No story that starts out with, “I got way too drunk,” ever ends well. With the holidays approaching, it’s especially important to know how to handle your alcohol intake to prevent being inappropriately hammered around family and co-workers. Go ahead, enjoy yourself! But consider how you can prep before the festivities begin, what types of chasers to avoid throughout the night, and other best drinking practices to save face.
To help you maximize your fun without waking up hungover, we’ve spoken to Dr. Luiza Petre, a nutrition and weight-loss specialist and board-certified cardiologist. Ahead are helpful tips straight from Dr. Petre that you’ve probably never thought of – including specific types of foods you should be pregaming with.
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1. Line Your Stomach
According to Dr. Petre, you need to start prepping yourself a couple hours ahead of the party. Not only will eating whole foods prevent hangovers and help keep your energy up throughout the night, but it will also allow you to drink more and think clearly. If dinner isn’t part of the evening, Dr. Petre suggests consuming grilled chicken and broccoli (for potassium and magnesium) with quinoa (full of fiber), which “mitigates how quickly that fuzzy drunk feeling arrives by slowing the time it takes to empty your stomach,” Dr. Petre told POPSUGAR. This meal is rich in protein and the chicken takes a while to digest, slowing down your alcohol levels.
If you don’t have time for a full dinner, snack on eggs or avocado (or a mixture of both). “The eggs are full of essential amino acids needed to break down the alcohol, and the avocado is packed with healthy fats that digest slowly,” Dr. Petre said. Need to rush out the door? Dr. Petre advises you grab an unsweetened Greek yogurt (dairy coats stomach lining) and add one teaspoon of baker’s yeast.
“Yeast has enzymes (ADH alcohol dehydrogenases) that break down alcohol the same as your liver,” she said. “While even your liver cells cannot produce an adequate supply of ADH to stop you from getting drunk when overdoing it, if you consume yeast before you indulge, the enzymes will be able to minimize the alcohol before it gets to your blood stream. This prevents you from getting as inebriated as you would without the additional ADH.”
Though this won’t prevent you from getting drunk, it has been proven to decrease your blood alcohol content by 20 to 30 percent, according to Dr. Petre.
2. Pace Yourself
Try to resist joining in on round after round. Remember: drinking is a marathon, not a race!
“The time it takes your liver to metabolize and remove the alcohol from your system is approximately one drink per hour to an hour and a half,” Dr. Petre said. “By sticking to this schedule, you would be able to stay fully cognizant.”
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3. Stay Away From Sugary Chasers
Be mindful about what kinds of mixers you’re choosing. “Combining alcohol with low-calorie mixers gets into your bloodstream as fast as drinking a shot,” Dr. Petre told us. “You will get drunk faster with a diet coke versus regular coke as the sugar slows the absorption into the bloodstream.”
She continued to explain how the biggest issue with drinking sugary chasers is that you tend to drink more because it masks the taste of alcohol. The spike in your blood sugar will also cause that drunken feeling. Instead, opt for freshly squeezed juices like lemon “to alkalize the acidic effect of alcohol,” Dr. Petre said, or cucumber or ginger juice to help detox the liver and increase metabolism. Another pro tip: dilute your beverage by adding sparkling water to wine, or a couple ounces of water (or ice) to vodka, gin, or light beer.
4. Stay Hydrated
Don’t wait until your body signals that you’re dehydrated to start downing glasses of H2O. “Everyone has heard that drinking a glass of room temperature water in between drinks will not only keep you hydrated and sober, but will keep away the dreaded hangover,” Dr. Petre said. “Alcohol is a diuretic, so drink more water to compensate even if not thirsty.”
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5. Take a Five Outside
Being drunk in a hot room surrounded by people will only make things worse. Not only will you get drunk more quickly and feel drunker, but the warmth in addition to alcohol raising your blood pressure, can cause dehydration.
“This combo will exacerbate that drunken feeling, so grab some water and take a five-minute break out in the cold.”
While these are a few things you can do during the party, other factors, including your age and health, also come into play. If you’ve ever needed another reason to stay in shape, consider hitting the gym to combat immediate drunk effects.
“A body that is leaner with more muscle mass has more water which dilutes alcohol,” Dr. Petre said. “The more fat you have, the quicker you will get drunk.”
And if you’re feeling more and more that your body just can’t handle nights like these anymore, you’re probably right. The older we get, the slower our bodies eliminate alcohol, which means we get drunk faster and stay drunk longer – so take it easy and drink responsibly.