How to Prevent a Hangover for a Smooth Morning-After

Hangovers result from drinking more alcohol than your liver cells can handle. Therefore, the simplest way to prevent a hangover is to avoid getting one in the first place.

Many factors affect how bad a hangover feels, such as the amount of alcohol you drink, the type of alcohol consumed, the amount of sleep you get afterward, and how much food or water you have while drinking.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any proven scientific treatments for hangovers, but certain antioxidants help to prevent them

Let’s take a look at several hangover symptoms and the preventative techniques you can start using today.

Most Common Hangover Symptoms

man showing hangover symptoms
(Image Source: Unsplash)

After the alcohol has left your system, these are the most common symptoms you can expect:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Reduced appetite
  • Excessive sensitivity to light and sound

These symptoms come from the way your body processes alcohol. In contrast to other foods and beverages, a portion of the alcohol you consume bypasses your stomach lining and goes straight into your bloodstream.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the remainder of the alcohol travels through your small intestine to your liver, where enzymes break it down. [1]

With that in mind, let’s look at ways to avoid hangover symptoms.

Before You Drink Alcohol

Eat A Healthy Meal Before You Start Drinking

<alt tag: drinking slowly and eating food helps before consuming alcohol>
(Image Source: Pixabay)

It’s crucial you eat before you start drinking. Food may lessen the effects of hangovers and help keep your blood alcohol level lower.

According to Robert Swift, MD, and Associate Director of the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies:

“When you consume alcohol on an empty stomach, the alcohol just flows through your intestines and is swiftly absorbed into the bloodstream.” [2

In other words, if you drink on an empty stomach, you get intoxicated quicker and feel much worse the following day. This is because the alcohol goes through your intestines and is absorbed into your blood without being broken down.

Choose Fatty Foods

Doctors say that all foods, particularly fatty ones, slow your body’s absorption of alcohol. Delaying the absorption of alcohol is a smart way to prevent a hangover.

Avocados are a simple food to eat before heading out and are rich in healthy fats. Some other fatty food examples are:

  • Milk
  • Beef
  • Pork 
  • Lamb
  • Cheese
  • Red meats

Choose High-Fiber Foods

Chris Meletis, Chief Medical Officer and Dean of Naturopathic Medicine, notes that high-fiber foods, such as Brussels sprouts, lentils, and popcorn, break down and absorb alcohol, slowing down its absorption into your bloodstream. [3]

Other high-fiber foods you can choose include:

  • Pears
  • Pasta
  • Berries
  • Chickpeas

Go to the Gym

According to Leon Coleman, MD, Research Assistant and Professor at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, one of the leading causes of hangovers is that we try to let off steam but go too far and drink too much. [4]

Coleman advises finding a good way to decompress before going out aside from drinking, such as exercising at the gym. This gets rid of the work hard/play hard mentality when it’s time to let off some steam.

However, according to registered dietitian and founder of Street Smart Nutrition, Cara Harbstreet, it’s also important to understand that one doesn’t have to depend entirely on exercise to make up for anything they’re going to consume. She says to do something that’s fun, refreshing,and helpful. For example, you could meditate, or take a nap. [5]

While You’re Drinking Alcohol

Avoid Congener-Rich Alcoholic Drinks

drink on the table
(Image Source: Unsplash)

Avoid excessive drinking of congener-rich alcohol.

Congeners give alcohol its taste and color. They can be found in all types of alcohol; however, they tend to be more prevalent in dark alcohols like red wine and whiskey.

These toxic chemicals are impurities and may cause an inflammatory reaction that contributes to the development of hangover symptoms. [6]

While drinking, it’s best to go for clear liquors. The table below shows drinks with high levels of congeners alongside drinks with lower levels.

Drinks high in congenersDrinks with fewer congeners
Whiskey (particularly bourbon)Vodka

Researchers found that congeners impacted the intensity of hangovers, with participants experiencing worse symptoms after consuming bourbon than vodka. [7]

Did you know? Although congeners are present at various levels, ethanol is the primary active element in alcoholic beverages.

Fact: Congeners are also created when sugar-fermenting yeasts make ethanol. 

Methanol, isopentanol, and acetone are just a few of the dangerous substances known as congeners.

Alcoholic beverages with high congener content appear to give you a worse hangover. Studies suggest the prevalent congener methanol has a substantial correlation with hangover symptoms. [8]

You can watch this YouTube video to learn more about congeners:

Drink Plenty of Fluids

As a diuretic, alcohol causes frequent urination, resulting in dehydration.

Even though it’s not generally thought to be a major cause of hangovers, dehydration may contribute to symptoms including thirst, headache, weariness, and a dry mouth.

While out drinking, consuming plenty of non-alcoholic fluids is a great way to rehydrate yourself.

According to Elizabeth Kovacs, Ph.D., Director of the Alcohol Research Program at Loyola University Chicago, drinking coconut water or a sports drink in between drinks helps replenish your fluids and electrolytes. These are the nutrients you lose when you consume alcoholic beverages. [9]

She advises drinking Gatorade or coconut water throughout the night to avoid a throbbing headache.

According to another study, drinking green tea, honey chrysanthemum tea, or soda water can increase alcohol metabolism and also guard against alcohol-related liver cell damage. [10]

The same study states that combining alcohol with drinks like fresh orange juice or energy drinks like Red Bull may induce liver damage, so you should avoid doing these drinks.

A good tip is to drink a glass of water or some other non-alcoholic beverage (such as Gatorade) in between drinks and drink at least one big glass of water before going to sleep.

After You Drink Alcohol

Bedtime Snacks to Go For

Before getting some well-deserved rest, watch what you eat.

Harbstreet (cited above) suggests that it’s wise to avoid the types of food that may cause stomach problems. She also recommends avoiding food that may cause Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like heartburn or acid reflux.

Such foods include: 

  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Citrus fruits

Some people experience GI symptoms from drinking alcohol alone. Therefore, steer clear of the food mentioned above if you think it could worsen your health conditions.

Instead, choose hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables. These have high water content. 

Also, choose foods rich in antioxidants, like juice and smoothies.

These, according to Harbstreet, can sit more comfortably in your stomach without further disturbing your slumber.

If you suffer from Gastrointestinal symptoms, consider taking GI supplements to alleviate your pain. However, if symptoms persist, speak to your medical practitioner. 

Get Enough Sleep

Alcohol consumption can make it difficult to sleep.

If you stay up too late, it can affect the length and quality of your sleep and throw off your overall sleeping routine.

According to a study published in Current Drug Abuse Reviews, sleep deprivation might worsen your hangover because you’ll be suffering from the weariness and irritation that are frequently associated with sleep deprivation — even though it won’t induce most of the symptoms of a hangover. [11]

Research published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that alcohol affects the second stage of sleep, which, if you stay up late, happens after the sun rises. [12]

While the quality of your sleep after an exciting night out is out of your control, you can lessen environmental disturbances by wearing a sleep mask that blocks light.

In short, after heavy drinking, your body can recover by getting lots of rest. So it might not be wise to get drunk if you can’t sleep in and take it easy the next day.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Having low blood sugar levels may make a hangover worse. Eating a good breakfast can help maintain blood sugar levels and provide your body with the right combination of vitamins and minerals to function better.

One example of a good breakfast after drinking is dry toast and oyster crackers. These provide sugar, fight nausea, and aid in the absorption of any alcohol still present in your stomach.

Another amazing hangover remedy is whole grains, as the complex carbohydrates in them restore some of the B vitamins that are depleted when you drink. These aid in absorbing excess alcohol in your stomach.

Fact: N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is an abundant antioxidant in foods such as eggs that aids alcohol metabolism.

However, if you don’t like eggs, aren’t someone who wants a big breakfast after drinking, or want that extra boost, you can order NAC supplements from our website.

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Likewise, spinach is a good source of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which aids your body’s ability to process alcohol.

Spreading a tablespoon or two of antioxidant- and fructose-rich honey on your morning toast is another effective technique to help with low blood sugar.

And lastly, drink herbal teas with your breakfast, as they are an excellent way to alleviate hangover symptoms.

Go to the Gym, Again

Many individuals recommend a good sweat to get rid of the hangover fog. So, hit the gym if you’re up for it. Mild to moderate exercise helps your body remove toxins by boosting circulation and metabolism.

However, pay attention to your body. If you’re barely able to move due to a hangover—pushing yourself to work out isn’t a good idea.

Instead, you should stay in bed, get some rest, or try out NAC supplements.

For more healthy living advice, check out Simply Nutrient’s blog or explore our store page today. 















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Medically reviewed by Dr. Jamy Antoine, D.C. — by Chris Bowman — On October 26, 2022


Chris Bowman

Chris Bowman is the CEO and Co-Founder of and has over 15 years of experience in nutritional sciences and wellness. Simply Nutrients is a part of Dr. Jamy Antoine's Select Health Practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is passionate about helping people live healthier lives by using the best practices of nature, nutrition, and medicine.