Is Vodka Keto-Friendly?

Imge of Is Vodka Keto-Friendly?



There seems to be a common misconception that all alcoholic beverages must be loaded with carbohydrates. The purpose of this article is to wade into the clear waters of the nutritional science of vodka and see if this claim can be challenged.

We will first give some background information and analyze the nutritional profile of this very popular beverage. Using this knowledge as a starting point, we will discover if vodka is keto-friendly and why, suggest other low-carb alternatives, and finally answer some frequently asked questions.

This is an important beverage to examine as consumption has increased in recent years.


What is vodka?

This is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is colorless. It is made by fermenting a carbohydrate source such as grains or potatoes to create the alcohol. The alcohol is then reduced by mixing water and purified by using a distillation method. 

The alcoholic content varies from 40 to 60 percent. This is known as proof in the US, with the proof score always double the alcoholic percentage. So 40% alcohol is 80 proof and so on.

This drink is believed to have originated in Russia or Poland in the 8th or 9th century, but all agree that by the 13th century this was a staple beverage in the Russian empire. It wasn't until post World War 2 that it got introduced to the West.

Currently the largest producers globally are Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Poland, with Poland being the largest producer in the EU.


Vodka nutrition facts

A shot typically contains 1.5 fluid ounces or approximately 42 ml. This is considered the standard serving size for distilled alcohols, and has been used as the reference for the nutrition scores for macros in the list below. 

Serving size: 1.5 fl. oz (42 g) of vodka, equal to 1 shot

  • Calories: 97 kcal
  • Fat: 0 g 
  • Net carbohydrates (total carbs - fiber): 0 g
  • Total carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g

As you can see, this drink contains nothing but calories. These calories are derived from the alcohol content. Each gram of alcohol is a costly 7 calories. 

The standard alcohol fraction of distilled beverages is 40% or 80 proof, and this is the product used for the analysis. If you get 100 or 120 proof beverages, the calorie count will be higher.

Per serving, this beverage contains tiny traces of iron, copper and some B vitamins, but nowhere near enough to make any meaningful difference.

However, the important takeaway is that it is a zero-carb alcoholic beverage and won’t affect your carb limit for keto.



Can you drink vodka on a keto diet?

As it is zero-carb, yes, vodka is keto-friendly. However, be careful not to overdo it as this beverage is still highly calorific and excess calories translate into weight gain. There is also the element of addiction to alcohol and all the disease risks associated with alcoholism.


How much can you drink on the keto diet?

The government guidelines as set by the CDC advise that drinking in moderation means a maximum of 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink for women. For distilled alcoholic beverages, one drink is equal to a 1.5 fluid oz serving. 

As weight loss is a common objective in keto dieters, we would recommend having no more than one drink a day, with possible exceptions for the odd celebratory event, where two can be consumed. 


What kind of vodka can you have on keto?

Is flavored vodka keto-friendly? What about pasta sauce? Let’s see some examples to determine which varieties are okay for a low-carb plan:  

  • Smirnoff Red White and Berry Flavor - this beverage is a 60 proof variety and infused with berry flavors. It contains 4.1 g of net carbohydrates per serving of 1.5 fluid oz, compared to 0 carbohydrates for non-flavored versions. Hence, plain vodka is more keto-friendly than flavored,  but some flavors may be low enough in carbohydrates. Simply check the nutrition label to make sure. 
  • High Noon Fruit Flavored Hard Seltzer -  there are a whole bunch of flavors with this brand. The drinks are packaged in slim cans with a volume of 12 fluid oz or approx 340 ml. The net carbohydrates range from 2.3 to 2.9 g depending on the flavor. On keto it would be ok to have one of these cans occasionally, but be sure to keep track of the extra carbs consumed when you plan your meals for that day. 
  • Bertolli Vodka Sauce - this pasta sauce incorporates vodka in its long list of ingredients and is meant to taste great when poured over your pasta. However, a half-cup serving has 9 g of net carbs and so is best avoided on a keto diet. You can make your own version of the sauce at home, which will considerably lower the net carb cost.   


What are keto-friendly vodka mixers?

This drink can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. The list below mention just some of them:

  • On its own, in a shot glass, with or without ice.
  • Mixed with soda water and a squeeze of lime.
  • Infused with fresh fruit, like lemon or watermelon slices.
  • As part of a cocktail, ensuring the other ingredients are also keto-compliant.
  • To create your own pasta sauce.

Keto-friendly vodka alternatives

  • Whiskey -  this beverage is prepared in a similar manner, but the differences lie in that it is distilled fewer times and to a lower degree, and that it is aged. These allow for admixtures to remain in the final product as well as color absorbed from the barrels during aging. As a result, with whiskey there are far more subtleties and nuances when it comes to flavor, both due to the aging process and method and also depending on what carbohydrate substrate is used. An average 1.5 fluid oz shot of 80 proof whiskey contains very similar nutritional properties as vodka and therefore be treated as such, namely a maximum of one serving per day.  
  • Rum - plain, unsweetened rum is also okay for one serving per day at most. In essence, rum is made in the same way as whiskey, the difference lying in the choice of substrate used for fermentation. Whiskey is made from a grain mash whereas rum is produced using sugar cane or molasses as carbohydrate source.
  • Wine - a 5 fluid oz or approximately 150 ml serving of red table wine is considered low-to-moderate carb with a cost of 3.8 g of net carbs. This is okay on keto if consumed occasionally. It is important to plan ahead if you are wanting to have wine to ensure you have enough carbs in your allowance to accommodate the meal.


FAQ about drinking vodka on a keto diet

The section below will answer some questions that are commonly posed about the topic of having vodka on a low-carb plan. 

It is made by fermenting a carbohydrate source such as grains or potatoes.

The fermentation of the carbohydrate substrate helps break down the long scratch molecules into individual sugar units. Yeast is then added to metabolize these sugars and create alcohol as  a byproduct. This is then distilled many times over and then mixed with water to create the desired strength. 

Excellent question!  The yeast ferments the sugars into alcohol. Then the multiple distilling processes carried out to create the drink ensure that only pure alcohol remains, and all carbs are eliminated from the final product

Other than empty calories, I’m afraid not. It contains zero carbs, protein, and fat.

While this drink does contain a small amount of minerals and some B vitamins per serving, it’s nowhere near enough to be considered a good source of micronutrients. 

This is a bit of a paradox! To test for glycemic index you need to first ingest 50 g of carbohydrate of test food. However this is not possible with vodka as it has zero carbs! So in effect all distilled alcoholic beverages have a glycemic index of zero.


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