Is Beer Paleo? Is Mead Paleo? | The Paleo Diet®
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How Paleo is Beer and Mead?

By Nell Stephenson, B.S.
June 2, 2015
Jon Parry/
Jon Parry/

Is there room for a pint of beer on The Paleo Diet® now and again? Are there any occasions where a brew can make a surprise appearance? And, how about mead?

Let’s start with some definitions. The Beer Academy defines beer as having barley, hops, water and yeast.1 With two out of four failing to stay true to strict Paleo guidelines, the resulting beverage can’t be suitable either. Even gluten-free beers are grain-based; all grains, rich in anti-nutrients and quite helpful in promoting leaky gut syndrome, are one of the key things to be avoided on The Paleo Diet.

And mead, an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops2 isn’t exactly the most Paleo of beverages, either.

So, the answer as to whether they’re Paleo compliant is pretty straightforward: No.

But what’s the big deal if you’re a die-hard beer lover and the idea of never having another cold one again is just sending chills down your spine? Rest assured, consuming a moderate amount of alcohol can be consistent with The Paleo Diet's 85/15 rule. There are other alcoholic options to think about other than beer too.

First and foremost, there are other libations worth considering when we’re out on the town or at a business meeting at which drinks are flowing liberally. And while it’s not exactly suggested that we indulge in spirits regularly, the way we might with water or green tea, one of my goals in working with clients is to create a plan that can be maintained for the long run, and that includes situations where there are drinks to be had.

So, what can we drink then, aside from water on the rocks?

Explaining the 85/15 Principle
By Aimee McNew

Red Wine

With many known health benefits including high levels of heart healthy resveratrol, when paired with a balanced meal, wine can be consumed without major consequence, in terms of disturbing blood sugar levels or disrupting sleep. “Red wine is clearly the drink of choice if you are doing light to moderate drinking for your health, and daily consumption just before or with the evening meal may be the most protective pattern,” said Dr. James O’Keefe, MD, Chief of Preventive Cardiology at Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City.3 The key is to look for wines that are sulfite free,4 and to keep it to a glass or two, rather than binging on boxed wine or drinking too close to bedtime. Remember, there’s a big difference between falling asleep and passing out! Also, note that if you were following an anti-candida Paleo protocol, you’d be better off avoiding anything containing, or made from yeast.

Neat, non-grain based spirits

Grape vodka, gin made from juniper berries, and tequila, served neat or on the rocks, also make viable options as a drink of choice.

Sparkling water

Yes, it may sound boring, but if you alternate a couple of sparkling waters with a twist of lime for each drink you’re having, you’ll keep hydrated and also be able to better pace yourself. Plus, if your company includes the few who seem to have made it their goal to make sure everyone drinks themselves into oblivion, you’ll be set with a little white fib that your Pellegrino has something more adult mixed in!

Alcohol is still alcohol whether it comes from a shot of Ciroq or a Chopin on the rocks and it’s something that ideally isn’t consumed as part of your Paleo Diet daily regime. Whatever it is you’re going to be drinking, the key is balance.

Make sure that earlier in the day you stay even more on top of your hydration than usual, load up on the veggies, good fat and protein and cut down on any fruit you may have eaten; you’ll be getting enough simple carbohydrates from the alcohol later in the evening. Also, don’t make the mistake of arriving at the event hungry. This can lead you down the path of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, when you’re at the McDonald’s drive thru at 2 A.M. eating a Big Mac because it sounded like a good idea after five drinks.

Finally, make a plan and stick to it. If you’re dining at your favorite Italian restaurant with a killer wine list, that also happens to have the fresh focaccia you used to inhale, and homemade fettuccini that was always your go-to, and a tiramisu that is simply off the chain, don’t have all of them. Stick with your one glass or two of Super Tuscan and enjoy the heck out of it, rather than indulging in it all. When you’re emotionally prepared for the one thing you enjoy, it will serve to keep you from feeling guilty and subsequently eating everything and anything in sight. And, enjoying your glass of wine with dinner a few hours before bed will leave you with restful sleep, an energetic awakening in the morning, and a far greater chance of staying on your true Paleo path.

The Paleo Diet, Alcohol Consumption and Sulfites in Wine, Beer and Food
By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.


[1] The Beer Academy | Beer Academy | Beer Info | What Is Beer? N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2015.

[2] Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 May 2015.

[3] Time. Time, n.d. Web. 27 May 2015.

[4] The Paleo Diet. N.p., 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 May 2015.

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