How to Prevent a Hangover (& Fat-Burning Detox Shake Recipe)
‘Tis the season . . . for the hangover. Though I feel most people use the “It’s the holidays!” excuse to scarf shortbread, swap cookies (“I’ll trade you four dozen rum balls for rugelach”), spike everything with Bailey’s, and take a month-long hiatus from any exercise that doesn’t involve trolling the liquor store for more Cabernet, chances are good this free-for-all, “holidays are but once a year” attitude ain’t gonna change anytime soon. I mean, Jesus would want us to celebrate his birth
with chocolate martinis, right?
So to keep feeling festive through January 1, use these preemptive strategies during the holidays (and throughout the year). And if—despite your best intentions, of course—you overimbibe, I’ve included some “morning after” remedies. Hey, it’s the holidays!
Meg’s No-Hangover Tips
Before the Party:
- Eat a nutritious meal or snack containing lean protein and healthy fats (e.g., turkey and hummus wrap; Greek yogurt with chopped apple, cinnamon and almonds; my Skinny Egg Muffin or Detox Shake) before imbibing will help you metabolize alcohol more slowly; fat- and oil-containing foods (e.g., nuts, nut butter, flaxseed, avocado, olive oil) also buffer the stomach lining, helping to prevent intestinal irritation and nausea. (Bonus: A preparty snack will help thwart a buffet binge.)
- Drink . . . water. Or eat water-rich fruits or veggies, such as apples, oranges, cucumber and celery. A hangover is primarily caused by dehydration, thanks to the ethanol in alcohol which increases urine output (layman’s terms: makes you pee). Keeping hydrated will offset most of alcohol’s inevitable aftereffects (cue dry mouth, fatigue and a POUNDING headache . . . ).
Party Trivia: The ethanol in alcohol breaks down in the body to acetaldehyde, a potent carcinogen more toxic than alcohol itself. Congeners, toxic byproducts of alcohol fermentation, can also affect the severity of a hangover. Red wine (especially cheaper plonk) and dark liquors (e.g., bourbon, scotch, whiskey, tequila) have more congeners than white wine and clear spirits (e.g., vodka, gin, white rum).
At the Party:
- Pace yourself and—wait for it—don’t drink to excess. Remember, the key to avoiding a hangover (aside from not drinking!) is to stay hydrated, so alternate an alcoholic drink with a large glass of flat or sparkling water.
- Nibble wisely: for every drink, nosh a few nuts, a couple of cheese cubes or a smoked salmon crudite to moderate alcohol absorption.
- Keep it clean. That is, mix spirits with club soda or sparkling water only; not only are juices, pop, punches and drink mixes laden with sugar and calories, but many contain artificial preservatives, sweeteners and other additives, which can cause or exacerbate headaches, nausea and allergies.
More Trivia: Many alcohols, including wine and beer, contain preservatives such as sulphites, which Health Canada ranks as one of the nine allergens most likely to cause a severe reaction. So if you’re sensitive to sulphites in foods, you’ll likely react to sulphite-containing alcohols, notably red wine.
After the Party:
OK, so you didn’t take my advice, and twinkling tree lights now resemble a spinning disco ball. Seek relief (and relieve your liver) with these hangover remedies:
- Rehydrate with water first thing. (Sorry, the “hair of the dog” “cure” is anything but!) Skipping coffee will probably exacerbate a throbbing head, so drink an extra glass of water to counter caffeine’s diuretic effects.
- Pass on greasy breakfast fare, but make it sunny-side up: eggs are full of cysteine, a protein that binds to and removes hangover-inducing acetaldehyde from the body. Or sip my detox shake, which contains whey (also high in cysteine) and mineral electrolytes.
- Get out for a walk and fresh air; exercise and oxygen raise the body’s metabolic rate, which will assist the liver in eliminating alcohol’s toxic metabolites. Sweating in a sauna or hot shower or bath will also speed detoxification.
Hangover No-No: Don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a hangover; the combination (alcohol + acetaminophen) can cause liver damage.
Drink Responsibly: Alcohol can be addictive, and it may raise the risk of some cancers; the maximum recommended intake is one to two drinks per day. (A standard serving is five ounces of table wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1½ ounces of spirits.)
Megan’s Detox/Fat-Burning Shake
This delicious shake is full of alcohol-depleting mineral electrolytes, including calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also contains vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, and metabolism-boosting B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and vitamin B1 (thiamine), which may reduce brain accumulation of glutarate, a compound linked to headaches. Bonus: Studies find whey protein is a proven fat burner.
- 1 cup filtered water
- ½ cup frozen peaches or strawberries (can also sub ½ cup ice)
- 1½ scoops vanilla whey concentrate powder (I used 1 scoop IsaLean Shake and ½ scoop Isapro)
- ½ tsp orange-flavoured powdered vitamin C/electrolyte powder (I like Energenix by Isagenix)
Directions: Add ingredients to blender in order listed. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately. Serves 1.