As the ketogenic diet has grown in popularity, many have wondered whether alcoholic beverages like tequila can be enjoyed while following a keto lifestyle. Tequila is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant, which contains natural sugars. However, much of the sugar is converted to alcohol during the distillation process. This leaves many wondering: is tequila keto-friendly?
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that forces the body to burn ketones rather than glucose for energy. By limiting carbohydrate intake to around 50 grams per day or less, the body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. When in ketosis, the body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for fuel. Ketosis also suppresses appetite, leading to effortless weight loss for many people.
Foods to eat on keto include:
- Full-fat dairy
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils
Foods to avoid include:
- Starchy vegetables
- Beans and legumes
- Root vegetables
Many have experienced excellent health benefits on the keto diet, such as:
- Weight loss
- Lowered blood sugar
- Decreased inflammation
- Improved mental clarity
- More energy
Carbohydrates in Tequila
Straight tequila by itself contains no carbohydrates, as all the sugar from the agave plant is converted to alcohol during the distillation process. However, many tequila brands will add flavorings, sugars and other additives after distillation that do contain carbs. For example, flavored tequilas like citrus or coffee flavors will likely have added sugars. Tequila bottled with an agave nectar blend will also contain extra carbs.
In addition, the way you drink tequila can impact the carbohydrate content. Mixing tequila with sugary juice blends or syrups will add carbohydrates. Some examples include margaritas, tequila sunrises, or mixing tequila with soda or juice.
Nutrition Facts for Tequila
Here are the nutrition facts for 1.5 fluid ounces or a typical shot of straight, unflavored tequila:
As you can see, straight tequila contains minimal carbohydrates and sugars. This makes it a keto-friendly alcohol option.
Impact on Ketosis
Even though straight tequila is low in carbs, it can still impact ketosis. This is because the main ingredient in tequila is still a sugar: agave nectar. The agave is converted to alcohol, but your body may still produce a small insulin response when you drink tequila.
In addition, excess calories from alcohol are stored as fat. This can slow down fat burning. Calories from alcohol can also kick you out of ketosis temporarily.
For these reasons, tequila should be limited on a ketogenic diet. An occasional shot or two will likely not affect ketosis too negatively. However, regular or excessive intake may slow down your progress.
Tips for Drinking Tequila on Keto
Here are some tips to enjoy tequila without kicking yourself out of ketosis:
- Drink straight, unflavored tequila when possible
- Avoid sugary tequila flavors or mixes
- Limit yourself to 1-2 shots max per day
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Avoid drinking tequila multiple days in a row
- Test ketones to ensure you stay in ketosis
Low-Carb Tequila Drink Options
You can still enjoy delicious tequila drinks without going overboard on the carbohydrates. Try these keto-friendly tequila options:
- 2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 ounce water
- Pinch of salt
- Optional: add a zero-carb sweetener like stevia or monk fruit
- Fill a glass with ice.
- Add tequila, lime juice, water, and sweetener if using.
- Mix thoroughly and salt the rim.
- Garnish with lime slice.
- 2 ounces tequila
- 4-6 ounces sparkling water
- Squeeze of lime
- Fill a glass with ice.
- Add tequila.
- Top with sparkling water.
- Squeeze in lime juice.
- Garnish with lime wedge.
Tequila and Zevia
Zevia is a zero-calorie soda sweetened with stevia. Combining it with tequila makes a keto-friendly mixed drink. Try mixing tequila with Zevia in flavors like:
- Ginger Root Beer
- Dr. Zevia
- Mountain Zevia
Use a 1:3 ratio of tequila to Zevia. Add lots of ice and garnish with lime or orange.
The Bottom Line
Is tequila keto? Straight, unflavored tequila can fit into a ketogenic lifestyle when consumed in moderation. Sugary tequila mixes and flavors will add carbs and should be limited or avoided. For the lowest carb options, drink tequila shots straight or make simple drinks like skinny margaritas, tequila sodas, or tequila with zero-carb mixers. Be mindful of calories and limit intake to 1-2 servings max per day.
With some adjustments, tequila can still be an enjoyable occasional treat in your low-carb lifestyle.