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[Recipes] FOR SCIENCE! Meet The NorCal Margarita, The Leanest Drink On Earth


Meet the NorCal Margarita, the leanest drink on earth. Better known as a tequila-ed up version of a Vodka Soda & Lime—with a catchy name—it’s a Paleo-friendly drink that strips out the sugar, artificial flavors, and other junk from the traditional margarita and distills it down to the clean, bare essentials.

The NorCal’s hidden superpowers, however, come straight from SCIENCE. For starters, it’s made in 5 easy steps (20 oz. glass):

1. Pour 1 shot (1.5 oz) of 100% agave tequila — I like Herradura, Patron, or Espolon. Go crazy if you want a stronger drink.
2. Add plenty of juice + pulp from one lime. Muddle that ish up.
3. Add ice and shake.
4. Finish it by filling your glass with soda water — I LOVE La Croix for an extra layer of flavor. It’s got no cals, it’s au naturel, and they’ve got plenty of delicious flavors to flavor your marg however you want. My go-to is always the mango.
5. Garnish with salt.

Muddled mint also goes really well, for a fresh a mojito-esque twist.


What’s So Lean About The NorCal Margarita?

We’ve laid this out in brutal detail, but lean-drinking is about efficiency — keep the calories and sugar down, malevolent mixers out, and the impact on blood sugar even lower. That’s the magic formula for abdominal preservation, while staying social.

Outside of the obvious low-calorie, low-sugar, pure & natural angle — a 1-shotter has a slim 97 calories & ZERO sugar, all from the tequila — The NorCal excels because it leverages chemistry to work in your belly’s favor, in the form of lime and bubbly:

1. Lime suppresses the insulin response caused by alcohol and helps maintain insulin sensitivity (a key to preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes). In this case, increased insulin levels trigger your body to store body fat; lime helps protect against that.

2. CO2 (in seltzer) opens the pyloric valve in the stomach, which speeds up the alcohol’s rate of absorption in the small intestine. This gets alcohol into your blood faster and amplifies its effect on the body.

Translation: you can drink less for the same effects. Recent studies show that mixing with diet soda can lead to heightened BAC without realizing it, so be cautious if driving.123

3. BONUS: Tequila comes from the agave plant, as opposed to a grain or starch (vodka). Vodka can contain gluten and may cause gut irritation.

Lime (suppressed insulin response) + Seltzer (increased absorption; “less for more”) = one efficient, lean, potent drink, sans cals or sugar.

That’s drinking math.

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
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  1. Roberts C, Robinson SP. Alcohol concentration and carbonation of drinks: the effect on blood alcohol levels. J Forensic Leg Med. 2007 Oct;14(7):398-405. Epub 2007 May 16. []
  2. MedLine — Alcohol []
  3. Time — Diet-Soda Mixers Can Lead to Quicker Intoxication []
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