No matter how much fun you had last night, a bad hangover the next morning is never worth it.
Luckily, there are some preventative measures you can take while drinking that will help you avoid feeling like death for most of the next day.
We chatted with Dr. Ralph Holsworth, a osteopathic family medicine physician and director of clinical and scientific research for Essentia Water, for some tips that will ensure you stay hangover-free.
Make sure you’re hydrated before you start drinking.
According to Dr. Holsworth, about 70% of the population is dehydrated at a subclinical level, meaning symptoms aren’t yet severe, but it’s still dehydration.
When you drink, you become (further) dehydrated from both the alcohol itself and the chemicals your body produces as it tries to break down the alcohol you’ve consumed.
So if you begin a night of drinking already dehydrated, you’re going to end up majorly dehydrated by the end of the night, which will only worsen your hangover the next day. To prevent this from happening, make sure to drink plenty of water before moving on to alcohol. Dr. Holsworth says your urine color is a good indicator of dehydration; you want it to be as clear as possible.
Continue drinking water while you’re drinking alcohol.
Dr. Holsworth says you should be matching the amount of alcohol you drink with an equivalent amount of water. For beer or wine, that’s easy. If you order a 16-ounce beer, make sure to drink 16 ounces of water before moving onto another beer. A glass of wine should be matched with an 8-ounce glass of water.
Things get a little trickier when it comes to consuming hard alcohol. Since a shot of liquor is much more concentrated than beer or wine, you’ll want to match that with an 8-ounce glass of water. That means if you make yourself a rum and coke with two shots of rum, that’s two glasses of water you’ll need to drink before making yourself another drink.
Dr. Holsworth says this helps to prevent a hangover in two ways. One, it keeps your body hydrated, and two, it will slow down the rate you’re consuming alcohol, which means you’ll probably end up drinking less in the long run.
Stay away from salt-heavy drinks.
Salt-rimmed margaritas may taste good, but they won’t help you avoid a hangover. According to Dr. Holsworth, sodium helps your body absorb alcohol more quickly. This is because the opening at the bottom of your stomach that leads into your small intestine — called a duodenal sphincter — becomes larger when you consume large amounts of sodium.
So if you’re hoping that bloody Mary you order at brunch on Sunday is going to cure the after-effects of your Saturday night, think again. You’re better off just sticking with water.