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What to Drink: Bulletproof Alcohol Infographic and Hangover Cures

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One of the most common questions about the Bulletproof Diet is whether alcohol is ok. I also hear, “How do I cure my hangover?” as well as “Is alcohol Paleo?” and “What should I drink when I am trying to stay Bulletproof but want to be social?”

Let’s face it – not a lot of us have only one drink on big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Even my most hardcore Bulletproof friends and readers drink every now and then. There is a way to have a drink – or a few – on occasion without harming yourself or even feeling the bad effects. You can even enjoy the buzz safely. I believe it’s optimal from a health perspective to not drink, but from a fun perspective, having a few drinks is relatively harmless.

This post is about how to use biohacking to enjoy alcohol without many side effects (you know, things like cancer, aging, and hangovers). And to celebrate the holidays, here’s an infographic that distills (ahem) all I know about alcohol, metabolism, and toxins into practical advice you can use.

How To Hack Your Hangover: Free Infographic (click to enlarge)


The Best Hangover Cures: 5 Steps To Hack Your Hangover

Step 1 (optional): Choose the alcohol that will cause the least hangover problems.

There are tons of types of alcohol but the most common ones are represented here. What you choose can make a huge difference in how you feel the next morning. Some alcohols have a lot more toxic byproducts from fermentation than others. They are, in order from best to worst: Vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey, other distilled spirits, dry cider, dry champagne, dry white wine, white wines, red wines, dessert wines, beer.

Tragically, beer has the most toxins of any common alcoholic beverage…

Step 2: Hydrate heavily by drinking a glass of water for every serving of alcohol you consume – ideally at the same time or right after.

Before you can eliminate toxins, your body dilutes them with water so they don’t harm you on the way out.  The water either comes from your tissues or water you drink – so drink water.

Step 3: (critical) Block the conversion of alcohol into aldehyde, the most hangover-causing metabolite that also causes very fast aging, wrinkles, etc.

Before each drink, take one Vitamin C capsule, along with a capsule of Unfair Advantage.

Step 4: Do more if you want.

Best:  The most powerful detoxer for the liver I know of is lipoceutical glutathione. That’s what I use if I drink.

Good: Add Vitamin B-1 and/or Alpha Lipoic Acid and/or  N-Acetyl Cysteine before each drink, or at least before your first and after your last drink.  Those links have the correct dosages and are low cost per drink (I recommend those ones for fastest absorption.)

Step 5: Mop Up What’s Left.

Take 4 capsules of Activated Charcoal after you’re done drinking (or if you chose beer or wine, take 1 capsule with each drink).


That’s all it takes. If you only do step 3 and no other step, you’ll probably feel ok the next morning. If you do all the steps, expect to feel Bulletproof – even better than you feel on a normal morning.

The wine industry has done a great job telling us that resveratrol is good for us. It might be – I don’t take it regularly because of concerns about it being mildly estrogenic. But even if it is, you’d need hundreds of bottles of red wine to get the amount of resveratrol in a single pill. So if you love wine, drink it and be sure to take activated charcoal to bind to the extra toxins generated by the yeast fermentation.

There is even some evidence that one drink a day may have protective effects. What I’ve seen is pretty vague and seems to be highly publicized by alcohol vendors, just like the winemakers are big cheerleaders for resveratrol. One drink a day may be protective against Alzheimer’s disease, according to Daniel Wetmore, Ph.D. and Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences Fellow at Stanford (Dan and I are on a panel together on brain hacking at SXSW next year!)

I learned some of the techniques here from Steve Fowkes, a friend and one of the most brilliant biochemists and metabolic hackers I’ve ever met, who is author of Smart Drugs II.  Technical details about why some of this works is on Steve’s Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute site, but here’s a quick summary, along with some more info from my own research.


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Post date: January 19, 2015
  • Cara

    These are great tips! So, do you carry vitamins in your briefcase? Congrats on your tranformation. I’m assuming you eat Paleo? Caraprimroseandpaleo.wordpress.comthoughts on ancient eating

  • Dave Asprey

    Thanks Cara!I carry vitamins when I fly (in little baggies like you’d use to sell crack :) and even fly with 1 oz vials of white powder (glutamine and d-ribose energy boosters) and have never once been bothered. Security people know about vitamin people apparently! The only problem once was when I was on a month-long press tour of Europe and forgot my bag of vitamins in the US, which had a medication I needed. (it was Provigil, which completely stops jet lag). I asked a friend to fedex it to me in Malta, but she wrote “cosmetics” on the package slip, and customs blocked it when they noticed it wasn’t cosmetics. They said, “We can’t let this in to the country. It’s full of bags of unlabeled pills.” I replied and exaggerated a bit, saying, “It has important medicine. If I can’t get it, I hope you have socialized health care here for when I pass out.” He paused for a minute, then agreed to give me the bag of vitamins as I was flying out of the country. Smart people, those Maltans. :)I also flew to Asia with 5lbs of supplements for a 3 month trip. I was testing a formula I made for high altitude mountaineering and doing some biohacking, and some of the molecules I was using are large (magnesium, calcium, and amino acids can be bulky) Believe it or not, on multiple trips in and out of China, Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, and Thailand, and no one ever even asked about my vitamins. Be careful with DHEA which (sadly) is a controlled substance in some countries, even though it’s a vital hormone precursor. It got caught up in the “war against hormones” from the 1970’s even though it’s natural and not related to synthetic hormones.

    • Srinivas Rao

      I noticed you mentioned provigil for jetlag. It’s funny because I used it all through business school to study and get through class because I was diagnosed with ADHD a while back. Amazingly enough it did wonders for me and even helped my grades.

  • Ryan Critchett

    Sweet! Good stuff to know, Dave.

  • RJ

    awesome post, thanks.
    In step 2, if one takes lipoceutical glutathione, is it necessary to take the ALA+B1?

    • swfowkes

      If you are taking some kind of B-complex or multivitamin formula and you took it earlier the same day as you are drinking, you probably have enough B1 (and other Bs) in your system without additional supplementation. But the glutathione is doing the heavy lifting and needs to be taken close to the alcohol consumption, especially if you carry the genetic polymorphism for acetaldehyde reductase (if you have Irish or Asian ancestry, for example). Lipoate is probably like B1, not really necessary unless you are (pre-existing) deficient or an alcoholic (or on a binge). Since these are essentially completely non-toxic, you can take them anyway on a better-to-be-safe-than-sorry basis.

  • Maxim

    Hey, Dave!

    Thanks for a great post! 2 quick questions:

    1. What do you think of cognac / Armagnac brandy?
    2. Do you take antioxidant activity into account. Mark Sisson places whiskey and brandy above vodka, gin and tequilla specifically for this reason.

    Thanks a lot!

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  • Bob Mulholland

    Great post! So timely with four Christmas parties coming up in the next month! People are used to seeing me drinking with charcoal tablets now so the extra biohacking stuff will seem pretty normal. ;-)

  • Bob Mulholland
    • 4rekak

      wow, it is a great article, thanks :)

  • swfowkes

    A few things #1: The ranking of alcohol sources is based on mycotoxin ctiteria. It would be different if you were more interested in sulfite exposure (red wine and white wine would be highest exposure), congeners (dark rum, tequilas, whiskeys and brandies would be highest exposures), and phenolics (red wine is highest exposure, beer and white wines are much lower). So its “pick your poison.” Or the converse.

  • swfowkes

    A few things #2: The cysteine-(or NAC)-and-C formula is very specific to the aldehyde toxicity from drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol converts to acetaldehyde before it converts to acetate, and it is the acetaldehyde that gives you a hangover, suppresses your immune system, fries your liver and cross links your skin (wrinkles). Cysteine and NAC have only a minor effect on toxicities from congeners, mycotoxins and sulfites. Plus, the cysteine has to be concurrent with the generation of acetaldehyde. Taking only one dose of cysteine and C works fine if you are taking one drink, but for partying, you need to take your cysteine and C spread out over the drinking session. I use Alcohol Detox from Nutrition Dynamics because 1) the dose of cysteine is low enough to take multiple times, and 2) it contains co-factors B-complex and mitochondrial co-factors. One capsule at the beginning of each new drink, and one capsule after the last drink. This brackets the acetaldehyde-generation surge from any drinking pattern, from one drink all the way to a binge.

    • Chad Jones

      Thanks. This seems like really helpful info but this study really confuses me: which demonstrates a dual protective as well as damaging effect of NAC on the liver depending on when it is taken?

      The study shows that if NAC is taken 30 minutes before ethanol consumption that it provides attenuation of ethanol damage and increased glutathione levels but also that if the NAC is taken after drinking (I don’t know if this means during drinking or way after) that it actually does damage to the liver? Any insight for us?

      • Steven Fowkes

        The time sequence of antioxidants and reductants is critical for any oxidative stress. BHT given before or after radiation has differential effects. Taking antioxidants generally destabilizes the antioxidant defense system. So if the antioxidant taken to handle an acute event does not coincide with the initial stages of the damage, the down side of destabilizing the antioxidant defense system outweighs the benefit of inefficiently mitigating the damage. I could not get your link to work, even with tweaking, so I cannot comment on the study. But NAC and cysteine have significant excitotoxic risk. So if a study uses 500+ mg doses of cysteine or NAC, that adds an excitotoxic damage mechanism to the timing-damage equation. This is effectively minimized by using multiple 100 mg doses spread out over time. MSG reactions show the same pattern. Spread it out and people stop reacting. Repost the study link?

      • Steven Fowkes

        Let me also add that, in real life, the absorption of cysteine and NAC depends on the kind of capsule it is packaged in. Gelatin capsules dissolve in 10 minutes when swallowed with hot water or tea and maybe 20 minutes if swallowed with ice water. With veggie caps (modified celluloses), it can take an hour. An alcoholic beverage begins absorbing immediately. So, ideally, you should take your gelatin ascorbate-sulfhydryl formula 20-30 minutes before drinking and your veggie-cap formula an hour before. But realistically, how many people will do that? That’s why I emphasize the “before drinking” instruction.

        Also, the NADH flux generated from early alcohol metabolism does a good job of keeping glutathione reduced. (NADH couples to NADPH, which couples to glutathione and ascorbate.) When the alcohol wears off, that’s the time when the NADH falters and you have to rely upon your stored pool of NADPH, ascorbate and cysteine to deal with the continuing acetaldehyde influence. This NADH time course correlates with the “mean drunk” timeframe. Mean drunks get mean after NADH falters and acetaldehyde becomes acutely toxic.

    • seb

      up here in Canada, there’s a well respected brand that makes condition-based formulas. I take one called critical liver support that has 100mg NAC with C and ALA but also has many other detox ingredients like milk thistle and other antioxidants. I take 1 per day with my B complex. As an alchie, I’m wondering if I could use this 1 per drink protocol with this product safely. I’m guessing there would be added benefits but is there an ingredient here that could be overdone if taking over 10 caps a day?

  • Fowkes2

    A few things #3: Cysteine and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) are excitotoxic. If your metabolic rate is low, or if you are B6 and/or magnesium deficient, you can experience headaches and “MSG syndrome” from taking too much cysteine. Most cysteine supplements are in the 500 mg range, which is over the top for alcohol detox purposes for most people. If you get a headache, especially when taking more than one dose of cysteine or NAC, back off to 100 mg per drink-equivalent (a glass of wine or a mixed drink). The formula I designed for Nutrition Dynamics [no royalties] uses 100 mg of cysteine and NAC (a 50:50 mixture) to facilitate extended alcohol exposures like consulting in a sick building (formaldehyde exposure), sealing a stained bathroom ceiling with shellac (methanol exposure), attending a family holiday dinner (drinking a new wine with each course), or drinking sake and singing Karaoke with Japanese business partners to celebrate a deal.

  • swfowkes

    A few things #4: The activated charcoal is very good for the congeners found in distilled spirits, especially the darker versions. It has minimal benefits when you are drinking cleaner sources of alcohol, like vodka.

  • swfowkes

    A few things #5: Alcohol is a carb, squared. It has powerful glucose-like effects on blood sugar, suppressing beta oxidation and ketosis (fat burning), and stimulating brain serotonin. It also has powerful fructose-like effects stimulating fat neogenesis (the conversion of carb into stored fat). I believe alcohol in the form of fermented fruit is classic paleo, and beer, mead and distilled spirits are paleo-compatible (the equivalent of binging on berries, for example). I’ve seen bees and wasps getting drunk on windfall peaches and splatted figs. Paloelithic humans wouldn’t pass up the party.

  • Macavity

    I am surprised by the alcohol list in part. HAve you taken into account the natural brewed alcohols and “organic” wines etc. I would have thought most grain spirits would be a problem though. What about mead (made from honey) and cider.

    • Dave Asprey

      Macavity, natural brew and organic doesn’t stop the toxins made during brewing. Filtered grain alcohol is cleaner than the “cleanest” red wine or any beer (or mead). It sucks, but that’s how it is. :)

  • Amanda Markham

    Wow. I’ve been doing the 4 Hour Body thing, where red wine is apparently ok. Do you have any guidance/clarification on this?

    I was rather sad that I had to dump my nightcap of vodka for red wine when I started the 4 Hour diet. This post suggests that I should be taking it up again.

    • Dave Asprey

      Vodka is much better. Red wine has almost always has mycotoxins. It’s also been shown to cause leaky gut even at 3-4 glasses a week. The health benefits are also far overrated. If you have to drink alcohol, go with vodka instead.

  • Cja

    Traditionally we use Artichoke as a before drink suppliment – key compound Cynarin. It always works and no hangover. Does this fit with the bio-chemistry mentioned here? Or am I doing more hamr than good?

    • Dave Asprey

      Artichoke is a powerful but little known enhancer of liver detoxification. Keep it up!

    • Richard Patterson

      Noting that it was a small study, I found this in at “Based on a general notion that artichoke leaf is good for the liver, it
      has become a popular treatment for alcohol-induced hangovers. However, a
      small double-blind, placebo-controlled study failed to find it more
      effective than placebo.” Referencing
      Pittler MH, White AR, Stevinson C, et al. Effectiveness of
      artichoke extract in preventing alcohol-induced hangovers: a randomized
      controlled trial.
      . 2003;169:1269-1273.

  • Zorica Vuletic12

    I’m new to this site and am back-reading. I currently follow CT protocol from Dr. Jack Kruse and am more on his Leptin Post Rx w/ a more heavy keto + seafood (to accomodate CT). I am wondering if this vitamin protocol for alcohol can also help for when one is ‘forced’ to have ice cream, cake etc. at family functions?

    Thanks, all of this info is so helpful! Btw, please let everyone know how your own CT experience is coming along, as well as any modifications to your supplement protocol as a result of CT.

  • AC

    You mention no Gluten when discussing ‘Bulletproof diet’ but Vodka is gluten whereas red wine and tequilla are not. Could you elaborate on why Vodka is ok even if it goes against your tips for living on the ‘bulletproof diet’.

    • Dave Asprey

      Potato vodka is superior!

  • Maxshralp

    Is sake a better choice almost equivalent to vodka since it is clear?

  • guest

    How about the morning after? would you recommend breakfast like eggs or leaving food to later, to give your liver more time to detox?

  • Zorica

    With the clear alcohols, usually those are not taken on their own…for example: rum or vodka and Coke. Is that still preferable to the beer, even if it has the sugar load of Coke? (Because quite frankly I can’t swallow a vodka with just soda water. I still like red wine too such as Kianti or Baco Noir, but dry whites are good too). (Probably from toxin levels). And with this vitamin protocol, I assume it will still be less damaging than without the protocol even in the presence of Coke?

    • Dave Asprey

      Coke is all high fructose corn syrup, which is bad news. Go for a real sugar mixed in your drink if you’re going to do sugar. Mojito?

      • Zach

        I go with potato vodka and I either mix it with soda water and a lime or I will do coconut milk and a little upgraded chocolate powder.. kind of a white Russian mudslide kind of thing…Thoughts?

      • Bryan

        I like to go with potato vodka, club soda (not seltzer which has more sodium), half a lime and a few drops of stevia.

        • David

          I think you have that reversed with the club soda and seltzer. At least where I’m from, most brands of seltzer are sodium free, while club soda often contains sodium bicarbonate.

  • manom

    why do you recommend alpha lipoic acid over r-lipoic acid. The literature suggests the r-lipoic acid is much more bioavailable in the body

    • Dave Asprey

      Cost and simplicity. Technically, K-RALA is best of all. (I briefly worked with the guy who invented the stuff…)

      • manom

        thanks Dave for that tip!

      • manom

        Dave, I get headaches after taking K-RALA, same goes to r lipoic acid. Have you seen that before while working on this stuff? thanks

  • RichieP

    This is fine if you’re at home, but what about nights out? You dont wanna be walking around a club with a pocket full of pills, lol…

    What you really want is *slow release* NAC and Vit-C in the right ratios.

    In Korea, they sell a drink called “Dawn 808″ that has NAC, Vit C and some other antioxidants. The beauty of it is you can get it in 24-hr 7-11s, so you can have one just before drinking, one between the bar and the club, one right after… really does the job.

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  • Jonathan Roseland

    This is a great article but unfortunately not of these hangover cures hold a candle to the ultimate hangover cure: going skydiving on a freezing January morning over the Rocky Mountains!

    • Steven Fowkes

      Fun. This is from the anything-worth-doing-is-worth-overdoing school of testosterone-poisoned mentation. The everyday equivalent would be dunking your face in cold water. For Finns, Norwegians and Swedes, it might be rolling naked in the snow.

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  • Slowyaroll

    Found this listed under interactions list for NAC. Any thoughts?
    Activated charcoal
    Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
    Talk with your health provider.
    Activated charcoal is sometimes used to prevent poisoning in people who take too much acetaminophen and other medications. Activated charcoal can bind up these medications in the stomach and prevent them from being absorbed by the body. Taking N-acetyl cysteine at the same time as activated charcoal might decrease how well it works for preventing poisoning.
    This is the link to website

    • Steven Fowkes

      Activated charcoal will absorb anything, and a small amount of everything. But since time-releasing cysteine or NAC is not necessarily a bad thing (lowering excitotoxic risks?), and adsorbing congeners in rum or brandy, and fermentation byproducts in wine and beer, can be a good thing, I do not worry about charcoal for any short-term application.

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  • Kirez “Cash” Reynolds

    RE: Lipoceutical Glutathione
    The Upgraded Glutathione image of the bottle shows that 1 serving = one pump = 0.5mL, and there are 90 servings per bottle.

    There is no information regarding recommended dosages. How frequently does one take a serving? With food/drink, or fasting?

  • Pat Clements

    Avoid NAC and Alpha Lipoic Acid if you have any concerns about mercury being present in the body.

    Both compounds are weak chelators, and end up grabbing mercury and other metals, mobilizing them through the body, and then releasing them before they are excreted and depositing them elsewhere in the body/brain, causing further damage.

    If you’re interested in chelation, only use extremely strong chelators that hold metals until they are excreted via urine or stool, like selenium. It’s advisable to take both selenomethionine and methylselenocysteine, as they work synergistically to remove mercury and other metals from the body relatively safely.

    Without knowing the exact heavy metal contamination of the brain and body, taking NAC and ALA is not worth the risk.

    • Dave Asprey

      I’ve chelated and worked with it a lot, and know many physicians who use it. Based on that, I don’t agree with the below. Sodium selenite is a preferred form, and avoiding antioxidants because they are weak chelators is not a good strategy!
      Sent from an iphone. That means it’s spelled wrong…and I’m probably lost. You understand… -Dave

      • Pat Clements

        I just think NAC and ALA can be gotten incidentally through the diet and supplementation can be avoided without sacrificing health or antioxidant consumption.

        There are many strong antioxidants that are not significant chelators/metal mobilizers, and consuming the strongest chelator, selenium, also happens to be the best way to endogenously generate glutathione, an extremely potent antioxidant (which I know you emphasize the importance of). Thanks for the sodium selenite recommendation, I will check it out.

        • AMP

          How would you quantify low vs higher doses of NAC or ALA? 100 mg? 500 mg? 2000 mg?

      • Brad Johnson

        Hi Dave. Hoping you see this comment, since it’s an old discussion, but you’ve spoken out against sodium selenite in the past as a toxic form of selenium. What has changed your mind?

        • Steven Fowkes

          Selenite is redox active. It readily reacts with vitamin C to begin its reduction to low oxidation state and bioavailability. So it is too rapid to be optimal. Selenite solution dripped into vitamin C water forms red elemental selenium in seconds. Selenate, on the other hand, is redox stable. It takes a long time for selenate to be reduced to selenite. Therefore selenate is a timed-release form of selenite. I use selenite, but I add it to my drinking water so it is spread out during the time I drink a glass of water and throughout the day. It costs me about $0.001 per day.

    • Steven Fowkes

      I doubt that selenomethionine and selenocysteine are effective for mercury. I know many people (and clinicians) who have tried both organic selenium and inorganic selenium (selenite and selenate) without any benefit to their mercury load or symptoms. But three cautions re these organic selenium compounds, 1) they are cumulatively toxic (200 mcg/day is probably not an issue), 2) they do not provide selenium to make glutathione peroxidase (GSHpx) until you actively catabolize methionine and cysteine from proteins, and 3) they are universally extracted from yeast, and are more than likely to be allergenic. Selenite and selenate have no cumulative toxicity. They are immediately bio-available for making GSXpx. And they are ten-fold less expensive as supplements, and a hundred-fold cheaper as bulk materials.

    • feafe

      I would like to know more about this. How to keep up glutathione levels without chelating mercury levels into the brain, that are proven with ALA (especially) and maybe NAC/l-cysteine and maybe selenium… Whats the best formula?

  • Ben Brown

    As a 27 year old entrepreneur I want to thank you Dave along with your team for the positive impact you have had on my life. I have been following your guidance and in depth usage of the bullet proof diet for over a month now with great success. Here is how I put the alcohol infographic and other bulletproof methods to the test this past weekend.

    Before driving down to Santa Monica from the Bay Area for business meetings I prepared by getting all my supplements, foods in the green for the road, and low toxin alcohol in order. I knew I would be drinking and visiting with friends on Friday before the important lunch meetings on Saturday so I could not afford to be anything but 100 percent bulletproof. The drink I concocted and stuck to was a potato vodka mojito made with mint, lime juice, xylitol, and club soda. The next morning I was up at my normal time of 6:30AM, had bullet proof coffee and was
    off to the gym. I did some self myofascial release with a foam roller and went right into a quick Body by Science style lifting session followed by a barefoot run and gymnastics rings workout at the beach near the Santa Monica Pier. Multiple successful meetings then followed throughout the morning and afternoon
    at a beach front hotel. While I should have been hung over from the alcohol and getting brain fog from crappy foods on the road I was instead energized and focused throughout all meetings. The business deals concluded were even better than what I could have expected. I ended the business trip on Sunday morning
    with a visit to the Float Lab in Venice Beach as mentioned on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Thirty minute chat with Crash the “mad scientist”, 15 minute Turbo Sonic whole body vibration session, and hour and a half isolation tank float later I felt like a new man. I would say that one float hacks 6 months of meditation into a little over an hour. Experience was amazing and I highly recommend it. By following my excitement, upgrading my diet, and hacking what’s left with your protocols I left Santa Monica with such a glow that I can now say I experienced the “golden god” sensation and I’m never looking back! Thanks Dave.


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  • Cannadude

    Good info but still not sure about sending radio, low frequency pulses to my brain area…wtf?

  • Cannadude

    Best way to prevent poison is to not ingest poison.

    • Steven Fowkes

      A good way to prevent carcinogenesis from real-life carcinogens is to regularly eat poisons from the cruciferous vegetable family. The liver’s induced metabolism of the phytotoxins also metabolizes common carcinogens. So in a very real sense, the healthiest diets (low-carb, vegetable-rich) are the most toxic (highest in phytotoxins). Similar issues apply to exercise in keeping the free radical load and the healing burden within the adaptive capacity of the body. Goes to the old saying, “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” A gross oversimplification, for sure. But the counterintuitive sense is the same.

  • Josh Gatti

    What about honey wine (mead)?

  • Josh Gatti

    Why wont it let me print out the comments?

  • Brendan

    The infographic mentions alcohol lowers blood sugar. Does it do this directly, or does it stimulate a spike in insulin which then decreases blood sugar?


  • Ayam

    is there seriously that much difference between wine and vodka for example. Category one and three. And beer and wine are about in the same category. Its hard becoming bulletproof some times (except when I have my warm cup of joe (bp of course)

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  • Chad Jones

    Very helpful information. But what about the study that showed a dual protective as well as damaging effect of NAC depending on when it is taken?

    The study shows that if NAC is taken 30 minutes before ethanol consumption that it provides the expected protection that we understand. Strangely, however, the study showed that if the NAC was taken after drinking (I don’t know if this means during drinking or way after) that it actually does damage to the liver? I’m starting to wonder if it’s just better to take L-Cysteine?

    What do you make of this??

  • hopy

    Only an open-minded person could write this kind of content. I agree with your points and I really enjoyed this article a lot. Great article!

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  • Larry Johnston

    I am an avid home brewer and would like to read more about beer and how it is bad for you in regards to the bulletproof diet. Any cool articles on the subject? Or a brief overview of why beer is bad for you would be cool. Thanks!

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  • ddd

    you say that beer is bad. while I’ve seen a study here and there trying to correlate beer and testosterone levels (and estrogen), are you working backwards from a paleo assumption that human being once didn’t subsist off these foods therefore they are not likely to be healthy, or do you have body of evidence (studies) which would seem to support this? I am a beer drinker, and I sometimes come across people saying that beer as opposed to wine is bad. I’ve looked at a few studies myself and they seem to focus on whether concentrations of a molecule are increasing or decreasing, and extrapolate from this what it might mean. By this measure, almost everything causes and cures cancer( a little hyperbolic but you get the idea), because by focusing on one or two molecules you can imply what might happening without showing what happens. Studies that don’t take into account the mechanics of what is happening at the molecular level, just what happens (live, die, sick, not sick), show no significant difference between wine and beer in terms of life expectancy. Does what I’ve said not ring true with you, and if so, why not? and also, are your thoughts based on observation about human beings right now, or based on how you think humans should eat based on your belief about the evolution of man? I do not wish to dispute the evolution of man. We could even assume that we agree on this. My question is whether these views lead you to extrapolate what man should eat based on assumptions that man evolved around a certain kind of diet, that man is not so plastic as to evolve to eat some other things safely, and on. In otherwords are you working backwards from a paradigm, or forward from fact. Even if you paradigm is based on fact. Are you working backward from it and making some assumptions.

    I could just sum all this up with, what are your facts? But now you have context.

    I am curious,
    Thank you

    • guest

      I think maybe you ‘extrapolated’ one too many beers when you wrote this my man.. lol

    • Steven Fowkes

      Dave is mycotoxin sensitive. I am not. Are you? That single fact might turn the clean-versus-toxic ranking on its ear.

      Beer and wine ferment with yeast, which are fungi. But different fungi make different mycotoxins, and to different degrees. They are not the same. And it makes a big difference whether fungi are starved of sugar or poisoned by accumulating alcohol. Happy fungi (drunk on sugar) do not produce much mycotoxin. They divert their metabolism to reproduction. Divide and conquer the world.

      But when they run out of sugar, they “jones” and produce mycotoxins. Kill your neighbor before it can kill you.

      In the wine and beer category, you also have two kinds of mycotoxins. (1) The mycotoxins produced during the fermentation. And (2) the mycotoxins that were already present on the grapes or grain prior to fermentation. Thus, early-harvest wines will generally have less mold chemicals than late-harvest wines.

      I hope this helps a bit in answering your question.

      • ddd

        I want to say that I’m not mycotoxin sensitive, but I feel that the statement has about as much truth value as saying I don’t have a ghost infection. I don’t mean to sound like a jerk (really), but I think its nonsense. Now mycotoxins exist, we know they do, but this other idea that people are getting sick from them isn’t supported.

        I brew beer so I have a rudimentary understanding of fermentation, and the concerns of fermentation byproducts also apply to wine. In fact wine produces more methanol than beer, which produces the least methanol out of wine, beer, and liquor. You can use wine yeast in beer.. depending on the yeast and the beer it might not affect flavor much. You can use ale yeast in wine, you’ll just get less alcohol (and an inferior product). A lot of the byproducts that contribute to hangovers are “cleaned up” well after the primary fermentation occurs. In fact, the more “harmful” byproducts occur the earliest when there is plenty of food but not enough oxygen. Depending on the strain of yeast, it will go dormant as the alcohol concentration rises, but enough will remain active to metabolize as food the early byproducts of fermentation which is why an aged beer and wine tastes better. Temperature also matters, as higher temps can result in fusel alcohols that taste bad and create hangovers as well. Wine is no more immune to this than beer.

      • ddd

        As well, hard liquors tend to have a lot of congeners and even the higher quality products still have a much higher methanol concentration that either beer or wine. Further, and anecdotally, hard liquor causes me to flush in even small amounts. My skin turns red with hives and my heart races.

      • ddd

        To sum up the main point of my tome of a first post, what I usually hear are reasons why beer *should* be bad for you based on some observation. What I don’t usually hear (or see) is clear evidence that beer *is* bad for you, compared to wine or spirits. So it seems like a lot of conjecture or “extrapolating” based on observations (carbs are bad…) Studies on moderate beer drinking have shown an increased life expectancy which probably has more to do with the effects of alcohol on blood lipids than the other components. Thanks for the reply.

  • Gary Hughes

    Noticed that cider made using apples isnt represented at all. Where does it feature ?

  • EMT

    I have experimented with NAC and vitamin C throughout the session and taking ALA before and after along with activated charcoal with good results. Just purchased upgraded glutathione. If I take glutathione before and after drinking would this allow me to abandon the NAC/vitamin C regimen? Popping pills in a bar/club is socially unacceptable, and can even attract attention from security at some venues…

    • guest

      That’s why you pop them in the restroom…. duh

  • ok heh

    The infographic says Vitamin C @ 500mgs, yet the link is for Vitamin C @ 1000mgs. Which is it, please?

    Dosed NAC pills between drinks last Sat, funny explaining to someone that you’re NOT doing Ecstasy.

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  • Beyond Floatation

    So would you take glutathione before drinking, after drinking or the morning after?

  • mony1
  • thehungrysheeplookup

    from – “…glutathione is not absorbed when taken by mouth, so such supplements are almost certainly useless. It may be possible, however, to raise glutathione levels in the body by taking other supplements, such as vitamin C, cysteine, lipoic acid, and N-acetylcysteine. Whether doing so would offer any health benefits remains unclear.”

  • thehungrysheeplookup

    As Chad Jones pointed out with this study , if we are anything like rats, then we should probably only take one dose of NAC prior to drinking and none during or after…

  • feafea

    I heard that the NAC moves mercury into your brain. Just like ALA does. Is the NAC or Cysteine+Vitamin C effective as a long term producer of glutathione? Steve Fowkes, Dave Asprey.

    • Steven Fowkes

      I think that is true that NAC, cysteine, ALA and glutathione (and cilantro) move mercury into your brain. But the other side of the story is that they also move mercury out of your brain. I think of them as sponges for mercury, all based on the mercury-sulfur affinity. Sponged mercury (sulfur-bound mercury) is dramatically less toxic than free mercury. This is the foundational basis for our mercury defense system.

      I do not think NAC or cysteine are effective at raising mercury over an extended period of time. A few days is my best guess for the increase in glutathione. After that, the glutathione biofeedback loop has kicked in.

      But the benefits of NAC and cysteine are delivered by their sulfhydryl groups. Neither need to be converted into glutathione to do their acetaldehyde-scavenging job. So despite any sustainability limitations, both can be applied to short-term aldehyde exposures, which is exactly what drinking alcohol entails, and as I said elsewhere, what exposure to toxic buildings or shellac solvent entails.

  • feafea

    also whats a long term cheap way to keep up glutathione. Is NAC in 100 mg doses good and sustainable?

    • Steven Fowkes

      Eat variably such that you flirt with ketosis on a regular basis. This keeps your NADPH primed, which keeps your glutathione and ascorbate reduced.

      While NAC, cysteine, whey protein and glutathione are heavily promoted as means of raising glutathione, these effects are (1) short term, at least as measured by published studies, and/or (2) measured in white and red blood cells, which are atypical populations of cells and not trustworthy representatives of glutathione status in the cells which matter. What I want to see is glutathione increases sustained over timeframes of longer than 1 week in heart, brain, kidney, liver and/or muscle. (I believe that one week is long enough for the glutathione negative-feedback loop to have fully compensated for any precursor-loading effect.)

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  • Michael Mazepa

    I HATE YOU DAVE!!!!!!

    Because I’ve tried this twice and it works amazingly well… hahaha… Now i don’t feel as guilty when I drink.

    • Steven Fowkes

      It’s not just the guilt. Can you imagine a group of fit and happy alcoholics as role models? That should make some people cringe.

      What about fortifying alcoholic beverages with B-complex vitamins? That would ameliorate much of the debilitating effects of alcoholism. But then we’d lose the role model. Drinking = face down in the gutter. Healthy drunks is bad news. For amusement, consider the following “alternative” book to Joan Matthews Larson’s Seven Weeks to Sobriety, Drink as Much as You Want and Live Longer (by Frederick Beyerlein). Basically, they offer the same information, but the first is a no-alcohol protocol and the latter is… not.

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  • Alex B.

    What a bunch of pansies!!! This is what is wrong with the world today. Men acting like women.
    If you cant handle a drink and need a science lesson on how to prevent a hangover, DON’T DRINK AT ALL!!!
    I am originally from Russia, and unfortunately the stereotype of us drinking ALOT is true for quite a considerable portion of the population. It is a very considerable part of the culture.
    Here is a simple set of rules to follow:
    NEVER DRINK ALONE!!! – First sign of alcoholism.
    Eat lots of food as you drink. Beef Stroganoff with salad, bread and potatoes, NOT bar peanuts with chips.
    Drink lots of mineral water, seltzer or just plain water all through the evening.
    Do a “zakuska” after each drink. Which means take a bite of food after each drink. Only exception is when drinking to someone’s memory, do not take food or clink the glasses after toasting to the deceased as a sign of respect.
    Don’t do drinking contests to see who can take the most shots. You’re there to enjoy yourself, not prove how sober you can stay after drinking a liter of vodka. (Russian humor: If you are such a tough guy that thinks he doesn’t get drunk, no matter how much he drinks, don’t waste vodka and just leave it for your friends who do get drunk while drinking it.)
    Make long toasts, have long talks between drinks and stick to just one liquor. Vodka is best. Depending on your blood pressure situation, Brandy or Cognac is fine as well. Beer is not considered drinking in Russia.
    Dance and/or do lots of physical activity during your drinking. It will help keep you from drinking, at the very least while dancing or arm-wrestling.
    Be with a good looking woman, and be aware of your progressing condition so as to not mess up your chances, or risk her walking away with someone who can still stand… on his feet :)
    Be with good friends who know your limits and vice-versa.
    Give your keys to your loved one who is not drinking. If you drive better drunk than she does sober, stop drinking and wait about an hour for each drink you took before you head out. Sleep it off in the car , or preferably and don’t drive at all.
    Go outside into the cold periodically. This will make you realize how really drunk you are as soon as you leave the comfort of the loud bar or restaurant and go into the quiet and rotating street :)
    Once you start getting aggressive or too shaky on your feet, switch to coffee or tea, heavy deserts and fruit and wash your face with cold water.

    Don’t drink any alcohol after desert at all. Just more dancing and talking.

    And if you insist on the hangover cure for the next day being a requirement, here are three Russian methods from best to worst, after eating breakfast and calling your friends to make sure everyone got home safe of course (Any combination or even all three are always a good option):
    1. Drink 100gm (slang for 100 ml) of Vodka. As crazy as it sounds, you will feel much better in a few minutes, just force it down. Having a nice beer instead is good as well.
    2. Drink pickle brine (Kosher pickles preferably, not the chemically colored and saturated with vinegar version). This will re-hydrate you better than any diabetes-ade sugar water.
    3. Go for a swim/shower in very cold water, and go for a jog or some other light to moderate physical activity. The headache will go away quicker if you’re not sitting in bed or on the couch feeling sorry for yourself.

    P.S.: Being aggressive while drunk is not an effect to be blamed on the alcohol, but the effect of your inhibitions going away and your true personality coming out. If you are not a decent person when sober and just keep it quiet from people, don’t get drunk and let it out.

    P.P.S.: Never take any medicine, it’s better to suffer through a simple headache and get on with your life later that day. You will be a better and healthier man for it in the long run. Of course never mix medicine while drinking alcohol either.
    Drink medicine and visit a doctor only if a body part is falling off, heart attack, or stroke. Otherwise just grind your teeth and curse under your breath :)

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  • Kymberlie7

    I took ALA after reading Over the Counter Cures and had the worst panic attacks ever. I thought I was dying. After doing some research I found out that ALA can cause hypoglycemia (causing anxiety) and in rare cases IAS. I didn’t have blood sugar problems prior. Word of caution.

  • Sara Petrey

    I tried this just last night and it works like a charm. I didn’t have to do the last two steps but I will say that you forgot to mention L-glutamine in there. The L-glutamine helps with those of us who get disrupted sleep due to alcohol. It is worth writing about since it’s always helped me sleep through the night and feel refreshed in the morning but after trying your Vitamin C and NAC technique, I feel awesome! Thanks for the advice. :)

  • Jennifersafox

    Hey! Does potato or grain vodka make a difference?

  • Steven Fowkes

    From an email…

    “I really liked the NAC+C stuff in the Bulletproofexec article. I’ve found great success with that combination to leave me feeling great the day after a few too many drinks. Something crossed my mind that I wanted your take on: so NAC+C prevents the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde, right?”

    No. It merely “soaks up” the acetaldehyde temporarily.

    “And it’s the acetaldehyde that produces hangovers, immune supression, rapid aging, etc.”

    Yes. But not only. Congeners and mycotoxins are also sources of toxicity.

    “But is that conversion process also what gets you drunk?”

    No. Acetaldehyde does not get you drunk. It is the alcohol *before* metabolism to acetaldehyde that gets you drunk.

    “In other words, will taking NAC+C also prevent the feelings of intoxication (and some would argue well-being) when you drink?”

    No. You will be as fully incapable of operating a motor vehicle or juggling chainsaws on C+cysteine as without.

    “And how about the really bad effects alcohol has on sleep-quality (esp. restorative REM sleep?) Is that something that taking NAC+C can help prevent?”

    Yes. But too much excitotoxicity also sabotages sleep, as can mycotoxins and congeners. And so can delayed sensitivities to allergic components in beer, wine or spirits. If you are allergic to wheat, beer could sabotage your sleep.

    “In a nutshell, I’m just curious about whether blocking the conversion to acetaldehyde essentially renders most/all effects of alcohol inert…or whether its effect is limited, and there are still a bunch of alcohol-related nasties that NAC+C’s won’t impede.”

    There may be a few effects that NAC/cysteine blocks, but not the alcohol. NAC and cysteine are acidifying-catabolic-aerobic and alcohol is alkalinizing-anabolic-anaerobic. This is a balancing effect similar to putting oil-and-vinegar dressing (acidifying-catabolic-aerobic influences) on green leafy vegetables (all are alkalinizing-anabolic-anaerobic). But on the whole, NAC/cysteine only blocks the acetaldehyde-toxicity mechanism.

  • jbow

    Any help on becoming alcohol free, 40 years a heavy drinker.

    • Naomi

      In comments to another podcast, a few people raved about Allen Carr’s book, Stop Drinking Now. I haven’t read it, but a number of people said it was very helpful for them. You also may have some gut dysbiosis driving cravings. Consider comprehensive stool testing, such as Genova’s; you may find sugar-craving bugs like yeast are affecting your need for alcohol. Experiment with resistant starch, as it feeds “good” gut bugs, which sometimes enables them to kill those that drive booze cravings. Keep searching. Good luck.

      • jbow

        Thanks Naomi, have done all the stop drinking books, not much good. Agree with your comments on sugar cravings will follow up on your advice, thanks again.

    • seb

      I’m also looking into anti-craving supplements as I need to quit my 20 yo habit.
      Haven’t tried most of these so I can’t suggest but take it as hints.
      Some nootropics like racetams are said to have an effect on addiction mecanism.
      Agmatine sulfate (normally used for bodybuilding) but has nootropic effects, anxiolytic and anti-addiction.
      Kudzu as an anti-craving
      Phenibut or Picamillon

      there you go. I think I just built a nice stack for myself ;)

  • rebecca huff

    This is a huge help for me on GNO. Luckily for me I already like the drinks that are ok, like Maker’s Mark or Vodka :)

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