Alcohol: Making good choices
Your waiter comes over to your table and asks, “What can I get you to drink?” Do you have an answer ready that you know will be a good choice?
The good news is that alcohol is permitted (in moderation) on a primal diet. But all alcohol is not created equal. The question that arose for me was “what type of alcohol would be a good choice and what would be a poor choice?” To answer that question I did what I always do – I started researching.
Choosing which alcohol to drink will be influenced by your goals and your motivation levels to achieve them. I knew I wanted to stay compliant with a very low carb diet and I also wanted to avoid grains, gluten, sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Straightaway that knocked quite a few drinks off the menu for me.
My “poor choice” list
The following drinks are too high in carbs and sugar:
- Spirit mixers with fizzy drinks, cordials or fruit juice, e.g, brandy and coke; gin and tonic; vodka and orange juice
- Wine/spirit coolers, e.g. Smirnoff Ice
- Sweet cocktails e.g., those with little umbrellas and lots of fruit
- Jelly shots
- Regular shots, e.g. Apple Sours
- Liqueurs e.g. Frangelico, Kahlua, Amaretto etc.
- Cream spirits, e.g., Baileys or Amarula
And these drinks are made from grains and could contain gluten:
- Beer, Stout
- Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch
- Some vodkas
My “good choice” list:
- Red wine (the best option by far)
- Dry white wine
- Dry sparkling wine/champagne
- Potato vodka
I suggest that you read labels and use the internet as a resource to check out the carb grams in specific drinks. For example, a glass (150 ml ) of red wine will be about 4 grams of carbs, compared to a beer which can have between 10 and 15 grams (light beers usually half of that). A gin and tonic has 18 grams of carbs! A Smirnoff Ice has a whopping 32 grams of carbs. One of those would be almost my entire daily allowance of carbs.
Mixing spirits with plain soda water or sparkling mineral water is always going to be a better option. A whiskey and soda is much better than a whiskey and coke. But bear in mind that it’s possible that distillation of the whiskey doesn’t remove 100% of the gluten. So if you suffer from Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, then be very careful. And please don’t kid yourself into believing that mixing spirits with diet drinks is OK – they are full of Aspartame, which will really damage your health.
Try this recipe for a Norcal Margarita, made famous by Paleo guru Robb Wolf.
- 2 shots of high quality tequila
- The juice and pulp of one lime
- Club soda to taste
- Shake it up
- Serve on the rocks
So now that we know what to drink , the next question is “how much?”
I try, as much as possible, to limit alcoholic drinks to the weekends. In this way I don’t consume unnecessary calories and extra carbs during the week. Delayed gratification also makes that glass of wine on a Friday evening taste absolutely fantastic!
If you are waking up in the morning with a hangover or no idea how you got home, then maybe you should seriously think about cutting back. Your liver will be very grateful.
I have also found that when I limit my alcohol consumption to one or two glasses of wine, it is much easier to remain in control of what I eat.
So in summary, think about what your goals are. Make good choices that will help you to achieve those goals. Read labels. Drink in moderation, have fun and know your limits.
Put away your beer goggles
They mess with your vision and often result in a variety of very poor choices that you regret in the morning.