How to Prevent a Hangover Before, During, and After a Night of Drinking
Avoid waking up in rough shape with these preventive hangover pointers and natural remedies.
Even if you pride yourself on drinking in moderation, the dreaded hangover doesn't often play favorites. Sometimes, the easiest way to cure a hangover is actually to prevent one in the first place (but not by avoiding cocktails altogether, don't worry). Being prepared with a hangover prevention plan will help you counteract a night (or day) of drinking and avoid feeling sick tomorrow. Here are the best, proven hangover prevention tips from doctors and experts, as well as potential remedies if those hangover symptoms still hit the morning after a big night out.
How to Prevent a Hangover Before You Drink
Eat fatty foods.
All foods, especially fatty ones, delay the body's absorption of alcohol, doctors say. And delaying the absorption of alcohol is a good step toward avoiding a hangover. An easy food to eat before going out that's filled with healthy fats is avocado—so you won't regret an order of guacamole for the table.
Eat high-fiber foods.
Chris Meletis, the dean of naturopathic medicine and chief medical officer at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, explains that high-fiber foods—like Brussels sprouts, lentils, and popcorn—break down alcohol and absorb it, keeping it from reaching the bloodstream as quickly.
Load up on vitamin C.
How to Prevent a Hangover While You Drink
Avoid what? Congeners are the compounds that give liquor its flavor and color. Every type of alcohol contains congeners, but dark alcohols, including red wine and whiskey, generally have more of them than lighter ones. These toxic chemicals may set off an inflammatory response that helps bring on hangover symptoms, and many turn into poisonous aldehydes as they're digested the next day.
"Opt for lighter color, highly filtered alcohol," says Jeffrey Wiese, a professor of medicine at Tulane University. Typically, the more expensive the alcohol, the more filtered it is and the fewer congeners there are to cause a hangover. SKYY Vodka, for instance, makes a point of its "four-column distillation," "three-step filtration," and "exceptional purity."
Stick to one kind of drink.
You can keep better track of how much you're drinking, and you're less likely to upset your stomach.
Research has found that the presence of bubbles—either in a carbonated beverage like champagne or in a still liquor mixed with sparkling or tonic water—can speed up the rate of alcohol absorption. The carbonation can cause the surface area of the stomach to expand, which leads to increased alcohol absorption (and higher likelihood of an unpleasant morning after).
Alternate with water.
Drinking water during the festivities really is a good way to keep a hangover at bay. One, it replenishes your hydration levels, which is key to hangover prevention since alcohol is dehydrating. And two, alternating will help you pace yourself with the hard stuff.
How to Prevent a Hangover After You Drink
Drink lots of water.
Think of it as a cleansing rinse cycle. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to flush out fluids more quickly than other drinks and leads to serious dehydration. After a night on the town, sip on even more water than you usually need to.
Drink fruit juices.
There's some evidence that fructose, the sugar in fruit, burns alcohol. According to doctors, fructose will also restore a person's blood sugar level. (Watch out for a sugar rush and the ensuing crash, though.)
Grab some Pedialyte.
Yes, this drink is often given to kids who need to hydrate, but Pedialyte has also made a name for itself as an effective hangover buster for the 21-and-older crowd. The hydrating formula, which you can buy in several different flavors and forms (powder mix, sports drink, ice pops), replenishes sugars and fluid-balancing electrolytes—essential during a hangover.
Eat bland carbohydrates.
Hello, dry toast and oyster crackers. Plain carbs help absorb any alcohol left in the stomach, provide sugar, and combat nausea.
A good way to combat low glucose is by spreading a tablespoon or two of antioxidant- and fructose-loaded honey onto your morning toast.
Nutrient-rich eggs contain the chemical N-acetyl-cysteine, which can help clear the liver of harmful free radicals. Here are 11 easy egg recipes you can whip up next time a round of drinks leaves you feeling under the weather.
Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories provide headache relief without upsetting the stomach. (Be careful not to make a habit of relying on pain-relievers containing ibuprofen, since some doctors warn they react with alcohol to damage the liver.)
Exercise (if you're able to).
Listen to your body: If you're basically incapacitated from a hangover, forcing yourself to work out probably isn't wise—you're excused to lie on the couch and make people bring you things. However, if you're up for it, many people swear by a good sweat for clearing the hangover fog. Getting mild to moderate exercise increases circulation and metabolism and can rid the body of toxins.