If you’ve been at this Paleo thing for awhile, you’re probably pretty familiar with all the foods you can eat, but beverages can easily spark confusion. Here’s a Paleo guide to what you should (and shouldn’t!) drink, and why, plus five of our favorite Paleo-friendly beverages.
This one’s obvious because of the sheer volume of refined sugar and lack of beneficial proteins or fats. Empty calories at its worst, along with a plethora of artificial ingredients, preservatives, fake colorings, and absolutely zero nutritive value. And yet, we get it: the stuff is addictive. Maybe it’s the fizzy goodness, or maybe it’s the sugar buzz, but seriously, if you’re Paleo but having a hard time kicking the soda can, maybe you should consider giving up sugar all together (at least for awhile).
Coconut water is a great alternative as you can drink it plain or infuse it with various fruits to create a tasty beverage that will hydrate you without loading your body up with yucky ingredients.
Parents, workaholics, and teenagers are all potentially familiar with these adrenaline-boosting drinks that give you a jolt that packs a punch much stronger than soda. Caffeine, B vitamins, and other energy-boosting herbs are often at the core of these drinks, and while that doesn’t sound so bad, keep in mind that they’re also filled with preservatives and virtual chemical cocktails of hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Plus, most tend to contain unhealthy levels of caffeine, as well as synthetic vitamins (i.e. not as they’re found in whole foods, making them hard to absorb anyway). More of a shock to the system than a helpful boost for the body, these energy drinks may provide a quick pick-me-up, but they’re going to send you spiraling downward when their effects wear off, creating a cycle of dependence that will tax the adrenal glands and interfere with healthy sleep patterns.
Organic green tea, kombucha, matcha tea, or herbal tea are great alternatives to energy drinks because there are a ton of different options! Need an energy boost? Green tea and matcha can provide the healthy benefits of caffeine while also giving you a good infusion of antioxidant power. Kombucha comes in many different flavor combinations, appealing to a wide range of palates, and gives you probiotics as a bonus. Herbal teas can be drank hot or cold, and can even be combined for personal flavor preferences, all while helping to add to your daily hydration totals.
Maybe you’re a hardcore CrossFitter and you’re lifting things the size of a small planet. You want to make sure you are properly hydrated and replenishing all the nutrients you’re sweating out. While these electrolyte concoctions are popular with many athletes, there are far better ways to replenish electrolytes than with these highly processed, excessively sugary beverages filled with artificial colorings, preservatives, and other nasty ingredients.
Electrolytes may sound scientifically complex, but the most common electrolytes in our bodies are minerals: sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium. Knowing this, you don’t need slickly packaged beverages to replenish your electrolytes, you simply need to eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in minerals (hello, Paleo!) and drink plenty of water. Voila, electrolyte problem solved!
Sadly, most juice isn’t real juice at all, but is concentrate that has been mixed with water, sugar, preservatives, and synthetic vitamins. It may sound healthy to down a cup with breakfast, but it’s really just another opportunity for empty calories and excessive sugar, and doesn’t count at all toward your daily fresh produce intake. When it comes to juices, most are little better than soda, minus the carbonation, so this is one kind of koolaid you’re better off skipping.
Fresh juice from a nice variety of fruits and veggies can enhance your breakfast, but keep in mind that eating the whole fruit or veggie also provides necessary fiber.
While real, black coffee may have its benefits, coffee beverages like cappuccino, lattes, mochas, and the like are filled with sugar, loads of caffeine, and tons of preservatives. Since many of those beverages can top off at 1,000 calories or more, they can hardly be classed as part of a well-balanced diet.
Before you fall into a deep, dark hole of coffee shop withdrawal, keep in mind that most of your favorite coffee concoctions can be replicated Paleo-style, with much more delicious and nutritious results. We even have a helpful guide to get you started on your quest for the perfect Paleo cup of joe.