Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Sep

10 Ways to Quench a Primal Thirst

I’ll admit it. For the most part, beverages don’t get a lot of attention around here. I tend to take a pretty dismissive stance on them, perhaps as a reaction to the ridiculous mainstream obsession with water intake (64 ounces per day? C’mon!). Also, besides the occasional hankering for a cold beer, I don’t really crave beverages. Coffee in the mornings, water when thirsty, and the occasional glass of wine with dinner is my typical lineup. Most of the fluids my body needs comes from the food I eat so I tend to view beverages as largely inessential. They’re nice and refreshing, but rarely needed.

But I also realize that giving up certain types of drinks can be a huge stumbling block for some PBers: athletes who grew up chugging Gatorade during competition might pine for the sugary liquid, and ex-soda addicts may still be tempted to keep a stash of diet cola on hand for those difficult moments. Or there are the health nuts who bought into the Vitamin Water hype, went Primal, and now need something to sate their cravings. Or there’s even the parent who, while successful at weaning them off sugary cereal, Lunchables, and mac-n-cheese, has yet to find a suitable replacement for the kids’ juice boxes and Capri-Suns.

Water is, of course, the primary beverage of choice in the Primal lifestyle, but that can get boring. I know when I want a beer but know I shouldn’t, I go for sparkling water. Perrier, San Pelegrino, or any of the store brands are delicious and represent a viable alternative to boring water. Add a squeeze of lime or lemon for added kick.

Juice is a tough one. We’ve spent most of our lives hearing that fruit juices are the healthiest beverages around, but we now know they’re just concentrated sugar. If we’re talking straight juice, you’re better off just eating the fruit. You could also make a spritzer – mix two parts sparkling water with one part juice – if you absolutely can’t give up the juice. The sugar content is drastically reduced and you can drink relatively guilt free.

Tea, coffee, and wine are all sensible liquid vices, and I partake in all three. For obvious reasons, though, you probably don’t want to make their ingestion a regular habit (no more than once or twice daily). I have coffee and wine most days, but I keep it within reason. Tea has far less caffeine content, and making a jug of home-brewed iced tea to have around is cheaper than buying pre-made stuff in the stores. As a general rule, black tea has the most caffeine, followed by green and then white. And if you want to avoid it altogether, drink herbal teas.

One of my favorite herbal teas is a Thai delicacy: iced lemongrass tea. Get a few stalks of lemongrass, trim and peel them, then cut and smash the stalks with the flat of knife blade to release the “juices.” Bring them to a boil in a pot of water and cover. Cut the flames and let it steep for twenty minutes. At this point, I’ll even add a touch of real sugar for some sweetness, but you can leave it out. I prefer this stuff chilled, but you can drink it hot. Optional: add fresh mint leaves.

Another tea I like to make is iced ginger root tea with lime. Depending on your tolerance for ginger, peel and grate a sizeable amount of ginger root. Boil it in a pot of water, then reduce the heat, cover it, and allow the concoction to simmer for twenty minutes. Add the juice from five limes and let it cool before drinking. Pour it over ice when it gets hot. Some claim ginger tea promotes digestion and fights cold symptoms; I just like it because it tastes great.

Kava root tea is another interesting one. Traditionally consumed throughout Polynesia, Vanuatu, and Melanesia, kava is a mild sedative that relaxes without disrupting your mental alacrity. You can find it at health food stores, and it actually tastes pretty foul, but it’s an incredibly relaxing way to spend an evening. Just be sure you strain out the actual root (you don’t want to gag; cheesecloth works best here, especially if you have kava powder) and you avoid steeping it over 140 degrees (which is the temperature at which the active ingredients are destroyed). It won’t win any taste tests, that’s for sure. There’s also some evidence that excessive amounts are hard on the liver, so be cautious, but a single glass won’t hurt you every once in awhile.

What about the athletes who miss their sports drinks? How about a Primal electrolyte-enhanced beverage? After all, the key components to any sports drink – the stuff that really matters – are the electrolytes: sodium, chloride, and potassium. When you sweat, those are the minerals that you excrete. Making a proper sports drink entails adding enough electrolyte-containing ingredients. Sodium and chloride are easy enough; basic table salt has what you need in a teaspoon or two. The most potassium-rich foods are yogurt, pork chops, broccoli, avocados, bananas, and spinach, respectively, but I doubt a pork chop smoothie’ll go down smooth when you’re working up a sweat. Luckily, an average-sized lemon contains 48.3 g of potassium, more than your typical bottle of Gatorade contains. Squeeze the lemon and add a few pinches of table salt to your water for a Primal alternative to sugary sports drinks.

Simply adding various flavorings to plain water may even be enough. Cucumber slices, mint and lemon wedges in ice cold water are great on a blazing summer day, and while apple cider vinegar is an acquired taste, a few tablespoons of that stuff in a glass of ice water can be strangely delicious (it’s also supposed to help bolster immunity, so it might be worthwhile to try it during the onset of a cold).

Whatever you try, don’t beat yourself up over drinks. I may come across as overly critical of the beverage industry, but the very fact that we eat most of our calories (as opposed to sucking them through straws and from bottles, like a huge part of the country) gives us Primal Blueprinters an enormous health advantage. A cup of coffee here or an herbal ginger tea there won’t be a problem. Homemade drinks are truly Primal.

What about you? I’d love to hear about your go-to Primal beverages. Share your thoughts in the comment board!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Coconut water! And I still like good old water with a lemon slice. In Arizona we HAVE to drink a lot of it!

    Cherie wrote on September 30th, 2009
  2. I did not read all the posts so this may have been posted already.

    I get filtered water, lemon juice, lime juice and stevia and mix the together.

    It tastes great and the citric acid helps prevent kidney stones. Which was my first motivation in putting this concoction together.

    Paul wrote on September 30th, 2009
  3. @Grok Organic milk still fit your description?

    I stand by my love of the cow drink, however open to hear others’ thoughts.

    Auren wrote on September 30th, 2009
    • Absolutely not. I think almost all organic milks are UHT. The stuff has a shelf life of 6-9 months a room temperature. Do you really want to drink it?

      Google UHT

      Look for RAW milk. It’s the good stuff. As much as I ABSOLUTELY LOVE dairy more than about anything i could put in my mouth, I would not consume it (and I didn’t for a while) anymore if I could not get raw. That store stuff you’re drinking now will gag you once you start drinking real milk.

      Grok wrote on September 30th, 2009
      • I doubt very much Grok ever milked a cow, into some kind of container and then drank that milk. …just saying.

        bob wrote on October 1st, 2009
        • True, but he didn’t do an almost endless list of things that we do here.

          Grok wrote on October 1st, 2009
  4. Nice post. Here are some things I like:

    – Green Tea Chilled with a dash of apple juice and squeezed lemon
    – Water left in the fridge with sliced up mint and cucumber (leave for a while before drinking)
    – Red Bush Tea
    – Fresh Basil and Thyme made as a tea (in a cup with hot water)
    – Coconut Water

    All make for delicious primal thirst quenchers!

    Chris - ZTF wrote on September 30th, 2009
  5. Mark, or anyone else: Any thoughts on Zevia?

    lr wrote on October 1st, 2009
  6. Kombucha is great, especially if you miss the fizz from soda. It’s a little sweet, a little sour, and a lot good.

    The storebought stuff is crazy expensive so I’m venturing into brewing my own.

    musajen wrote on October 1st, 2009
  7. I quite often pour just boiled water over a slice of lime – sometimes with a pellet of Splenda for sweetness.

    Appreciate your and other commenters’ suggestions.

    LeonRover wrote on October 1st, 2009
  8. Instead of table salt I like to use a high quality sea salt for the trace minerals and nutrients. Redmond RealSalt brand is my favorite: Make sure the sea salt you choose is free of additives and is sun dried, etc.

    Vik wrote on October 1st, 2009
  9. Wow. I am consistently amazed at the torture I was putting my body through before going Primal. My ignorance ran so deep…

    I started the PB hard-core and tossed my daily habit of 3+ cans of diet soda at the beginning of August. I find that eating primal, as Mark mentioned, makes me less thirsty, so I don’t drink a lot of anything anymore. I have tried diet soda a couple of times since going Primal, and it tasted TERRIBLE to me!! I don’t know how I ever got so hooked on the stuff…

    Reading the comments to this post, I discovered something. I used to have restless legs- not so bad I needed medicine, but quite annoying. When I read the previous posts about RLS, I realized I haven’t had restless legs since going Prmal and cutting out soda! I am still slack-jawed over that realization… One more clear piece of evidence the PB is the way to go!

    My favorite beverage of choice now is sparkling water (nothing added). Sure, Perrier is great, but expensive, so I opt for the store brand that’s $.69 for a 2 liter. I use a small glass for it at meal times and splash in a little juice (pineapple is my favorite) or a squeeze of lemon or lime.

    Grok on!

    Sarah wrote on October 1st, 2009
  10. I can’t give up milk! I don’t really touch juice or sodas, but I crave my milk every day. The way I look at it, it may not be primal, but I can credit my ancestors with a solid 8,000 – 10,000 years of pastoral living. And that means sucking down the cow milk, which my body is now pretty well evolved for.

    Good lactose tolerance is an evolved advantage in my opinion.

    Irish Slim wrote on October 1st, 2009
  11. I am STILL addicted to diet soda!! Even though I’ve been primal for 6 months now. …it’s my last vice. I’m a big believer in doing one thing at a time, succeeding then tackling the next thing. Not trying to do everything and then failing at all of it. 15 months ago I quit a HEAVY drinking habit. I mean from near blackout drunk every weekend, to never drinking again (I recommend Allen Carr’s “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking” over AA any day.) When I quit drinking my casual smoking turned into chain smoking. Which I allowed for 8 months until I was acclimated to going out to bars with my friends sober. Then I quit smoking. Then I went primal with grains, then I dropped the grains. So from where I was 15 months ago: getting WASTED 3 nights a week, smoking cigarettes, LIVING off processed carbs, to where I am now is AWESOME! But I can’t seem to kick the last vice and ditch the quart of diet dr. pecker I drink almost daily.

    I don’t think it’s so much that I’m craving icky sweet, it’s that I’m craving TASTE in a beverage. Swapping delicious diet soda (I don’t care what you say, that stuff tastes good!) with water just hasn’t worked out. So maybe if I swap it with water with lemon… or the Apple cider vinegar trick people are talking about?

    I don’t know. It’s driving me nuts that I can’t kick this one last habit. Diet soda by itself does NOT make you fat. I’ve dropped 38 pounds while chugging the stuff. But it’s NOT natural. And I know all those chemicals are not good for me. If I’m going to shun cheese because I think it’s too processed and not something Grok would have done, then CLEARLY the same is true for Diet soda.

    Fixed Gear wrote on October 1st, 2009
    • Personally I found the general taste-in-liquid-form thing, like the taste for sweet things, vanished once I cut it out for a while, and I didn’t even miss it. I was a big pop&booze drinker too, but I look at a bottle of root beer (used to be my favourite) and there’s just no desire to pick it up any more. YMMV.

      Arlo wrote on October 1st, 2009
    • Fixed Gear…..would a re-read of your book “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking” work for your Diet soda habit? Just a thought.

      Sharon wrote on October 3rd, 2009
  12. When I am really thirsty, there’s nothing that quenches my thirst better than good old water!

    I definitely need to try that lemonade and milk shake made with SweetLeaf Stevia –my favorite brand! (the only stevia brand with 0 calories, 0 carbs, and 0 glycemic index!). It sounds sooo good!

    I think it’s awesome that you lost weight, but I doubt it was directly related to your diet sodas–unless all you did was drink diet soda, then immediately started losing weight.

    Anyway, however it happened, congratulations!

    yoda wrote on October 1st, 2009
  13. My friend brought back some kava kava from the cook islands while touring round the world on university summer holiday many years ago. We drank it after an all nighter out in London.. It was very relaxing, speech & conversation flowed as if we had a few beers but we kept a totally clear head. It also had a numbing affect on the mouth.

    I think (don’t quote me though), that it is actually illegal in the UK now as well as a few more other European countries

    Matt wrote on October 3rd, 2009
  14. I’ll admit, I hate water. So I really appreciate some of these ideas that are more interesting than just a tea bag in a cup of hot water. The ginger and apple cider vinegar ideas sound really good! And I really wouldn’t mind a sub for my coffee — I won’t say I’m addicted, because the only thing I’m really “addicted” to is the ritual. If it’s tasty, though, it can easily replace my morning brew.

    Deanna wrote on October 3rd, 2009
  15. I have been soda free for 2 weeks now! And for me, the soda queen, thats pretty darn good!

    I do however still drink iced tea but i went the healthier route, I make homemade brewed iced tea, with just a pinch of splenda and then I add a splash of real orange juice instead of lemon (because the acid is higher in lemon juice) Sometimes i’ll skip the OJ and add blackberry or mango or maybe a few mint leaves. It is so refreshing!

    My other favorite drink is Polar seltzer. That stuff is amazing!

    And since i stopped drinking soda I have lost a few pounds and haven’t had acid reflux! *knock on wood*

    Carly Hannah wrote on October 6th, 2009
  16. I have shifted to tender coconut water which is available fresh from the trees in abundance here. It is taken straight from the coconut shells and no human made stuff(glass,bottle etc.) gets in between. No more synthetic drinks for me.

    Jayadeep Purushothaman wrote on October 8th, 2009
  17. I’m fast losing my taste for coffee going Primal. However, Tea is, for me, a Fine Art. I’ll drink any of it — white, green, oolong, black, rooibos, herbal — as long as it’s a good quality without a lot of additives. Teavana is a fabulous tea company that has so many varieties you can’t possibly get tired of the tea. And the quality is SO high, drinking them straight (no sweetener) generally isn’t a problem.

    RevCorbie wrote on April 6th, 2010
  18. Apple cider vinegar, how funky is that? I’ve been drinking LOADS of apple juice before I went Primal. Now I just tried apple cider vinegar and it’s quite nice! And it’s really really cheap since you only need a teaspoon for a glass of water. I have to look for more things to put in the mix. I bet there could be some interesting combinations with some fresh herbs of some kind..

    George Clooney wrote on April 21st, 2010
  19. How about fresh Almond milk (raw almonds and water blended, strained and chilled) or Green smoothies as an alternative? I think both of these would fit under the “Primal” category. Any thoughts?

    David wrote on January 1st, 2011
  20. Mark, I love the lemongrass tea! I tried it thanks to the Primal Blueprint Cookbook.

    Mark also mentioned putting lemon, mint, ginger, and cucumbers into water, but not all 4 at once. You should try it though, it’s delicious! Do an internet search for “Sassy water” from the Flat Belly Diet. That water is so good.

    Like others, I drink yerba mate, green tea, and coconut water. One of my favorite teas is a blend from Whole Foods that has yerba mate, green tea, and peppermint. Now I just make my own blend, but it was the WF product that turned me onto that combination. It’s pretty smooth tasting – unlike mate or green tea by themselves.

    Just read the label on the canned coconut water. It’s surprising / annoying how many brands have added sugar.

    Jen wrote on July 24th, 2011
  21. Nice post. We gave up soda recently, but found it really hard to only drink water in its place. Most of the traditional beverages did not satisfy us either. So, we spent some time finding healthy alternatives and now have a solid 4 that we recommend:

    Green Living Eco wrote on September 15th, 2011
  22. I am currently 3 weeks into primal life and haven’t touched a coffee since I changed, I used to believe my body was incapable of waking up without a jolt of caffeine. Going from 2 double espresso every day to H2O has been slightly trying but the benefits have included – cessation of daily stomach ache, no more coffee halitosis!, a financial saving of £55 so far ! hurrah!

    MsFoxwell wrote on September 25th, 2011

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