We all enjoy a tipple or two, but the next-day hangover is enough to make us swear off alcohol forever.
Choose colorless cocktails. Not all alcohol is created equal, especially when it comes to what kind of a hangover wallop it packs. “Brown alcohol contains something called ‘congeners,’ which are somewhat toxic and difficult for your body to metabolize,” says Cheryl Forberg, R.D., the original nutritionist for The Biggest Loser. Because of these substances, which are created during the fermentation process, dark colored beverages such as tequila, brandy and bourbon seem to contribute to hangovers more than clear alcohol such as gin, vodka or white wine.
Pick your poison. It’s a no-brainer: The more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to have a hangover so choosing your cocktail carefully is key. “Beer has less alcohol than wine which has less alcohol than vodka,” explains Susan Blum, M.D., assistant clinical professor of preventative medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and founder of The Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, N.Y. Find out the alcohol content of any drink at RethinkingDrinking.com.
Go gluten free. “People who are sensitive to gluten will feel worse the next day if they drink beer made from barley or other alcohol fermented from wheat or rye,” says Dr. Blum. If this is you, opt for potato vodka or tequila, which is made from agave. “Also, people sensitive to mold or with mold allergies might feel worse from drinking red wine, because there are lots of mold proteins in the sediment,” adds Blum.
Forget the fizzy stuff. A small study out of University of Surrey in the U.K. compared the effects of flat and fizzy champagne on the same group of people. Results revealed that participants had higher levels of alcohol in their blood after drinking the fizzy champagne than they did when sipping the flat version of the cocktail. Researchers suspect that carbon dioxide (which is what causes the bubbles) may accelerate the body’s absorption of alcohol.
Don’t sip on an empty stomach. If you plan to toast to the holiday season with some cocktails, don’t forget to eat both before and while you drink. “In addition to the fact that food in your bloodstream helps ‘dilute’ the alcohol, it also slows down the metabolism of alcohol and its release into the bloodstream,” explains Forberg.
Have your drinks on the rocks. “Ice waters down your drink, which will help you pace yourself,” says Blum. “This extra water will also help your blood flow through your liver and kidneys and help your body flush out and process the alcohol.” Throughout the night, you should also down a glass of H20 between each alcoholic drink.