Alcohol on the Paleo Diet
Being on the Paleo diet can make it seem difficult to go out to restaurants, bars, and social events. Avoiding grains, in particular, can prove problematic–especially when it comes to alcohol. Alcohol is a food that should be consumed in moderation, according to leading Paleo dietitians like Dr. Cordain. So where does that leave those who still want to go out and have a good time?
The most important considerations when it comes to drinking on the Paleo diet are (1) avoiding grain-based drinks and (2) limiting glycemic load. These go hand in hand to some extent, but non-grain-based alcohol also often carries a glycemic load that needs to be taken into account–albeit a lower one. The first can be accomplished by choosing an appropriate type of alcohol and the second by controlling portion size.
Should You Drink on the Paleo Diet?
Moderate alcohol consumption is actually associated with a 20-30% reduction in the likelihood of coronary heart disease risk, among other beneficial effects. Of course, by moderate we’re talking about the equivalent of one or two alcohol beverages per day, so don’t delude yourself when it comes to regulating your alcohol intake. With that disclaimer in mind, certain types of alcohol can have favorable properties that may warrant their inclusion in your diet.
Acceptable Types of Alcohol on the Paleo Diet
If you’re one of the 50%+ of Americans who drink on a regular basis, it’s important to choose what you drink–and how much of it you drink–carefully. Some types of alcohol are better than others. Avoiding grain-based alcoholic beverages like beer, whiskey, and even many types of vodka that are not 100% potato based.
- Red Wine. Red wine is an excellent choice for drinking on the Paleo diet. Its glycemic load is relatively low and, as it is fermented from grapes, it does not contain any grains. Additionally, it’s a great source of antioxidants and phytochemicals, including phenolic acids, catechins, flavonoids, resveratrol, tannins, cyanidin, proanthocyanidins, and flavonols. Some compounds in red wine also exhibit mild antibacterial and antiviral activity.
- Tequila. Processed from agave, this liquor contains no grains, making it suitable for those on the Paleo diet. Be careful that you’re getting tequila that’s 100% from agave, as some tequilas may have corn syrup or other sugars added.
- Rum. Rum is fermented from cane sugar and, unless it has additives for some reason, is an acceptable option for Paleo dieters.
- Certain Vodkas. Not all vodkas are grain-free, but those that are 100% potato vodka are. Be careful when consuming vodka as there are many types that are at least in part, if not entirely, distilled from grains. Consult someone at your liquor store if you’re unsure.
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