Hangover Prevention 101
Hangover Prevention 101
Did your night finish with a hangover? Let's talk hangover cures and ways to treat this unwelcomed visitor.
Sometimes you wake up in the mornin’ feelin’ like P. Diddy. Other times you just wake up in the morning with a really bad hangover, a game in an hour, and no idea of how to remedy the hangover in time.
Let’s be serious, the only real way to ensure you wont have a hangover is to abstain from booze. But in real life, sometimes “just one beer” turns into Jager Bombs, and before you know it it’s the following AM and you have a pounding headache and one shoe on. While you may not be able to take back last night's mistakes, there are a few things you can do to decrease your misery….
Let’s rewind and start with the previous evening, before your “Don’t Stop Believin’” solo (cringe), and chat about what you should’ve done and – even though you just swore you’re never drinking again and know that alcohol and strength gains don't mix – what you’re going to do next time:
- Eat dinner. While having anything in your stomach will be helpful, high fat/high protein meals (think meals containing healthy fats like olive oil or avocado with lean meat, chicken or fish) are ideal because they’re slowly digested, and therefore slow the rate of alcohol hitting your blood stream. This gives your body more time to process alcohol byproducts.
- Switch off between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (particularly water), 1:1, all night long. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it’ll make you pee a lot. If you switch off with water, you’ll prevent dehydration and many related hangover symptoms the next day.
- Skip dark liquors. Dark liquors like rye, dark rum, whiskey, contain toxins called congeners that are created during fermenting. The darker the alcohol, the more congeners – and the more likely you are to have a hangover. So stick to clear or light liquors like vodka, clear rum, and gin.
- Beer before liquor, never been sicker? No scientific evidence to that myth... but it is true that if you stick to one drink all night you're less likely to have as brutal of a hangover - Think of it as your body having fewer types of toxins to fight off.
- Just say no to shots. Once they begin, there’s no going back.
Be conscious of the calories. You've worked too hard for that bod to squander it at night!
- Always go top shelf. And while I’m partially saying that to help out the lucky ladies you’re obviously buying drinks for, cheap-o liquors aren’t distilled to the same extent as top shelf, meaning there are far more impurities in Popov than in Grey Goose.
True or False… Eating before bed will make your hangover less miserable.
False, friends! Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but eating ½ a pizza before bed won’t “soak up” the alcohol. Taco Bell, yogurt, Chinese food, or ice cream sundaes won’t help either. Food needs to be in your stomach beforehand to slow the absorption of alcohol. After all that drinking, you’re not doing any hangover preventing, you’re just adding to your Freshman 15.
But, do drink water before bed! Improve your hydration and dilute the alcohol in your blood stream.
THE NEXT DAY:
So it’s the day after, and too late for any of those recommendations. Before you reach for that bottle of Tylenol, HOLD IT!
- Taking Tylenol (Acetaminophen) is seriously the worst thing you can do for a hangover. The combination of it mixed with alcohol can lead to serious liver toxicity. Aspirin and ibuprofin (Advil) are better options – but can increase stomachaches/nausea so don’t overdo it and make sure you don’t take them on an empty stomach.
- HYDRATE!! As you know, alcohol has a diuretic effect and many of the symptoms of your hangover are worsened by dehydration– like the headache, shakiness and nausea. Water will be your lifesaver.
- While water is a necessity, you do need to replenish nutrients lost – Gatorade or Vitamin Water may make you feel better. Make a ½ water + ½ sports drink mixture and replace electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride), and provide your bod with some simple carbohydrates. Or, follow Alyssa's lead and make your own sports drink. If that’s not available, try water with a dash of salt and sugar.
- Your night was bananas. So eat one and replace the potassium you lost. Other good sources of potassium are oranges and tomatoes/tomato juice.
- Love eggs, from your head down to your legs – Besides the fact that they’ll provide a solid amount of protein, eggs contain an amino acid called cysteine, which breaks down a hangover inducing toxin called acetaldehyde and may speed up your recovery process.
- Skip the greasy breakfast! While eggs might help, greasy homefries, sausage and bacon wont increase your energy levels or alleviate hangover symptoms. Instead go with blander complex carbohydrates, like whole wheat bread or crackers to elevate your blood sugar and settle your stomach.
- Skip coffee, which, just like alcohol, is a diuretic and can make dehydration and hangover headaches even worse.
- “Hair of the dog” won’t do you any good, either. Having a bloody mary or mimosa will just prolong the misery, and add to the toxins your body (which totally hates you right now) has to process.
What did we learn here, kids? Don’t drink heavily the night before a big game because unfortunately the only real remedy for hangover is time. But in the mean time, in an effort to cure a hangover, hydrate like crazy, and treat yourself to the ideal hangover breakfast: a farmers omelet (omelet with veggies), whole wheat toast, and a piece of fruit (preferably a banana or orange). And hit the game winning homerun so those embarrassing pictures that already managed to turn up on facebook are old news. Oh yeah, and then be sure to re-read this before tonight’s celebratory night of debauchery that inevitably leads to another search for hangover cures.ShareThis
About the Author
Carolyn is a Nutritionist/Registered Dietitian and has her masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. She went to Tulane in New Orleans for undergrad, spent 3 months traveling around the world on Semester at Sea and then swung through Boulder, CO before landing in her current home of NYC. Carolyn has a blog called One Smart Brownie (www.onesmartbrownie.com) to simplify healthy eating for those who don’t spend their lives studying nutrition. Her favorite hobbies include getting new stamps on her passport and telling yo mama jokes, and she says that if she were to have a crush on a food it would be chocolate biscotti, no questions asked.
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