When you’re on the organizing committee of a week-long beer festival you can’t help but sample a few brews. Whether it’s a conference, party, beer festival or simply a night out with friends, here are four essential steps that help me avoid hangovers.
Pre-game: the morning of
Hangover avoidance should begin long before your first sip of alcohol. Remember, hangovers are a result of dehydration, so you need to make sure your body is fully hydrated before heading out.
First thing in the morning as soon as you wake up drink a big glass (750ml) of water with half a freshly-squeezed lemon. The water will help rehydrate your body from the past 8 hours, and the lemon will detox your liver while elevating Victim C levels – crucial in maintaining immune system health. Lemon water first thing in the morning has loads of amazing health benefits and is something I consume every morning. For a complete list of lemon-water benefits click here.
Continue sipping water throughout the day. Yes, you’ll have to pee frequently, but you’d be amazed how much water our bodies lose even just sitting on the couch. The easiest way to maintain adequate water intake is to get a good water bottle and carry it without you through the day.
Before heading out for the evening it’s important to get an extra boost of hydration to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol. To do this you need something rich with electrolytes; water simply doesn't cut it.
Electrolytes consist of sodium and potassium. Start your hydration routine 1-3 hours before your first alcoholic beverage. To do this, drink a Gatorade followed by a can of coconut water.
Sports drinks like Gatorade are higher in sugar but contain more sodium than coconut water. Coconut water, although not as high in sodium contains far more potassium. If you're not a fan of coconut water you can replace it with a food high in potassium like a banana, avocado or yogurt. Personally, I prefer coconut water because it's more natural with no added sugars.
Recently, I discovered a great electrolyte supplement by a company out of Seattle called Nuun. They come in little tabs that dissolve in your water and are primarily geared towards high-endurance athletes. Nevertheless, they work wonders! Find them at MEC or online. Cost is $8 for a tube of 10 tabs. Click here for more info on Nuun.
Here’s an electrolyte breakdown of the various products mentioned above:
My personal routine consists of a coconut water followed by a Nuun tab approximately 1 hour before my first drink. Try dissolving an orange flavored Nuun tab into a yellow Gatorade = delicious! Pair it with a banana to get additional potassium (1 large banana has roughly 500 mg’s of potassium).
Throughout the evening make sure you’re consuming plenty of water, preferably 250-500ml's between each alcoholic beverage. Most restaurants will leave a jug of water if you ask – order water with your first drink so it's always available on the table.
When the night's over don’t simply pass out and fall asleep – this is hangover suicide! Your pre-bed hydration routine is crucial to hangover avoidance.
Some people opt for greasy Chinese food or pizza following a night out. Personally, I find carb-loading late at night makes me feel like crap the next day, so I try to avoid it.
Before bed, consume 750ml’s of water with a Nuun tab as well as a coconut water and/or sports drink. If you fill your belly with liquid it’ll help eliminate any hunger cravings.
Take an Advil PM. The ibuprofen will help prevent headaches, and the diphenhydramine citrate (sleep aid) will keep you from waking up at 4 am as the alcohol wears off, giving you a full 8-hours of quality sleep.
The Next Day
Once again, start your day with 750ml’s of lemon water. You should be feeling pretty damn good, but if you indulged a bit more than usual things might be a bit foggy.
Eliminate any headaches or body pains with a regular Advil or Tylenol (whichever works better for you).
Next, rather than pancakes or a greasy breakfast that will sit in your stomach all day like a brick, opt for a smoothie high in protein, potassium and leafy greens. This will help replenish your sodium and potassium levels, and the protein will make you feel full.
If you need a jolt of caffeine, green tea or coffee is fine, but remember that caffeine dehydrates the body so be sure to maintain your water intake.
The most effective way to reset the body
While most people spend their hangover days on the couch eating greasy food and waiting for the fog to wear off, the absolute best thing you can do to reset your body and end the hangover blues is to work out.
Get some exercise, whether it’s a spin class, yoga, jog, or whatever activities you enjoy. 30-45 minutes of exercise is all it should take to sweat out the remaining toxins and reset the body. If you don’t believe me give it a try, the effects of exercise on hangover elimination will amaze you!