People ask me often about alcohol and how it fits in the Primal way of life, after all, the Primal man couldn’t just nip down to the local bottle shop at the end of the day and pick up a six pack and a bottle of wine for his cavewoman, could he?
I have always loved my alcohol, from scotch and whisky, gin and tonics, to all the types of white wine. Unfortunately, like many of you, I am allergic to red wine, the tannins in the red skins give me terrible headaches.
One of my favourite jobs I ever had was working in a high-end wine store. I got to read about and taste a fantastic array of not only wines but champagnes, ports and sherries too! I was in chicken heaven….
Unfortunately all the alcohol I was along with all the snack foods I was consuming combined to add more than one or two centimetres to my waistline! Most of us know that alcohol lowers our inhibitions, but did you know it actually can stimulate your appetite and make you want to eat a lot of things you normally wouldn’t? I’m putting the kebabs down to that anyway…
I was slowly putting on an extra roll of fat around my middle, and I was becoming quite a portly chicken. Even after I left the wine store job I continued my love affair with alcohol; the white wines had become my flavour of choice.
Whenever I was going out to an event, I would check prior what wine was going to be available and whether I could get a lift or public transport to enable me to be able to indulge even further. I couldn’t wait till I got home each night to crack open a new fresh bottle, guzzle down the fantastic contents until I got that lovely buzz going in my head. The wine had become a habit, one that although I knew it wasn’t healthy for me, I still continued to indulge… to the tune of up to 2 bottles a day! That is a lot of empty calories I was absorbing with every mouthful, and it took me a long time to realise I was a high functioning alcoholic.
But all ‘good’ things must come to an end, and once I decided to change my diet, I gradually said farewell to my old friend wine, even though it helped me through my other battle with sugar. http://primalflavours.com.au/2016/06/04/great-sugar-battle-2015/ I eventually let it go completely, and it helped that the change to a new and more active lifestyle, along with having a partner in the Primal Labrador who has absolutely no interest in alcohol, enable me to learn to get my pleasure elsewhere.
I have no problem with the idea of a gin and tonic or a glass of ice cold Pinot Grigio at the end of a long hot day, but I no longer have that little voice in the back of my head saying I ‘need’ a drink. Most people can enjoy their alcohol without it affecting their lives, but for some of us, it is easier to abstain. 🙂
While doing my study for the Primal Health Coaching course, www.primalhealthcoach.com, I looked quite in-depth at alcohol and the effects on nutrition. If you enjoy a drink, it can be very handy to know what some of the better options are, and which varieties can fit within a Primal lifestyle, so you don’t significantly hamper your efforts to lose weight or feel healthy.
Clear liquors, at around 40% alcohol can be considered Primal alcohol, and of course anything that tastes sweet is not going to work because of the sugar content. Carbohydrates are the primary factor we’re considering, as we want our liquor to have as little impact on blood sugar (totally different to blood alcohol levels!)as possible, so spirits in this regard are the best choice. Keep in mind that these are empty calories, meaning that you’re not going to get much nutritional value from a glass of Scotch! 😉
Spirits (30ml serving)
100 – 120 calories per serve depending on brand, there are just too many to list, but the carbs are generally between 0 – 1 grams per 30ml serve.
Of course what mixers you add to these spirits will have an enormous impact on the calories and carbs, so try to go for sugar-free tonic waters and sodas as opposed to fruit juices and sugar laden colas. Good quality spirits should be sipped straight, or over ice with just a touch of cold filtered water.
Unfortunately beer, wine and champagne are usually higher in carbohydrates, and since many are made from fruit, sugar or wheat, they can start to raise your blood sugar quickly when you consume them in large quantities. As you can see from the list below, if you’re trying to keep your total carbohydrates including food between 50-100 these numbers can add up quickly, but one or two a day should be okay:
Red Wines (147ml. serving)
Cabernet Sauvignon:120 calories, 3.8 carbs
Pinot Noir: 121 calories, 3.4 carbs
Merlot: 120 calories, 3.7 carbs
White Wines (147ml. serving)
Pinot Grigio (my favourite, like drinking lime with a slightly sweet honey finish):122 calories, 3.2 carbs
Sauvignon Blanc: 122 calories, 2.7 carbs
Chardonnay: 118 calories, 3.7 carbs
Riesling: 118 calories, 5.5 carbs
Champagne (although low in alcohol content, so you’d need to drink more): 96 calories, 1.5 carbs
Beers (Australian, 375ml serving)
Corona Extra (330ml Bottle): 82 clories 6.6 carbs
Tooheys New: 98 calories 7.5 carbs
Pure Blone (355ml Bottle): 107 calories 3.2 carbs
XXXX Gold: 109 calories 7.1 carbs
Cooper Original Pale Ale: 131 calories 6.2 carbs
Carlton Draft: 139 calories 10.1 carbs
Little Creatures Pale Ale (330ml bottle): 156 calories 10.6 carbs
The problem with the drinks below is no matter which way you look at them; they contain way too much sugar. Avoid these as they could set your weight loss and health efforts back for up to a week or two due to forcing your body to have to cope with the sugar rush!
Whisky sour mix
Frozen margarita mixes
Liquor Flavoured Alcohol (Coconut Rum, Peach Schnapps, etc.)
Juices (Cranberry, Orange, Pineapple, Tomato, etc.)
Fruit add-ins (cherries, berries, pineapples, oranges, etc.)
Syrups (fudge, whipped cream, fruit flavoured syrups,
sweet creams, coconut cream)
All about Alcohol
a.k.a. The technical bits but still damn fascinating
When we drink alcohol, our bodies will put everything else on hold and will burn(metabolise) the alcohol first to get rid of it, as in reality alcohol is a toxin.
Alcohol is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and will have an almost immediate effect on you, that wonderful, delicious ‘buzz’ you get within the first mouthful or two… or three 😛
The liver will work quickly to remove the alcohol before it can begin to harm our organs, converting it first to acetaldehyde, and then acetate. The majority is cleared this way, but a little will escape into our urine and our breath, which is what the police are checking for when they ask you to do a breath test.
Frequent consumption not only increases insulin resistance but the production of the appetite hormone Ghrelin as well, so yes it is supported by science that having a few drinks will make you hungry!
Because alcohol inhibits both fat and glucose burning, as this is put on hold while our body deals with the alcohol, any calories consumed while our body is busy are likely to be stored as FAT to be addressed later, thus interfering with any weight loss program we’re on. Hopefully, this gives you an idea why sugary alcohol drinks are so bad; every single calorie goes straight to your hips… give me chocolate cake instead any day!
If you are going to drink alcohol, it should be drunk alone, without consuming food. Let me clarify I don’t mean drinking by yourself! 🙂 I know drinking without eating may mean the effects of the alcohol are more significant, but from a pure health perspective, it’s better for your body.
It’s a common saying, but alcohol is best when consumed in moderation. A really interesting point is that once your body is fat adapted and you’re living a Primal Lifestyle, you’ll find that you’ll need much less alcohol to give you the same buzz you enjoy and the amount you used to enjoy leaves you rather…