Alcohol is apart of most cultures across the world. Whether it be for celebrating marriages, part of a business meeting, socializing with friends, or celebrating the hometown win, alcohol is usually present. Chances are if you drink, at one point or another you have had a terrible hangover.
When you wake up with a pounding headache, an environment that seems to be spinning, and a stomach ache so strong you surrender to the fetal position … it really kills the buzz from the night before. Since no one that drinks enjoys a hangover … we are left with one question, how do you prevent a hangover? There are many theories on what you can do, but the only way to ensure you do not get a hang over is to not drink. With that said, you can help reduce the chance of a hangover with a few easy tricks before, during, and after you drink.
How To Prevent A Hangover
When you are heading out for the night to drink, make sure you eat something before you go. Having food in your stomach will help “soak up” the alcohol and reduce irritation in your stomach. Having food in your stomach will also reduce the formation of acetaldehyde in your stomach. Which if you read what causes hangovers, you know it is a chemical produced during the metabolization of alcohol and is the main cause for wicked hangovers.
What To Do Before You Start Drinking
I realize that having food in your stomach is a bit general so let me get more specific.
It is best to have protein and complex carbohydrates foods before drinking. They will offer a few benefits such as slowing the absorption of alcohol, keeping your liver glycogen levels up to help with processing alcohol and avoiding cravings later, as well as keeping you full.
Also, having a little bit of fat before drinking is a good idea A good pre-drinking meal might include salmon or chicken with some sort of potato or rice and of course … a few veggies. If that doesn’t sound appealing, maybe a chicken sandwich, turkey wrap, or a salad and dinner roll.
Taking a quality multi-vitamin or even a product specific to helping prevent hangovers with this meal is also beneficial as your body goes through many nutrients processing alcohol. Pair that with losing nutrients through an increase in bathroom trips and you can quickly become nutrient deficient.
What To Do After You Start Drinking
For starters, stick to one type of alcohol. When you start mixing various types of alcohol, mixers, additives, and so forth you drastically increase your chance of hangovers.
There is an exception here. Champagne or carbonated mixed drinks. If you are at a celebration and champagne is served, have one glass and then move on to the alcohol you will drink for the rest of the event.
Don’t rush your drinks. There is no reward for hammering through your drink as quickly as possible. Take your time, enjoy the company you are surrounded by and don’t rush finishing your drink. Along with this, I think it goes without saying but remember, shots are the exact opposite of this. Though they are “less” liquid… they pack a punch and you can go from fine, to intoxicated very quickly. This will make it hard to gauge your limits and drink with sensible moderation.
Knowing your limit is not important just for avoiding a hangover but for being safe as well.
Another good habit for preventing a hangover and staying safe is simply drinking a glass of water after each drink. This will keep you hydrated and help your body process alcohol more efficiently. Even while you are out with friends, you can help avoid a hangover by sticking to one type of alcohol, avoiding champagne and carbonated drinks, drinking water between alcoholic beverages, and of course …. knowing your limits.
What To Do After You Stop Drinking
Now, even when the night is over, there are easy steps you can take prevent a hangover. Simply start rehydrating to get fluids back in your body. This would also be a good time to get nutrients back in your system.
Similar to eating before you drink, eating a little something and taking vitamins after drinking will help you wake up feeling much better. Once again, having some protein and complex carbs is a great option … even though most of us are more likely to go for the pizza. From a hangover standpoint, and preventing one, it’s not a bad idea… from you reaching your goals standpoint… not so much. But hey, fitness is a lifestyle and sometimes you just need to have the pizza and move on without stressing over it as it won’t make or break your results when had on occasion.
Once you finish with your late night snack, lay down and get some sleep! When you wake up, continue the rehydrating process and have a well-rounded breakfast!
By doing all of these simple steps you should be well on your way to preventing a hangover. To be clear, I am not saying you can go get blackout drunk, do these steps and wake up fine. Once again, the only way to avoid any potential for a hangover is not drinking. What I am saying is that if you follow the above steps and drink sensibly, you will be much less likely to wake up with a skull splitting, stomach-churning hangover.
Have a good time, but always drink responsibly. Do NOT drink and drive!
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.