Is There a Paleo Alcohol? 10 Tips to Drink Alcohol and Avoid the Hangover Without Ruining Your Paleo Diet [+Infographic and Video]
You don’t want to destroy all the hard work you’ve put into your diet and lifestyle. You really don’t.
On the other hand, you have a life. You need to hang out with friends and family. And who could possibly do that without having an alcoholic drink or 5?
I’m not going to sugar-coat the facts – alcohol isn’t really Paleo. And – more importantly – alcohol is not helping you reach whatever health goals you want to achieve. (Here’s an article on 7 huge reasons to ditch alcohol.)
But! There are ways to make alcohol less toxic, to keep your Paleo diet more intact, and…gasp…to reduce hangovers.
10 Ways to Ensure that Drinking Doesn’t Derail Your Diet and Leave You Hungover
As a quick aside, people argue all the time about whether alcohol is healthy and whether it’s Paleo. On both accounts, it’s mostly just wishful thinking.
The studies showing that alcohol is potentially healthy are usually confounded by the enhanced social life and recreation that usually goes along with drinking – factors that are very hard to measure, but very important.
All that said, I still drink sometimes. When I do drink, though, I follow the tips below to minimize unwanted effects.
First, here’s a quick video I put together with 7 of the tips:
Infographic of All 10 Tips
Please pin it or share it on social media!
Do These Things All the Time Anyway
1. Eat Less Polyunsaturated Fat.
Yep – avoiding Omega-6 fats is important not only for decreasing inflammation but also because Omega-6 fats make it much more likely that alcohol will damage your liver.
One study (courtesy of Paul Jaminet) showed that a diet high in corn oil (i.e. high in Omega-6) and alcohol led to both liver disease and metabolic syndrome, whereas a diet not high in Omega-6 fats did not. (1)
2. Eat More Saturated Fat.
And if you want a more specific suggestion, eat more coconut oil, as it’s protective against fatty liver disease. (4)
When You’re Drinking….
3. Drink the Right Alcohol.
Or at least don’t drink the wrong ones. Beer, although many of the toxins are broken down by fermentation, is still highly toxic and still has some gluten in it. (5) Avoid at all costs.
And, as sad as it makes me, red wine is high in mycotoxins, sulfites, and phenolics, as Dave Asprey points out. If you’re going to drink, do it with distilled liquors like vodka, brandy, rum, tequila, or whisky, or with a dry white wine.
4. Skip the Mixers!
Just about anything that normally gets mixed with alcohol is not Paleo at all and is not healthy. From juice to soda to diet soda to sweet and sour mix, they all have some form of sugar or artificial sweetener, as well as a bunch of other additives.
Instead use club soda/soda water, which has no sugar. Beware of tonic water, which has added sugar.
5. Add Lemon or Lime for Insulin Sensitivity.
Alcohol is going to spike your blood sugar. There’s no way around that. But you can make yourself a little bit more insulin sensitive just by mixing in some lime or lemon. (6)
Plus, the acidity tastes great with most liquors.
6. Detox as You Go and Avoid the Hangover.
Certain supplements will protect your body against alcohol by helping you detox more quickly, prevent hangovers, and minimize the damage. (7)
The way to do it is to take a little bit of Vitamin C, a little bit of Cysteine, and a few B-Vitamins with each drink. See this article by Steven Fowkes for details.
7. Activated Charcoal
If you’re drinking something that is dark – rum, brandy, some tequilas, red wine – be aware that you’re getting a higher concentration of congeners – impurities that are produced during fermentation that can make a hangover even worse. (8)
Make sure that your body has some extra ability to clean up the internal mess by taking some activated charcoal, either while you’re drinking or immediately afterwards.
8. Have a Meal or Snack Ready.
One of the worst things that happens when you drink is actually that you tend to binge eat. I’m sure you have fond memories of pizza and other incredibly unhealthy meals after a night of drinking.
Next time, don’t kid yourself into believing that you’re going to make better decisions at the end of the night. Have a meal or snack lined up, so that you’ll be able to avoid the late-night pizza, sandwich, or whatever-other-non-Paleo-food you might eat.
9. Stop Drinking Early.
Alcohol disrupts your sleep a little no matter what time of day you drink. However, if you drink during the 2-3 hours before you’re planning on going to bed, it interferes with sleep even more.
According to Brandon Peters, MD, “As a general rule of thumb, it takes one hour for one serving of alcohol to be metabolized. Therefore, if you have a couple of drinks, you will want the last to be at least several hours before bedtime to avoid impacting your sleep.”
We all know how important sleep is. Get your drinking done early.
Advice You Probably Won’t Follow
10. Limit to 1-2 Drinks.
No matter what research you look at, all bets are off once you start drinking more than 1-2 drinks in a day. With 3 or more, diseases and lots of bad things become much more likely. (9)
Plus, you start making incredibly bad decisions. I don’t really think telling you this is a big shock to you, and it probably won’t make you drink that much less, but you should know…
The Bottom Line
No, there’s not really a Paleo alcohol, but choices can be made to mitigate the damage if you’re wanting to have a drink.
Paleo Health Coach Shelley Barker says, “If you MUST drink, do it as little as possible. And try to get stuff that will be a bit less horrible on your system, and isn’t full of sugar and gluten. For hard liquor, aim for silver tequila, gluten-free vodka, and other filtered clear liquors.”
I’m also a fan of the old club-soda-with-lime-masquerading-as-alcohol for social situations.
More articles on Paleo and Alcohol
Here’s to Your Health!
This post deserves to be ended with a toast, I think, and what’s more appropriate than to your health?
Alcohol isn’t going to make you healthier, but with a little planning, it can make you happy without completely throwing you under the bus at the same time.
Images (in order): Copyright (c) Fotolia Lukas Gojda.