sk any expert, and they’ll tell you that the best way to avoid a hangover is to lay off the booze, mostly because there’s no hard-and-fast, research-backed remedy.
But the truth is that sometimes, even experts who know better drink just as much as you do. To fend off the nausea, headache, dizziness, and general misery that often follows an intense night of drinking, try the tricks experts use to mitigate the damage:
Before You Drink:
1. Double up on multivitamins. “A big misconception is that hangovers are entirely about dehydration. But the main issues are inflammation and oxidative stress. And it’s much easier to prevent a hangover than it is to deal with it the next morning,” says Jason Burke, M.D., an anesthesiologist who has treated over 20,000 hangovers. He is also the creator of Hangover Heaven, a mobile medical clinic based in Las Vegas that delivers onsite IV treatments for hangover sufferers. According to Dr. Burke, antioxidants help mitigate the damage, so pop an extra multivitamin, or drink acai or pomegranate juice before you go out.
2. Order a burger instead of a salad. Of course you don’t want to look or feel bloated at a bar on a Saturday night. But the severity of a hangover isn’t just related to how much you drink, but how you metabolize alcohol—and that depends a lot on what you eat, says Elizabeth Kovacs, Ph.D., director of the Alcohol Research program at Loyola University. Her suggestion: Make sure you eat a meal containing carbs, protein, and fat before you take your first sip of alcohol.
Dr. Burke makes sure that meal contains red meat, which has an especially high concentration of amino acids and B vitamins that help process the nasty byproducts of alcohol.
3. Rest up. This might sound pretty obvious, but most people don’t get nearly enough sleep, Kovacs says. While sleep won’t save you from a hangover, it will improve your immunity and get your body ready to handle a night of heavy drinking—which is better than not being ready, she adds.
While You Drink:
4. Skip champagne. Studies suggest the bubbles in champagne may accelerate the absorption of alcohol, so you get drunker faster. The problem is that this produces especially bad hangovers, Dr. Burke says.
5. Make your roadie a Gatorade. You’ve probably heard that it’s smart to chug water between cocktails to fend off dehydration (and the resulting headache) caused by alcohol. But coconut water or a sports drinks like Gatorade work even better: They replace your fluids and electrolytes, the nutrients you lose when you drink, according to Kovacs. Whenever you drink more than two drinks at a time, alternate between booze and a sports drink (or sip the later throughout the night), and you’ll be good to go.
6. Skip the smokes. When 113 college students documented their alcohol intake, smoking habits, and hangover symptoms every day for eight weeks, researchers found that when students drank heavily, smoking significantly increased the risk and severity of a hangover, according to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
7. Stick with clear liquor. Vodka and gin have fewer toxins and impurities than dark ones like whisky and rum, says Kovacs.
8. Choose juice over soda mixers. “OJ won’t help you avoid a hangover—unless you drink it instead of a fourteenth beer,” Kovacs says. But because fruit and vegetable juices contain extra vitamins, they’re always better for you than soda.
9. Wash your hands super well. Drinking alcohol changes the way your immune system works, so if you’re exposed to something like the flu when you’re out and about, you’re more likely to become infected, have a more severe reaction, and take longer to recover, Kovacs says. And if there’s one thing that makes a hangover worse, it’s flu symptoms like fever, muscles aches, and chills.
10. Dance your ass off. It’s hard AF to hold a drink while you’re breaking it down, so dancing (or playing a game like pool or ping pong, assuming it involves paddles as opposed to cups of beer) can stop you from the destructive cycle of emptying your glass and immediately refilling it. Just be sure to stash a cup of water on the edge of the dance floor to rehydrate, particularly if you start to break a sweat.