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How to prevent or reduce a hangover: 6 best strategies

How to prevent or reduce a hangover

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Outlines how to prevent or reduce a hangover with simple strategies to make sure you wake up feeling much better than you expected!

A hangover – humanity’s greatest foe. Okay, that’s a little exaggerated, but we can all agree nobody likes hangovers. Stopping a hangover from happening is just like learning how to play poker– there are many rules to follow and many approaches to take. If you follow our how to guide to reducing a hangover, you should wake up in the morning feeling much better than if you did nothing at all. 

6 best strategies to prevent or reduce a hangover

Disclaimer: There is no perfect proven scientific method to completely prevent a hangover, only tips and tricks to help reduce the effects of alcohol the next day. 

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A Glass of Water with Every Drink

The simplest trick to help manage your hangover the next day is to down 8oz (roughly 250ml) of water with each drink. The body requires a lot of water to process alcohol, and if you do not consume enough water, it starts to take water from our area of the body, including the brain. When the body takes water from the brain for other purposes, one of the side effects is headaches. 

Do Not Drink on An Empty Stomach 

Drinking on an empty stomach is a big mistake. Food in your stomach helps slow the absorption rate of alcohol – allowing for more time for your liver to process it instead of it going directly into the bloodstream. 

Eating while drinking is also beneficial as it often slows down your drinking rate. 

Vitamins Before you Start and When You Stop

There are certain vitamins and minerals that deplete when you are drinking alcohol. Some of these vitamins and minerals are depleted to help your liver process alcohol, while others you expel more frequently than normal due to increased urination.

The most common vitamin people take before they start drinking and after they finish is vitamin B-12 or a B-complex. B-vitamins play an essential role in the breakdown of alcohol – as well as other things such as energy production. If you are low on B-vitamins the morning after drinking, you are likely to feel more sluggish. Other important vitamins and minerals to focus on before and after drinking including vitamin-A, Zinc, potassium, and other water-soluble vitamins

HOWEVER: do not take a B vitamin just before you go to bed if you are very drunk. Many people find that this adversely affects them, and causes them to vomit.

Avoid Darker Alcohols and Sugar 

A glass of whiskey versus a glass of vodka will not make a difference – but an entire night of whiskey (or any darker alcohols) versus a number of lighter alcohols will. Darker liquors contain a substance called congeners – which is made up of several chemicals that the body does not enjoy processing.

Darker alcohols also tend to have a higher sugar content – which can cause more intense headaches in the morning. If you plan a day or night of extended drinking, it is much better to have white/clear alcohol over anything dark. Mixing any alcohol with sugar drinks will also exacerbate your hungover the next day. 

Know Your Body and Mind 

Ask yourself the following question: What is your favourite thing to drink? Whatever it is, you likely should cut back on it.

Say you love red wine over white wine or white rum or gin. Whatever your preference is, you are more likely to consume more due to a concept called utility. Utility is essentially the perceived benefit you gain for a unit consumed. You may have a high utility for a longer time with something you love drinking than something you are only okay with. If your utility remains high after a half-dozen drinks, your drinking rate is unlikely to change – meaning you will consume more alcohol than if you drink something else. 

The concept also works for food. If you love pizza over chicken wings, you will likely consume a higher weight/caloric value of pizza before against the amount of chicken wings you would eat. 

One tip for this is to start your night with something you like and move on to something you are less fond of to slow down consumption.

Stop Drinking for a Few Hours Before You Do to Bed

If you go straight to bed after drinking, your body will spend all night breaking down the alcohol. When your body is busy functioning when you are sleeping, you will wake up feeling more tired than if you gave yourself a window after drinking and before bed.

The time between also allows you to take other steps – drinking more water, having some food, taking supplements – to help you combat the looming hangover.