6 Best Keto-Friendly Drinks (& The Ones You Should Skip)
Proper hydration is key to a successful keto diet. Yes, ingesting enough water, tea, and other healthy drinks is important no matter what diet you follow. But, drinking enough (and of the absolute best keto drinks no less!) is especially crucial for keto dieters.
The need for adequate, frequent and healthy hydration stems, in part, from the tenants of the diet itself. Some beverages, like water, tea, and diet soda are naturally keto-compliant, but there are others that have been created and marketed with the trendy eating regimen in mind.
We compiled a list of the best keto drinks worth buying while you're following the keto diet. Scroll down to see what libations you should be stocking up on.
Why choose a keto drink?
If you're on the keto diet, choosing a keto-friendly drink is obviously a necessity in order to maintain ketosis. Hydrating and hearty beverages are also important to keto dieters because the eating regimen (which mandates high fat, moderate amounts of protein and a low intake of carbs) might initially throw your body for a loop.
"As keto-ers transition to this high fat, moderate protein, very low carbohydrate diet, they'll want to pay close attention to where their fluids, electrolytes, and nutrients are coming from," says Pam Nisevich Bede, MS, RD and a keto expert with Abbott's ZonePerfect.
"At the onset of the keto diet, and throughout, dehydration can be common since carbohydrates are all but eliminated from the diet, taking with them some of the fluid they store. And drinking water alone won't do the trick; your body needs electrolytes like sodium and potassium to maintain fluid balance and stay hydrated."
Sofia Norton, RD, a registered dietitian at Kiss My Keto notes the diet also often has a diuretic effect, especially at the start. "When people restrict carbs, insulin levels drop which causes glycogen stores to deplete. Glycogen is bound to water, so when your body uses glycogen it needs to get rid of extra water attached to it," she says.
"This can put you at risk of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and kidney stones. It can also cause 'keto flu,' a constellation of symptoms caused by electrolyte imbalances and low blood sugar on a keto diet. Luckily, staying hydrated can prevent all of this. However, drinking plain water may not be enough. You need a drink that's rich in electrolytes and low in carbs. One that's also high in fat will deliver a one-two punch."
What are the different types of keto drinks?
As will just about anything else on the market today, there are a wide variety of keto-approved beverages to choose from—some are intentionally high in fat, some are low-sugar versions of common drinks, and others are just plain drinks that are compliant on keto, such as water, diet soda and tea. As you may have guessed, people may choose to drink different keto-compliant drinks for a myriad of reasons.
"Beverages that are considered acceptable on the keto diet include all beverages that contain no or very little carbohydrates," says Jim White, RD, ACSM, and owner of Jim White Fitness Nutrition Studios. "Sugar-free beverages are also keto-friendly. Some of these beverages are recommended as part of a balanced nutritious lifestyle and include water, sparkling water or seltzer, herbal tea, coffee, and unsweetened nut milks. Others, like diet soft drinks, are considered keto-friendly but are generally not recommended by registered dietitians as part of a healthy diet. Some keto dieters also choose bone broth as a beverage."
Aside from the aforementioned "regular" drinks that fall under the keto-compliant umbrella, there are also beverages that are marketed specifically to keto dieters to consider. "When you see keto drinks on the market that actually contain a high fat content, these are beverages that can be used as part of a meal during the day," says Love Wellness advisor Kylene Bogden, RD. "When you see zero calorie/zero carb beverages such as diet soda, these drinks would be used as a beverage for a meal vs. in replacement of a meal or snack."
However, White notes that not all drinks marketed as keto-friendly are necessarily the healthiest options out there. Those that are high in saturated fat, for example, should be avoided. "Beverages high in saturated fat are not considered healthful choices by registered dietitians," he says. "According to the American Heart Association, only 5-6 percent of total calories should come from saturated fat for optimal heart health. For most people, that translates to somewhere between 10 and 16 grams of saturated fat per day. Keto-specific beverages can contain up to a whole day's worth of saturated fat in just one serving."
Below is a general list of keto-compliant drink categories:
- Sparkling water
- Coffee (unsweetened)
- Diet/zero-sugar sodas
- Tea (unsweetened)
- Bone broth
- Non-dairy milk alternatives (unsweetened)
- Protein shakes
- Hard liquor
What are the nutrition standards that a keto-friendly drink must meet?
"[Keto-friendly] drinks should have as few carbs as possible, ideally less than 5 g in a serving. The most hydrating drinks will have at least a bit of electrolytes as electrolyte depletion often accompanies dehydration. Similarly, taking electrolytes helps restore their balance, which is necessary for maintaining fluid balance," says Norton. "These drinks don't need to be high-fat, though, but it can help if they are since fat provides energy on a keto diet. Another option is to drink containing exogenous ketones—man-made ketones that make transitioning into a low-carb lifestyle easier."
Adds Dr. Will Cole, who is also a nutritionist: "For a beverage to be considered 'keto', its dietary macro breakdown must be at least 70 percent fats and at most 5 percent carbs."
Here are the best keto drinks you can buy.
Though the nutrition profile of the "best" drinks can change depending on what you're looking for, generally speaking, you should look for a drink that has more fat than carbs (though limited saturated fat) and not too much sugar.
"The nutrient content of the beverage chosen would actually depend on what the individual is planning to eat that day," says Bogden, who notes that drinks with around 2 grams of carbs per serving is ideal.
Cole, who consults with REBBL Protein, is a fan of the brand's beverages. "REBBL is my preferred keto beverage because it tastes amazing. Every bottle is filled with real, organic ingredients," he says. "There are no artificial sweeteners or additives, and you can taste that difference. It's decadent and delicious while also having the optimal keto dietary macro breakdown of 75 percent fats, 20 percent proteins, and 5 percent carbs. Plus, each bottle contains some of my favorite herbs and adaptogens like maca for stamina, ashwagandha for stress support, and reishi for immunity." Just note that some flavors are pretty high on the carb count, so always check the label first.
"This drink helps you hit your optimal keto macros, supplying 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and 5 percent carbs (with only 3 g total carbs per serving). A perfect meal accompaniment or snack, this on-the-go option is designed to help keto-ers burn fat for fuel and stay on track," says Bede. "Snacks have the potential to make or break a diet and the ZonePerfect Keto Shake is a convenient, portable drink option that can help keep you hydrated while on-the-go."
As far as keto-compliant drinks go, bone broth is one of the most nutritious choices. "Bone broth is a beverage some keto dieters choose. It is a source of protein and calories but is very low in carbohydrates," says White. "There is generally no problem in sipping on bone broth for hydration, but people with high blood pressure must be aware that bone broth contains sodium."
Yes, plain black and green teas are keto-approved (and very healthy) but if you're looking for something with a bit more flavor, this will do the trick. "This new sparkling drink is made from tea leaves, fruit extracts, and natural sweeteners like stevia," says SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD. "It's a great option for keto dieters because it's free of carbs and calories. It's also lightly carbonated, so it can satisfy a craving for fizz without being as heavy as a soda."
Available on Spritztea.com.
Though nut milks tend to be higher in calories than the aforementioned keto-compliant drinks, they're still safe for keto dieters to drink and boast very little saturated fat and sodium. This variety is also very low in sugar because it is unsweetened. "Nut milks (i.e. almond milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk, etc.) and creamers can be a nutritious part of any diet and are approved on keto diets as long as they are unsweetened," says White. "Unsweetened nut milks do contain calcium and vitamin D though and are low in sugar so they are considered a nutritious beverage choice."
Boring as it may be, water was the no. 1 keto-friendly drink amongst the dietitians and nutritionists we spoke to. "We all need water for normal body functions. If you are on a keto diet, drink enough water so that you have regular bowel movements," says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, who serves on the advisory board for Fitter Living. "Most if not all fiber-rich foods are limited or restricted on a keto diet, so you may experience constipation. Fiber-rich foods help with regular bowel movements. So, give your body some extra water to make sure that you don't get constipated on a high fat, low fiber keto diet."
Here are the worst keto-friendly drinks we could find.
"Some beverages are specifically marketed to keto dieters for their nutrition profile. Several brands and types of beverages claim to be keto-approved and keto-friendly," says White.
However, the drinks noted below don't get this dietitian's seal of approval. "These beverages are typically quite high in total and saturated fat. While this is not discouraged on a keto diet, beverages high in saturated fat are not considered healthful choices by registered dietitians. According to the American Heart Association, only 5-6 percent of total calories should come from saturated fat for optimal heart health. For most people, that translates to somewhere between 10 and 16 grams of saturated fat per day. Keto-specific beverages can contain up to a whole day's worth of saturated fat in just one serving."
As far as diet sodas are concerned, while they are technically keto-approved, they have zero nutritional value, which makes them a poor choice. We used Diet Coke as an example.
This drink may be marketed to keto dieters, but it's a far from perfect choice. With 10 grams of carbs (5 grams of net carbs) it's pushing the limit with the amount of carbs you're permitted to have on the keto diet. It's also high in saturated fat and sodium.
Yes, this is considered a meal-replacement shake, but considering there are 19 grams of saturated fat in just a 4-ounce serving (and only 2 grams of protein), we'd skip this one.
3. Diet Coke
"Diet sodas technically align with a keto diet because they often contain little to no carbohydrates. However, try to limit diet sodas" Miller says. "Some contain caffeine, and having too much caffeine during the day can be dehydrating. Diet sodas don't contain added sugars like a regular soda, but they do have some artificial sweeteners. For the general public, artificial sweeteners in drinks are safe to consume, but there are some health conditions that need to avoid certain sweeteners (i.e. people with PKU should avoid aspartame; sugar alcohols may cause GI problems in those with IBS). Diet sodas are also low-calorie. That being said, having diet soda may still prevent you from drinking enough water. While diet sodas are low-calorie, they lack any nutrition."