do have a glass of beer or wine, then it may be better, for the time being to avoid alcohol for another while. Otherwise, to Atkins and alcohol, sláinte!
Recently I came across this blog alcohol on a low carb diet which also explains the effects of alcohol on our systems.
To help, here is a handy reference table of how many carbs are in various alcoholic beverages.
|Beverage||Serving Size||Net Carbs(g)|
|Light Beer||500ml(approx.1 pint)||8.0|
|Dark Ale||500ml(approx.1 pint)||15.0|
|Pale Ale||500ml(approx.1 pint)||10.0|
|Sweet Cider||500ml(approx.1 pint)||20.0|
|Baileys Irish Cream||50ml||7.4|
|Sugar Free Tonic Water||100ml||4.0|
*Sláinte (SLAHN-chə) is a word literally translating as “health” and is commonly used as a drinking toast in Ireland.