Almost everybody loves to have a drink, but everybody hates the way they feel the morning after. With each passing year, a beer or a cocktail’s effects can wreak greater havoc on your body. If you continue those same collegiate habits well into adulthood, there could be serious short and long-term consequences.
The good news is that there are simple things you can do to lessen the heavy toll of the devil’s sauce. A night of drinking here and there doesn’t have to mess up your fitness routine, balanced diet or mental health — there are ways to minimize the impact of booze on your bod and brain.
Although not a single doctor around the world will recommend heavy drinking (rightly so, obviously), there are a number of simple ways that you can fight back against the effects of alcohol. Bear these in mind before your next big booze-up.
Remember That Not All Drinks Are Created Equal
It might make you feel a bit weird to drink a vodka soda instead of your usual, but there is a reason that people often opt for one of the most boring drinks on the planet. Lighter-colored alcoholic drinks have fewer congeners, the byproducts of alcohol. Darker drinks tend to pack more calories and cause more severe hangovers.
It won’t surprise you to hear that cheap booze also means you’re likely drinking a less pure product. If you must drink your favorite dark-colored alcohol, do so with mixers, or use water with a mixer, and make sure it is something closer to the top shelf. Another reason not to drink cheap is that you’ll be less tempted to mask the taste with a hearty pour of sugary soda.
Liquor generally has fewer calories than beer or wine, but a mixer can change all of that. If you use a mixer, the less sugar it has the better. You may even just want to cut your liquor with a little water and a lime to minimize sugar intake without completely sacrificing taste. That being said, many experts stress that you should also drink something you enjoy, as you’ll be more likely to savor what you’re drinking instead of trying to make up for a lack of quality with more quantity.
Fight the Late Night Snack Urge
Alcohol impairs your judgement. Everyone knows that. This is why even a rigorous dieter can find their way into a pizza shop or a McDonald’s with ease after a night of drinking. Do whatever you have to do to fight that urge. Drinking any alcohol means taking in calories with no nutrients. Don’t compound that by taking in more empty calories on your walk home from the bar.
Believe it or not, one way to stave off the urge to grab a Big Mac on the way home is to eat while you drink. That may sound counterintuitive, but if you drink on an empty stomach, your blood sugar levels will skyrocket and your metabolism will slow. As a result, you might be hungry as hell when you leave the bar.
Eating a balanced dinner or healthy snack can reduce the likelihood that you will commit grave culinary sins later in the evening. Essentially, you’re keeping your body somewhat on track by eating something decent while you drink so that you won’t do serious damage to your body once you start feeling alcohol’s physical effects, combined with the impaired judgment that comes with a few brewskis.
Super Foods to the Rescue
There are a few key foods that can help your body deal with booze a little bit better. Eating tuna before drinking can boost Vitamin D levels (which also gives you a testosterone lift), while avocado is a great source of fiber and assists in processing the alcohol.
The morning after, nuts can help rejuvenate your look by replenishing your body with omega-3 fatty acids, and bananas can replenish your levels of potassium, which can perk you up if you’re feeling lethargic. If you know you’re in for a big night, think of these foods as a hangover first-aid kit and stock up before your night out.
Get Some Sleep
If you come right home after a night at the bar and pass out, you might think you’re in for a good night’s sleep. Think again. When you drink large quantities and/or you go to sleep right after drinking, you likely won’t fully metabolize the alcohol before you go to bed. This disrupts your sleep patterns and means that even after sleeping twelve hours, you’ll still wake up drowsy.
The reality is that there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep. No matter how much coffee you drink, no matter how many Advils you pop, you aren’t going to fully come back from a night of drinking until you allow your body to sleep it off.
Alcohol is a diuretic. Simply put, it makes you pee alot. In fact, booze is such a potent diuretic that it can leave you dehydrated days after you drink. So many experts recommend drinking more water before, during, and after drinking because dehydration isn’t just about thirst. It can change your mood, dull your mental processes, and make you physically weaker.
Yes, you should still be drinking water the next morning. Orange juice is another good choice for the morning after since it is packed with Vitamin C. And though it might kill you to skip your morning cup of joe, bear in mind that coffee will further dehydrate you.
Work It Out
Maintaining an exercise routine can help stave off the adverse effects of booze. Sticking to the routine after a bender is essential, no matter how hard it may be. Scientists have found that a consistent fitness regimen can reduce both short and long-term effects from alcohol consumption.
How much does working out help? One group of scientists found that working out completely wipes out the increased cancer risk associated with drinking. In the short term, working out can function like an antidepressant, releasing a surge of endorphins and adrenaline, counteracting the “downer” effects of booze.
Take a Break
If you’ve moved past the stage in life where you’re doing frat house keg stands on a regular basis, you might not just want to think about how much you drink, but how often you drink. Birthday parties, job celebrations, and the like may warrant a big night out, but do you have to go drinking every weekend?
If you take just a week or two off between big drinking nights, your body will thank you for it. When a team of scientists quit drinking for a month, they saw a five percent reduction in cholesterol and a fifteen percent reduction in liver fat. There can also be psychological benefits to taking a step back from the bar. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can go a month without the sauce while remaining the same guy, you will likely have more willpower to turn down that “one last round” if you know you’ve already hit your limit.
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- Main & Featured Image: Thomas Welch / Highsnobiety
- Words: Brenden Gallagher