You’re human. You’re going to drink this weekend and that’s ok as long as you’re smart about what you’re doing.
This isn’t an article that’s going to preach about not drunk driving and why you shouldn’t drink alcohol (but, you should get a cab if you’ve been drinking. Or you should spend the night on the couch wherever you’re at).
Is there such a thing as smart drinking? Sure…
It’s rare that the bad doesn’t come with the good. If you drink beer, wine, or liquor, there will be consequences. However, there are ways to limit them.
#1) Drink Moderately
Just don’t drink that much. Or try the Coyote Ugly approach if you feel like you’ve got to keep up with your friends.
Grab a mostly empty bottle of beer for a chaser. After you take your shot, spit the liquor into the bottle. Hopefully none of your friends have eagle eyes or they’ll notice that your beer is steadily getting more alcohol.
#2) Don’t Drink on an Empty Stomach.
This one’s a no-brainer. However, what you should be eating before you drink is fatty foods. The idea here is that the fat/oil will stick to your stomach lining and ultimately reduces the effects of the alcohol. Plus fats are good for you – fats like avocado, coconut oil, and nuts. (This is not an excuse to eat french fries and fried oreos.)
#3) Don’t Mix Alcohol and Diet Soda.
Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, multiple studies were done on mixing diet soda with alcohol vs their regular sugar-containing versions. Like this study that only involved 16 people. However, the results were similar to two other previous studies.
One of the study’s authors noted the difference between diet soda and the regular version is that the human body doesn’t recognize artificial sweeteners as sugar or food. Sugar actually slows down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. However, that doesn’t mean it’s ok to go and drink tons of sugary drinks. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t.
#4) Don’t Drink a Lot of Sugar.
Yes, drinking Coke instead of Diet Coke is better, but you shouldn’t be drinking a lot of sugary drinks anyway. Too much sugar will make you puke. And no one wants that – especially the person you went to the party with. So do yourself, your buddy, or your significant other a favor and read #1 again.
#5) Drink Lots of Water.
Alcohol can and will dehydrate you. If you have a hangover the next day, being dehydrated is the likely culprit. Let’s avoid that.
You should try to drink about as much water as alcohol you have. Or half a glass of water for every shot you take. The easiest way to do this is to alternate your drinks. And right before you go to bed, drink some more water for good measure. Honestly, of everything above, this is arguably 2nd most important. The most important is #1 (that’s why it’s #1).
#6) Drink This Before You Drink.
Your liver is going to be working hard if you’re drinking alcohol all night, so make its life a little easier by assisting it with some supplements to help you detox. So about an hour before you start drinking, take the following three supplements: 400 mg ALA (alpha lipoic acid), 600 mg N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), and B Complex (make sure it contains 3-4 mg of B1).
NAC is in the mix because it’s the precursor to glutathione. Glutathione helps your liver detox. Simple enough. Ideally, you should take 600 mg of NAC about every hour you drink, but at the very least, you should take it before and after you drink. (Side note: Taking NAC and marathon drinking is not going to work. You’ll still have a massive hangover.)
Thiamine (B1) helps NAC work even better and the rest of the B vitamins help with enzymatic processes. ALA is a potent antioxidant and it also helps increase glutathione. Powerful stuff.
A quick word on “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”
Alcohol is alcohol. Your body can only take so much in a limited amount of time. So regardless of if you chase your liquor with beer, if you’re drinking a Boilermaker, or you only drink liquor and then you follow up with beer, you’re going to get sick if you over consume. For a reminder, please see #1.
The only reason this may even partially work is because you get drunk faster while drinking liquor, so you may recognize how drunk you are first. But if you ignore that sign and keep downing beer, you’ll still puke and have a hangover. It’s just a matter of time.
That’s being said, it’s a good idea to drink one type of liquor the entire night. If you haven’t seen Jim Breuer talk about alcohol, watch this now. If you have seen it before, it’s worth another watch. It’s a perfect analogy of why you throw up.
But maybe the night didn’t go as planned.
So You’ve Got a Hangover…Now What?
You feel absolutely terrible. There’s a jerk with a jackhammer right outside your house. The phone won’t stop ringing and for some strange reason, you’ve never had to poop more in your life.
Actually, there’s a very good reason for that. Alcohol, in addition to being a diuretic, contains ethanol which makes you run to the bathroom. Ethanol accelerates the digestive process, so the day after drinking you may end up with watery stools – as if you weren’t already dehydrated enough.
If your immediate thought is to get the greasiest thing you can find and wash it down with a pot of coffee, stop. You did enough damage yesterday. There’s no need to continue down the path of self-induced destruction.
Instead, roll over and get back on track.
So you should reach for Gatorade or Pedialyte, right? I wouldn’t. Again, you’re trying to get back on track. You don’t want artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup circulating through your body. So the best thing to do is to make a cocktail (Or drink some water and go back to sleep. Sleeping it off is entirely valid, but only a small percent of people actually have the time to sleep off their hangover).
The Hangover Cocktail
-Glass of water
-Pinch of Himalayan salt
-Local, raw honey to taste (no more than one Tablespoon. Only use one teaspoon if you’re going to drink more than one glass)
-Juice of ½ lemon, freshly squeezed (not the crap in the green bottles)
-300 – 500 mcg Molybdenum (only take one time per day)
Remember all that peeing you did last night? A single glass of water probably isn’t going to make up for that. So you’ll more than likely need to drink several glasses of water. Space them out a little bit so you don’t upset your stomach though.
Salt, honey, lemon are in the cocktail partly to assist with the taste, partly because of the what they’ll give you. Since you’re dehydrated, it’s important to drink plenty of water. The better your hangover water tastes, the more you’ll probably drink. Lemon also contains antioxidants and vitamin C – awesome for the day after. Himalayan salt will help replace valuable electrolytes.
Molybdenum requires a bit more of an explanation. Ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is nasty and is part of what makes you feel like crap. Molybdenum has the wonderful ability to convert acetaldehyde to acetic acid so it can be removed from your body.
A Virgin Bloody Mary wouldn’t be a terrible idea either. It’s full of antioxidants and minerals and can help you on your way to feeling better. But let’s be honest with ourselves. You’re miserable and making a Bloody Mary the right way isn’t exactly high on your list of things you need to do that day. Stay away from mixers and ingredients that are going to burden your liver and body even more. And whatever you do, do not tie one on. It’s time to reboot and get back on track – not start drinking again.
Have a Happy Halloween and a hangover-free November!