Whether you are sticking to a diet or trying to watch your carbohydrate intake, it is helpful to know which beer has the least amount of carbs.
Currently, there are no zero-carb or no-carb beers on the market. Bud Light Next will be the first zero-carbohydrate beer when it comes out in 2022. Until then, low-carb beers are readily available with many national brands and an increasing number of craft beers coming in under 7g per serving. Budweiser Select 55 has the least with only 1.9g.
Read on for more information about the number of carbohydrates and sugar present in beer, as well as which beers and other alcoholic beverages align with a low-carb diet, such as the keto diet.
Are any beers zero-carb or no-carb?
If you are on a diet or otherwise trying to restrict your carbohydrate intake, you may have found yourself having to cut beer out entirely. Are there any zero-carb beers available that will fit into your lifestyle?
Until the release of Bud Light Next in 2022, there are no zero-carb or no-carb beers on the market. Most national brands and an increasing number of craft beers have a low-carb option with fewer than 7g of carbohydrates per serving.
According to a recent CNN article, developing Bud Light Next took nearly a decade and was originally called ‘Project Impossible’, if that helps give some insight into the feat that is zero-carb beer.
Until its launch next year, all beers have carbohydrates in them because of the ingredients that are fundamental to beer brewing.
Why do beers have carbohydrates in them?
If you’ve enjoyed your fair share of beers but haven’t paid much attention beyond the taste and the buzz, you may not realize everything that goes into brewing beer. Why is it such a big deal to take the carbs out of beer?
Beer is made by fermenting cereal grains, such as barley and wheat, which contain carbohydrates. These carbs are critical to fermentation, forming 90% of the wort extract. Up to 77% of those are converted into alcohol and carbonation.
The amount of carbohydrates left in a beer following fermentation varies depending on the ingredients that were used and fermentation time, but it is almost impossible to remove all the carbohydrates.
Some, as discussed below, can have as few as 1.9 grams of carbs, while others clock in at over 20 grams of carbohydrates per serving. That’s the same amount as about half a cup of pasta or white rice!
With the rise of low-carbohydrate diets such as Atkins, paleo, keto, and South Beach, breweries began brewing low-carb beers.
According to federal standards, for a beer to market itself as ‘low-carb,’ it cannot contain more than 7 grams of carbohydrates per serving. In an apparent bid to have the lowest low-carb, most of the big companies have developed low-carb beers that come in under 3 grams.
Do all beers have sugar in them?
As grains are processed and broken down during the fermentation process, they produce fermentable sugar maltose. Maltose feeds the yeast, converting that sugar into alcohol and carbonation.
Due to the efficiency of beer yeast, most regular beer has zero or next-to-zero grams of sugar after fermentation.
Compared to other alcoholic drinks, beer typically contains the least amount of sugar.
On the other hand, non-alcoholic beers often have more sugar in them than regular beer because sugar is usually added to make the non-alcoholic beer taste better after dealcoholization.
Coors Non-Alcoholic Lager has 8 grams of sugar in it, for instance, while Coors Light has 1 gram.
Which beers have the least amount of carbs in them?
We have established that all beer has carbohydrates in them (at least for now).
However, there are a number of beers and other alcoholic beverages available that are very low in carbohydrates. To be marketed as ‘low carb,’ federal standards dictate that there must be no more than 7g carbs per serving.
Below are some of the lowest-carb beers, hard seltzers, and hard liquors currently available.
5 of the best low-carb traditional beers
While many of us prefer craft beers, it cannot be denied that the larger traditional beer companies have the resources to experiment and develop new brewing processes.
Each of these low-carb options can be found easily at your local grocery or convenience store:
- Budweiser Select 55 Premium Light Lager
- Miller 64 Extra Light Lager
- Corona Premier Lager
- Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
- Lagunitas Daytime IPA
|Budweiser Select 55 Premium Light||Lager||1.8g||55|
|Miller 64 Extra Light||Lager||2.4g||64|
|Michelob Ultra Pure Gold||Lager||2.5g||85|
5 of the best low-carb hard seltzers
You may find hard seltzers sold beside beer in the grocery store or bottle shop. These fizzy drinks are fermented, usually with cane sugar although occasionally with malted barley, like beer. Some beer companies, such as Corona and Michelob, have also gotten into the hard seltzer craze.
Each of these low-carb hard seltzers come in a variety of fruit flavors:
- White Claw
- Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer
- Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer
- The Shell House (found at Trader Joe’s)
|Michelob ULTRA Organic Seltzer||0||80|
|Bon & Viv||1||90|
|The Shell House||5||120|
The best other low-carb alcoholic drinks
Other low-carb alcoholic alternatives include dry red or white wine and brut champagne. Dry and brut wines contain little to no sugar, as the majority of sugar was converted into alcohol during fermentation. Watch for words like ‘off-dry’ or, pointedly, ‘sweet’ when buying wine or bubbles – these contain more sugar than their dry or brut counterparts.
Best of all for those on a low-carb diet, spirits have no carbohydrates. All carbohydrates are removed in the distillation process, resulting in pure alcohol.
Some examples of low- or no-carbohydrate alcoholic drinks include dry wines, vodka, brut champagne, tequila, and gin. Calories vary depending on the brand, vintage, or proof.
|Beverage||Serving Size||Carbs||Approximate Calories|
|Dry red or white wine||5oz||2.5g||125|
For simple no-carb mixed drinks, enjoy a vodka and club soda or a dirty gin martini. Neither club soda nor olive juice contains carbohydrates. If you’re on the keto diet, you can even have a sugar-free mojito, only consuming between 1.5-3 grams of carbohydrates.
Avoid mixers like fruit juices, tonic, ginger ale, and sodas to keep the carbohydrate and calorie counts low.
Many hard ciders, liqueurs, and other malt beverages like Mike’s Hard Lemonade have higher amounts of carbohydrates and sugars in them.
Are any beers keto-friendly?
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet, similar to Atkins or paleo. By restricting carbohydrates and replacing them with fat, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. The body then uses that fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, leading to weight loss. People on a keto diet try to keep their daily carb intake at just 5-10% of total calories to maintain ketosis.
While that seems like a small allotment of carbs for a beer drinker, there are a number of beers on the market that can be considered keto-friendly. Almost anything that is marketed as ‘light’ will fall in this category, with just a few exceptions pushing the limit of the federally mandated 7-gram ceiling.
One caveat: while beers like those listed below are technically keto-friendly due to their low-carb status, alcohol can suppress fat-burning, which runs counter to the way the keto diet works. Drink in moderation to remain in ketosis (and for overall good health!).
10 of the best beers for the keto diet
With most of North America’s breweries committed to providing calorie and nutritional information of their beers by the end of 2020, it will be easier than ever to find the right beer to fit your diet.
Here are10 low-carb beers (and their carb count) that should be easily found in stores:
- Budweiser Select 55 Lager – 1.9g
- Corona Premier Lager – 2.6g
- Yuengling Flight Lager – 2.6g
- Pittsburgh Brewing IC Light – 2.8g
- Lagunitas Brewing Co. Daytime IPA – 3g
- Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty Lo-cal IPA – 3.6g
- Spoetzl Brewing Shiner Light Blonde – 3.8g
- Kona Brewing Co. Kahana Blonde – 4g
- Allagash Brewing Co. Saison – 4.8g
- Omission Brewing Co. Ultimate Light Golden Ale – 5g (this one is also gluten-free)
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