Don't mix your liquors, drink whiskey before beer, have a glass of water between drinks—you know the drill. But knowing more than the conventional wisdom when it comes to potent potations can mean the difference between looking like your bar's resident heavyweight and going home early to fight a hellacious hangover.
Here, five surprising science-backed ways to help you hold your liquor better.
Ditch the Diet Mixers
Mix your booze with diet versus regular soda and your blood alcohol content will shoot up an extra 18 percent, according to a new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. What gives? Without sugar and calories in your glass (and stomach), alcohol beelines its way into your bloodstream. We aren't condoning any fructose-filled beverages here, but a few calories can go a long way toward keeping you off of the karaoke stage.
Even "non-smokers" have a hard time resisting a post-drink smoke, but according to research from Brown University, combining the two vices ups your chances of losing your next day to a hangover. Researchers believe nicotine may increase your body's release of cytokines, a protein secreted when your brain encounters an injury. The result: an inflamed brain, throbbing head, and spinning ceiling.
Don't Drink Dark
Quick chemistry lesson: Alcohol fermentation and distillation often results in the creation of toxins called congeners, says James M. Schaefer, Ph.D., an alcohol metabolism expert and research professor of anthropology at Union College. Their concentration is high not only in cheap booze (which you can blame for your rough college days), but also in dark liquors like bourbon, brandy, whiskey, and some tequilas. In one study, 33 percent of subjects who drank bourbon had hangovers, while only 3 percent of those drank the same amount of vodka woke up with the spins.
Take Your Vitamins
Metabolizing alcohol requires nutrients. The more you drink, the more nutrients your body has to call up from the blood stream to replenish your liver's tapped resources, according to the Boulder Medical Center. What's more, alcohol just plain destroys B vitamins. As a result, body cells are deprived of critical nutrients. Enter, hangover. "The after effects are slightly ameliorated by replenishing a vitamin balance to the system," Schaefer says. If you decide to pop any pills, he advises B complex, B6, or B12.
Forget the Fizz
Sure, you look slick sipping a scotch and soda, but carbonation pushes gas—and the accompanying alcohol—past your stomach and into your intestines, according to Schaefer. The upper small intestine, the next stop from your stomach, is ridiculously absorptive. What's more, fizz shunts any malicious congeners right up into the intestines with them. The result: a faster, stronger buzz and the potential for one nasty hangover.
—K. Aleisha Fetters
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