Even though it leaves you sick, tired, and beat the morning after, you can’t help but take up that invitation to enjoy a boozy night out—and I don’t blame you.
Life is for living! Enjoying time with friends and a few drinks now and then is worth the extra calories.
That said, there’s nothing life-giving about a hangover the next morning.
Instead of spending your next Sunday in bed next to the scaries, I’m going to give you the secret to curing that catatonic hangover and dominating the day after a night of drinking.
A hangover is our body’s way of telling us we went a little overboard the night before. It’s those dreaded symptoms, like vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, irritability, fatigue, headache, and stomach pain, that hit our body after it’s too full with tequila.
For some, a single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover. Others can drink heavily and avoid the entire escapade. Simply put, a hangover happens when alcohol depletes our bodies of critical nutrients, leaving us feeling sick and exhausted.
Our bodies were not built to process high levels of alcohol at once. While each of our bodies processes alcohol differently, alcohol itself doesn’t change. It’s enjoyable, but also full of toxins and, as a diuretic, pulls fluids and electrolytes from our systems. Alcohol is a nutrient thief, plain and simple.
In the short term, alcohol can cause a few issues. Dehydration, gastrointestinal disturbances, low blood sugar, disruption of sleep, headache, and alcohol withdrawal are just a few.
Symptoms become more serious as drinking sets into a long-term habit. While one night of drinking might not harm your body for long, repeated, daily drinking will eventually result in worse physical conditions. Excessive drinking can lead to liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer, stomach ulcers, immune dysfunctions, even brain damage.
The phrase “drink responsibly” has a whole new meaning once we realize the effects excessive alcohol can have on our health. The next six steps are not only a hangover cure, but they’ll help you take care of your body, even if you enjoy a brew or two on the weekend.
Next time you hit the bars and breweries, try these 6 tips for a great night out (and a pleasant morning after).
Hangovers happen when our bodies dedicate all its nutrients to flushing out and metabolizing the alcohol we drank. This process leaves the rest of your body lacking the resources it needs to do its day-to-day job. Nutrient deficiency can hinder simple physical functions, leading to hangover symptoms like digestion issues, fatigue, weakness, irritability, and muscle aches.
What you eat before drinking can hugely impact how you feel the next morning. Healthy whole foods will balance your electrolytes and help decrease some of the uncomfortable aftermath associated with alcohol. Unhealthy food, on the other hand, can worsen symptoms, further dehydration, and add heartburn and bloating to the mix.
Opt for a whole-food meal packed with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and clean protein. Enjoy a quinoa bowl with leafy greens, asparagus, sweet potato, beets, and avocado. Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and complex carbs, your body will be replenished and armed with nutrients that keep your systems movin’ and your body groovin’.
I get it. On a girls’ night out, you want to enjoy a “few” drinks. But if hangovers are ruining the next day, you can make it easier on yourself by cutting back on the booze a bit.
Most of the hangover symptoms worsen the more you drink. Drinking smart will not only benefit your waistline, it’s also a kind gesture to your future self once the buzz has worn off. The simplest and most effective way to stay healthy and avoid a hangover is to keep the drink count low.
On a regular basis, women should have no more than one serving of alcohol a day, and men should have no more than two. Aim for 2-3 drinks as your max on a night out if you want to have a happy day tomorrow.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to remove fluids and drain electrolytes much faster than normal. Many hangover symptoms, like headaches and nausea, are actually side effects of alcohol-induced dehydration.
Your body needs water, but it also needs a precise balance of electrolytes, like potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These electrolytes are what keep our cells from drying up from too little fluid or bursting with too much fluid.
Not only does alcohol make you flush fluids rapidly, but it also inhibits your body’s ability to absorb any remaining water. Alcohol blocks our production of a hormone called vasopressin. This hormone allows our kidneys to absorb and retain water. With every drink, your body starts flushing out fluids and struggling to use what’s left.
Drinking alcohol leads to dehydration, but water, among its many health and weight loss benefits, can help you rehydrate.
Add at least 16 oz of water to your daily intake for every serving of alcohol you consume. Consider adding an electrolyte mix to help your body maintain its balance. Stay hydrated before, during, and after you sip down those cocktails to minimize their ugly side effects.
If you want to skip the hangover, stick to clear liquors. Thanks to substances called congeners, which are much higher in darker liquors, brandy, bourbon, dark beer, and red wine aren’t as kind to our bodies the next morning.
One particular congener, called methanol, breaks down into the toxins formaldehyde and formic acid. These two toxins are hard for our bodies to process and make hangovers more severe.
If you’re determined to wake up refreshed the next morning, stick to clear liquors, like vodka, gin, and tequila. Enjoy a few vodka sodas, or one of my favorite calorie-friendly drinks, but keep the whiskey and wine to a glass or two.
Do you like to settle down for the night with a strong brew or tasty nightcap? While alcohol can make you feel sleepy and fall asleep quicker, it actually keeps your body from reaching rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep—a sleep stage that is critical for our learning capacity and memory.
When we drink alcohol, our bodies continue to process it while we’re sleeping, keeping our body and brain functioning at high levels throughout the night. As a result, alcohol impairs our sleep quality and increases the severity of our next-day hangover. Alcohol’s impairment of our sleep also results in lower activity levels the next day. It causes a snowball of symptoms that can be quieted by catching a few more z’s.
Sleep helps you feel great, lets your body lose excess weight, and it’s your right-hand man when it comes to combating that hangover. The longer you can sleep after a night of drinking, the better your chances are of a less severe hangover that leaves you feeling debilitated. Give your liver a chance to filter out all that booze, and rest for an hour or two longer than usual.
When our bodies try to metabolize alcohol, the process requires a lot of nutrients. As certain organs, like the liver, decrease their supply of these nutrients, our bloodstream tries to replenish its supply. As a result, our cells, which also need these nutrients to function properly, are deprived of them.
To counter the nutrient deficiency from alcohol consumption, give your body an extra boost of vitamins the next morning. One of the most common and serious vitamin deficiencies after drinking alcohol is a lack of B vitamins and Zinc. Both of these vitamins are critical for neurobiological health. Without enough of them, we can become depressed, irritable, confused, and apathetic.
Studies have shown that those who have higher amounts of Zinc and B Vitamins tend to experience less severe hangovers. Zinc decreases inflammation, speeds up our bodies’ healing process, and helps treat symptoms of dehydration like diarrhea. B vitamins invigorate our nervous systems and they help move our metabolism the next day. So pop a few vitamins in the morning, and give your body the nutrient boost it desperately needs.
Try out these six steps and see how easily you crush that hangover. Soon, you’ll be back on your feet and ready to make healthy choices with a clear head. Next time you’re planning on enjoying a few cocktails, keep this list in mind so you wake up the next morning refreshed and rehydrated.
We’re not done discussing hydration—next week, we’ll keep diving into this critical component of your health and weight loss journey. Join us then, and in the meantime, sign up for my insiders’ weekly newsletter for my top health and nutrition tips.
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