Summer's not over yet, and there's still plenty of time to get in a fun night out. Before you order that pitcher of margaritas or line up those tequila shots, there are a few things you need to do to ensure you actually make it to work tomorrow (and can function on a relatively human level.) That's right, it's all fun and games until you wake up the next day dehydrated and cranky, wishing you had opted out of that last cerveza (or four.)
So, we spoke to nutrition and wellness experts to get six tips to help you prevent a nasty hangover from the get-go. The really good news: they all involve food and drinks (no, not that kind—yet!) Pre-game the smart way with these strategies. But if things get really out of hand, even these preparations won't save you—so follow these steps to speed up your recovery the next day.
Recent research from Australia's CSIRO revealed that 200 mL of Asian pear juice can reduce the side effects of drinking by up to 20%. Having pear before you drink can speed up your body's ability to flush it out later, and may also inhibit alcohol getting into your bloodstream in the first place.
"Believe it or not, there are effects that pears may have on the amount of blood alcohol after an alcoholic drink," lead researcher Professor Manny Noakes told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The study also found that pears can also lower cholesterol and reduce constipation and inflammation.
You can find pear juice in specialty stores, but you'll likely do just as well with the fruit itself.
1. Green Juice
Downing a green juice before you drink will do wonders for your body. Alcohol dehydrates you and robs your body of electrolytes and nutrients. But sipping fresh juice will flood your body with vitamins and minerals, boosting your defenses when you switch over to alcohol. “If you don’t feel like having a green juice after you drink, get that nutrition in beforehand," says Kerry Bajaj, a certified health coach at Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. "Fit in as many greens, like spinach, kale, bok choy, celery and cucumber, as you can. To sweeten it, try apple, lemon or ginger.”
“Always drink on a full stomach. Eat a [balanced] meal with some low-glycemic carbs, like sweet potato or brown rice,” says Kerry Bajaj, a certified health coach at Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. Taking the time to cook a hearty meal before you go out will keep your blood sugar stable and give you lasting energy. Aim to keep your serving of sweet potatoes to the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.
Lean protein, like chicken breast, is another part of a balanced, pre-party meal. When combined with low glycemic-carbs, protein helps keep your blood sugar steady. When your blood sugar drops, “you have spikes and crashes, and you lose energy, feel jittery, and can get really shaky, especially when you're drinking alcohol,” explains Bajaj.
This one's a no-brainer. Alcohol is incredibly dehydrating, which causes those morning-after shakes and headaches. Ideally, you should be consistently drinking water while you're boozing—but that's easier said than done. “At the end of the night before you go to bed, you can get distracted and forget to," notes Bajaj. "When it’s earlier in the night and you haven’t started drinking yet, that’s a good time to drink water."
Cucumbers are made up of 95% water, so munching on a few slices before you go out will not only hydrate you, but also help flush out any toxins lingering in your body. Cucumbers also contain small amounts of sugar, B vitamins, and electrolytes, which could help prevent or lessen the intensity of your headache the next day. In addition to cucumbers, watermelon is another hydrating snack choice, add Bajaj.
“Certain supplements can also be helpful," says Bajaj. "An herb called milk thistle supports the liver, so taking it before your drink can help your body process alcohol better." The longer it takes for the toxins from the alcohol to exit your body, the longer your hangover symptoms will last. By supplementing with milk thistle, especially before you drink, you're prepping your body to expedite this process.