The Paleolithic Alcoholic

Or: How to accommodate binge drinking into a VLC, paleolithic eating and exercise plan.

I’ve been eating paleo for about a month now, and so far I’m very happy with the results. I’m leaner, stronger and more energetic, even though I’ve only been an 80% adherent at best. Recently, I’ve started looking at small changes I can make to start shaving off that last 20%. One obvious candidate is alcohol.

You see, I’m twenty-five years old and I like to drink. My friends like to drink. Almost every single weekend, I get drunk 1-3 nights in a row.  Is this a problem? Perhaps. But it’s not one I’d like to address just now.

If you’re young, trying to live paleo, and not a social outcast, this might be a problem you face as well. Here are a few quick tips for other paleo weekend warriors who are seeking to maximize their gains from a paleo fitness plan, but unwilling to jettison their undergrad boozing habits.

1) Drink smart

No, I don’t mean in moderation. That’s pussy talk. For a paleo party animal, drinking smart means focusing on the liquor itself and not the sugar-laden mixers that often come with it. Drink your whiskey straight ya fairy, instead of mixing it with a litre of coke. Drink one man’s beer instead of 6 sugary bud-piss-lights.  Check out Mark Sisson’s ranking, and try to stay close to the top.

2) Fast before you booze

Not eating for 12-24 hours before you get sauced means you can get the same amount of drunk for less alcohol. Also, your liver will be empty and ready to soak up the booze and the glucose that probably came with it, keeping the ensuing insulin spike to a more reasonable level.

3) Workout before you booze

There’s no better time to hit the gym than right before a big night out. For one thing, you’ll look and feel fresh, but more importantly, you’ll clean out the last sugar from your bloodstream. Better still, you’ll be a cheaper drunk than the 100-pound girl who snuck a mickey into her prom, which means less total alcohol/mixer for your body to deal with.

4) Exercise while you’re drunk

Hopefully you’ll be dancing at some point in your night, and doing your best to take a lady home for some bedroom plyometrics. If you’re really serious about your health, try to find a big one. And if you strike out, walk or jog home. Cabs are for men who aren’t fat and thus can bring girls home from the bar.

Exercise is a good thing any time, but at 3am when you’re burning off the 20 rum and cokes that are coursing through your vascular system, it’s a very good thing.

5) How much do you really need to drink? Really?

I’m not going to guilt you about being an alcoholic. Pot, kettle, etc. But ask yourself: Do you really need to drink 20 beers tonight? What are you seeking? For what problem is alcohol the solution?

Personally: Yes, sometimes I would like to drink 20 beers, and it’s an experience every man owes himself occasionally. I am seeking laughter, amusement, and sluts. Alcohol is a solution to boredom, uptightness, shyness, and a fear of non-conformity. Both in myself and others.

But alcohol can generally conquer these vices of good behaviour in fairly small amounts. Have a few beers and a shot (especially after a fast and a workout) and you’ll be just as loosened up as you will after 15 drinks.


So what does this look like in practice? let me run down a typical weekend for me:

Thursday, 9pm: Hearty paleo dinner, capping off a stellar 5 days of exercise and primal eating

Friday: Skip lunch, do not eat all day. Intense workout of pushups, pullups, jump-squats and yoga at 6pm. Feel light-headed occasionally, but fasting-induced hunger seems to result in more energy (although less strength). Enter semi-meditative state of release from earthly desires while stretching and cooling down.

7pm: Short nap, shower

9pm: Meet friends at a party. Drink three beers and feel like I’ve had eight.

11pm: Go to a bar. Shots! Nurse 2-4 vodka waters all night. More shots!

Between 3-5am: A giant feast of whatever food I want, kicking off my weekly “cheat day.”

Saturday, 11am: Gigantic mostly-paleo breakfast, but will eat french toast or waffles if I want. Cheat day officially ends Saturday night.

Saturday night: Take it easy and return immediately to a paleo lifestyle. Or, go out and do it all over again, hence why I do not look like an underwear model, but merely like a guy who girls will sleep with for free.

Sunday, late-AM: Yoga class or long walk. Reflect on sins and indiscretions of a weekend past, and general emptiness of modern life. Slide comfortably and eagerly back into a healthy routine.

It’s not ideal. It’s not even pretty. But if you’re not ready to take a more adult approach to alcohol and drinking, that’s how you can minimize the damage.

Addendum:  Martin Berkhan has some great info here. (HT: Workshy Joe)