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.
I will continue to go to bars
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here's why this drink rocks:
Also check out Martin Berkhan's Alcohol-diet recommendations.
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.
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!! =)
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.
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(
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.