what do you do at bars?

by 626 · November 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM

I'm a young guy and a lot of my social life centers around bars/drinking.

Frankly, I really like drinking (both the physiological and social aspects of it). But I've also realized it's aggregate effects really suck, i.e. poor sleep, really bad food/behavioral choices when drunk (seriously drunk 2am pizza is one of life's cruelest double edged swords) not to mention the direct affects like hangover and weight gain and ultimate training effects.

The problem is moderation, when I am around people drinking immoderately (i.e. my entire age group, basically)--especially once I get a few drinks in me most of my nutritional plans go the same way as the beer I just drank. The old saying is really true: "you drink the first drink, the first drink drinks the second drink and the second drink drinks the next ten".

I am not an alcoholic and don't crave alcohol when I'm not drinking, but I find it hard to remain moderate when I'm with people who are drinking hard at bars.

Assuming (realistically):

  1. I will continue to go to bars

  2. I will continue to hang out with my current social circle (great guys and gals all, whom I grew up with)

what would you do to: mitigate the mal-effects of the alcohol and the total amount consumed?

what is your: I'm at the bar and everyone is here to party game plan?

what is the least detrimental type of beer likely to be found at a bar? I've seen some conflicting stuff about whether darks like guinness are better or worse?

I've found that norcal margaritas to be great. Good aged whiskey* on the rocks is surprisingly great because, a) it has a pretty complex, good flavor and b) unless you are a maniac it is pretty much impossible to drink quickly.

I really don't believe 2-3 glasses of red wine a night are bad (and yea, I think ultimately probably more beneficial than abstaining) but try telling this to your loud friend who just walked back to the table with 3 pitchers of bud light. Sorry, just reality.

*distilled from grains, I know.

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23 Replies

150 · December 21, 2010 at 11:47 PM

This is going to be a really unpopular one:

Have just a 1-3 drinks, and supplement it with a far less neurotoxic drug than alcohol like Marijuana, Pharmaceutical grade Amphetamine (think ADD drugs that 10 year olds take but a recreational as opposed to therapeutic dose), low dose Magic Mushrooms, low dose MDMA, low dose LSD, or a myriad of other Herbal/Supplementation products which illicit psychoactive potential be it relaxation, anxiolysis, energy, etc. Please also note all of the above substances are legal in one country or another, and this being the Internet, there is technically nothing wrong or illegal with these reccomendations. Of course I would only suggest any of the aboves as options if they are legal where you currently reside.

I have a friend doing his PhD in Neuroscience, who is a big believer that no substance is inherently bad ("It's not the use of something bad, it's the abuse of something good"), and he has opened up my eyes to the world of sobriety-releaving substances between Alcohol and Cocaine/Herion/Meth that are not only more fun, but have strong evidence behind them as far less damaging than a typical "binge" drinking session where ~10+ drinks are consumed (and lets be honest, sometimes far far more).

A drug report came out just a month or so ago showing Alcohol to be the no#1 worst drug. Another study classified it as #4 (MDMA was #13), which I liked better, because unlike the first study it didn't take into account effects on society, etc, just pure physical harm to the individual.

I will get flamed for this I know, but do some research and you will find that as Taboo as it is, taking a double dose of some pills that doctors prescribe daily--to young children to take daily--combined with a few drinks, is not only more fun, it is far less damaging to your brain, to your hormones, and to your personality. I nolonger eat shit food, or wakeup cringing at something I did last night in the clouded drunken sea of loss of cognition, inhibition, coordination, and social calibration.

Slippery slope? Sure... But just crunch the numbers and you will see Alcohol use is the slipperiest of them all.

2218 · December 17, 2010 at 09:49 PM

I totally empathize with this. In fact, this is what I wrote in the comment section of John Durant's blog entry about this very thing yesterday:

I am really bad at the cut-off and have horrible impulse control once I get even kinda tipsy--it is how I end up drinking cheap beer at 3 am despite being gluten intolerant or switching to some gross brandy that is collecting dust in a friend's cabinet even though I know the room will soon be spinning. My new strategy is drinking vodka/sodas with a few lime slices, trying really hard to drink them slowly and ordering (or, if I am at home or at a party, making) a virgin one every other drink. It helps me space things out, allows me time to better evaluate and respond appropriately to my degree of hammeredness, helps me with the needing to have a drink in my hand at all times compulsion, and exempts me from other people insisting that I have another drink since the two are impossible to tell apart. It has kept me out of trouble, virtually hangover free and out of barf town for quite some time now.

I have been noticing that steering clear of beer for the most part is helping so much. After a night of hard alcohol I crave steaks and ribs and stuff, whereas with beer I crave crap like hot pockets and snickers that I have never even liked when I am sober. (Insulin response and all that with a mild dose of self-destructive belligerence, I'm sure.) Getting a fatty meal in before bed, along with an emergen-c in a huge glass of water before bed and making some variation on melissa's hangover soup in the a.m. (or afternoon depending...) are all ways I find help alleviate negative effects.

801 · December 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Full article on alcohol and paleo here.

These days me and my other athlete friends just mix up some of Robb Wolf's NorCal margaritas when we feel like drinking. We've found that this is the best way to avoid as many negative effects as possible- Try to drink early and eat some protein and fat before you go to bed.

NorCal Margarita

  1. 2–3 shots of 100% agave tequila.
  2. Juice and pulp from one lime.
  3. Shake it all up with some ice.
  4. Add soda water to taste.

Here's why this drink rocks:

  1. Tequila is fermented agave juice, which makes it gluten and starch-free.
  2. Insulin release is blunted by lime, helps maintain insulin sensitivity.
  3. Alkaline kidney load from limes
  4. CO2 bubbles help ethenol enter blood stream more quickly, so you can drink less for same effects.

Also check out Martin Berkhan's Alcohol-diet recommendations.

5216 · December 18, 2010 at 05:20 AM

What've been finding is that beer is a killer. Two beers and I have a massive hangover the next day (gluten-over). The stuff and me don't mix at the moment (maybe forever but I have a sneaky suspicion I have some leaky gut going on). But I've also been finding that I can drink my rum on the rocks at a ridiculous speed. The bulkiness of beer keeps me at just two or three. I just haven't found a good replacement. A vodka soda is totally tolerable. It just isn't tasty the way beer is. Wine is easier to pace but it also is money thief. I don't know how these places can justify the prices they put on a glass. Wolf swears by his Norcal Margarita; I haven't tried it yet. Hopefully, I'll be able to get my gut under control and will be able to handle an occasional beer. I'm pretty sure my tribe consumes beer as a sacrament. Without it I feel a blasphemer.

791 · December 20, 2010 at 01:30 PM

Having been your age once, here are a couple of suggestions.

1.) Get into the habit of drinking a glass of icewater, or maybe seltzer, in between each drink. Once you are in that habit, make it two glasses in between each drink, then progress to three. You will find this helps reduce hangover and that your total alcohol intake for a given night out is reduced.

2.) There is an excellent thread here on beers having minimal or no gluten content. Stick with them. http://paleohacks.com/questions/8902/how-much-gluten-in-beer#axzz18epiATaF

3.) Take the night off once and awhile - tell your friends you will be designated driver or something, as an excuse not to drink.

At a visit to a pub recently, I stuck with a single bottle of Bud (20 ppm gluten content) and ordered a spinach salad with a burger patty only, no bun, on top (juices made for a better salad dressing than any vegetable oil "dressing". Next time I will specifically drag my friends to a place that I know serves three different kinds of gluten free beer. Even then I will use the "one out of three beverages" rule above.


970 · December 17, 2010 at 11:00 PM

What works for me: vodka/soda/lime (gin/soda/lime if I crave extra "flavor"), high-end scotches and bourbons (neat/rocks/soda), bloody marys and red wine. Absolutely no sweet drinks/shots. I will occasionally drink beer, seeking pure light lagers (Amstel Light, Stella Artois) instead of sweet ales (although I do have a special exemption for Guinness Extra Stout) and those fermented from mostly rice (Bud Light, Coors Light, Sapporo, Kirin, Asahi). My ethnicity is Czech/Japanese, so I haven't had any issues (thus far) with occasional wheat or rice intake even though I keep both as low as possible.

I second Amanda's and Todd's recommendations: load up on protein and fatty paleo before the second or third alcoholic drink, alternate between drinks with water or soda/lime and slam a glassful (or two!) of water before bed. I've also found that having caches of sardines, cheese sticks and kimchi help me with the 2AM munchies.

Paleo is also about having FUN with your tribe!! =)

1204 · December 18, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Can you have a night without alcohol, just tell people you are on medication. See how that goes. You might enjoy it.

2231 · December 18, 2010 at 05:29 AM

At my 40th birthday party my husband hired a bartender at our house. I managed to maintain my goal of TWO drinks this way: I pre-planned in my head what my limit was going to be. I really wanted to remain sober, talk to all my guests, and not get wasted.

I have in the past drank way too fast, since I know this about myself, resulting in over-indulgence very quickly, I have to MAKE A PLAN ahead of time of what I am going to drink. I have managed to stick with it in my old age. Ha ha. I have also asked the waitress to bring me water/and or a pitcher of water with lemon slices, so I can "keep drinking" that instead of "alchohol." (and I make sure to tip her, keep her happy..)

966 · December 18, 2010 at 04:55 AM

N-acetyl-cysteine before drinking helps the liver process the alcohol faster and reduces the effects of hangovers. After some B vitamins (can't remember which) and vitamin C help.

3428 · December 17, 2010 at 09:39 PM

The only reasonable answer is that if you drink, you should drink moderately. I know this is easier said than done, but again it is the only decent advice, and of course it applies to any alcoholic beverage, whether or not it is distilled from a cereal.

106 · December 17, 2010 at 09:12 PM

22 years old here, after being on and off the booze through 4 years of college I've given up trying to abstain from alcohol 8)...My rule is just stay beer free. I stick to whiskey and tequila, and I feel alright with hurting myself that much for the experience. An extra Animal Pak and chugging a liter of water before sleeping after drinking usually stops any hangover symptoms for me as well.

I also struggle with the moderation aspect, but I've found that letting myself go hogwild scares the shit outta me so I seem to naturally drink less...8) Try no holds barred and see what your attitude toward another session is after that. It's helped me.

edit My biggest problem now is missing Magners...like drinking candy. 8(

8848 · December 19, 2010 at 05:40 PM

I drink wine when I go to the Pub after my soccer games (best invention ever--an indoor soccer facility with a Pub inside it). I'm one of the few people ever witnessed drinking wine in the place. People often ask me "what's up with the wine?" I just tell them that I gave up on beer and it helped me lose weight. People respect that. I second (or third or fourth) the endorsement of Jameson's. I will, on occasion, have a glass of Jameson's for sipping.

It's no longer a problem for me to see people gorging themselves on quesadillas and pizza. I generally don't stay long, say two hours. I hang out, watch people eat, and then go home to feast.

I no longer go out to bars for the all night debauchery and false hope of snaring a short-term mate. Perhaps I'm not a good one to respond...still, I don't think bars are "un-paleo" any more than other social scenario. I'm certain alcohol existed prior to agriculture and I'm of the belief that when we consumed it, it was in a social setting rather than as an accompaniment to TV-watching on a Sunday afternoon.

5624 · December 18, 2010 at 11:17 AM

I would say go out and enjoy yourself, but don't go crazy. Your young and vibrant and will bounce back. If you like going out and having a few drinks and don't you will regret it when you get older.

4888 · December 18, 2010 at 09:39 AM

I fell foul of the party mood yesterday too! Out for drinks with friends, decided to stay in the pub to eat (the atmosphere was great - snow falling outside, 17th century pub with beams, inglenook fire, log fire blazing, party atmosphere) - two bottles of wine later my partner and I ambled happily home through the snow! And this morning began a lot later than it really should have done!

5852 · December 17, 2010 at 09:56 PM

Absolutely stay away from beer. I go with Vodka Sodas, whisky, occasional tequilla / gin soda if Im feelin fiesty. But ya, my friends all lack the "off switch" so when I do go out with them, I'm going big. On nights you know you will be drinking a lot, load up on protein, and a little fat. This will keep the drunken munchies at bay (hopefully)

679 · November 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM

Any time I'm at a bar I usually try to put it over my head.

If the bar is really heavy I will just work on getting it off the floor.

6491 · December 29, 2010 at 06:06 PM

I still go crazy every once in a while (stick to whiskey, though), but I've cut back a lot from the perspective of my hard-partying friends.

The trick is to be the DD. When everybody knows you're their ride home, they won't hassle you about taking shots or helping with a pitcher. And, when that third whiskey-soda beckons, you'll have the wherewithal to banish the beast.

0 · December 22, 2010 at 06:21 AM

I used to drink a fair bit with my friends. We'd go out 2 or 3 times a week and a drink would turn into 3 or 5 or 8. We'd have a few drinks at a bar then go back to somebody's house and get wasted. Awhile ago I cut way, way back and generally when I go out with friends I'll only have 1 beer or a few glasses of wine. I prefer the taste and feel of drinking good red wine anyway, so it works out pretty well. Minimal carbs and a most enjoyable buzz.

38 · December 22, 2010 at 12:01 AM

For me a good strong (flavour) dry red does the trick.

Zero carbs and will get me buzzing fairly quickly so I don't need to consume litre upon litre of the stuff (like when I drink beer).

I've never been a big drinker though, and only drink infrequently. So, can't really help on curbing your drinking enthusiasm.

Maybe go with the 80/20 rule on this one.

1746 · December 19, 2010 at 12:23 PM

I am not an alcoholic and don't crave alcohol when I'm not drinking, but I find it hard to remain moderate when I'm with people who are drinking hard at bars.>

I reckon you need to rethink that statement. I lot of what you have posted could almost have been lifted from the AA manual. Do a bit of reading and you might be a bit worried at your drinking. There are many self-help tests and tools available to help those who may be wondering about their own condition as it pertains to drinking. One of the more popular is the CAGE Questionnaire.

The CAGE Questionnaire asks four questions. Answering yes to two or more of the questions may indicate a problem.

  1. Have you ever felt you needed to cut down on your drinking?
  2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  3. Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?
  4. Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

I hope you manage to get things under control as neither the drinking or binge eating is likely to help achieve any level of fitness and is as far from Paleo as you could get.

120 · December 18, 2010 at 01:29 PM

Vodka, water, lemon! I always add water to these drinks to stretch them out if i know i will be dinking pleanty. Getting away from beer alone made a HUGE difference. Then it just boils down to being disiplined to stay away fom carby glutenous foods and stick to the meat afterwards. I can do this every weekend and not skip a beat, but i don't. I never have a hangover day on the couch like i used to anymore.

3365 · November 17, 2012 at 03:54 AM

Goose & water... lime if I'm pretty sure they're properly washed. No hangovers unless I go waaaay deep. Alternate with glasses of water.

A far bigger problem I have with the bar scene is the likelihood that I'll smoke 2-4 cigarettes while I'm out. That completely sucks... for DAYS afterward.

Smoking some bud before I go out usually keeps me drinking slow, but if I'm not feeling it it could socially cripple me. Same with acid & shrooms... know what you're getting into and LOW dose.

Don't mix amphetamines with alcohol. You will regret it.

A Vicodin or two while drinking feels amazing, but I tend to drink a lot more with those.

387 · December 22, 2010 at 12:14 AM

Some of this will sound extreme - do at your own risk, I am not responsible for the results, etc. etc.

We know that it is much easier to change behavior by altering habits, and not by exercising rational self-control. It sounds like you know the bad effects of alcohol (aside from all the commonly known ones, it also increases gut permeability, i.e. punches holes in your intestinal lining), and you cannot seem to stop once you get started. You have a few options to solve this problem for good:

1.) Don't get started - zero alcoholic drinks. Only you know if you can pull this off. If you can do it in a bar on a consistent basis, congratulations! You have joined an elite group of humans who can exercise strong self-control. Welcome to the club and enjoy you stay.

2.) Go to the other extreme in order to change your basic drive to consume alcohol. Choose a day/night beforehand and intentionally consume WAY too much alcohol from all different kinds of drinks. Have a friend make sure that you don't kill yourself, but make sure to get more plastered than you ever have in your entire life. Then spend the night puking your guts out (preferably while enduring a near-death experience). With any luck, your affinity toward alcohol will slightly (or more) decrease after this first experience. Now, take some time to recover your body and do all of this again, only this time even more extreme. Rinse and repeat. Your body will eventually learn to associate alcohol with the feeling of dying and you will be free of this particular dependence.

If neither of these works, you have failed as a human being. I kid, I kid!

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