Image Credit: Matilda Djerf
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My favorite pastimes are as follows: skiing, running, hiking, beaching, and perfecting my OJ to Veuve ratio. (Approximately 1.5 tablespoons of juice to a flute, if you’re curious.) There’s more overlap with these activities than initially meets the eye–I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to grab a Bloody at the lodge or enjoy a beer after an especially tough hike. It’s all about balance.
The one thing that stands in the way of living my dream lifestyle is the alcohol aftershock we all love to hate: the hangover. She and I do the dance too often, throwing off my day and derailing any plans I might have made previously. (Read: that sunrise hike I promised my friends I’d definitely make this time.)
After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided I no longer have the space on my Google calendar for hangovers. I have since dedicated my weekends to researching the most effective ways to prevent and treat the nasty little buggers. (Spoiler alert: hair of the dog did not make the list.) Here are my findings on how to enjoy your happy hour in the hot tub, and still make it to the mountain bright and early.
Your Hangover Remedies, by Category:
- Protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, fruit & veg
- Justin's Classic Almond Butter Packet, $1.49
- Slate Dark Chocolate Milk, $37 (pack of 12)
- Slate Milk Chocolate Drink Mix, $25 (pack of 12)
- Barebells Protein Bars, $29 (pack of $12)
- Limit screen time & block blue light
- The Good Patch, Sleep & Recovery:
- Dream, $12
- Nite Nite, $16
- Rescue, $12
- Revive $16
- Flewd Insomnia Ending Anti-Stress Bath Treatment, $9
- Flewd Anxiety Destroying Soak Bath Treatment, $9
- Water with a pinch of salt, all day every day
- WaterBoy Hydration + Weekend Recovery, $25 (pack of 12)
- Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier, $25 (pack of 12)
For your Gut:
- Fermented/cultured foods, like kimchi and greek yogurt
- Zbiotics Pre-Alcohol Probiotic Drink, $60 (pack of 6)
To Prevent: You get out what you put in, so eating well both before and during drinking festivities is key to avoiding a hangover. Any food is leagues better than no food at all, but not all sustenance is created equal. Look at meals that have plenty of protein and healthy fats, like meat, fish, nuts, avocado, and olive oil. These nutrients can actually slow down the absorption of alcohol. (So you don’t get too drunk too fast.) A perfect excuse to have pre-drinks dinner with some friends or a food-centered pregame at your place. And yes, it is justified to order the fully loaded nachos at the bar.
To Treat: Fruits and veg like bananas, blueberries, avocado and oranges help restore lost electrolytes and nutrients that contribute to feeling awful after a night out. Protein, fat, and complex carbs like potatoes and oatmeal are also great to include in your post-party breakfast. In an ideal universe, we could sit down in the morning and make sure to eat all of the healthy things to recover. In reality, I’m scrambling for my hiking boots while brushing something out of my hair. Since we are not in the business of skipping breakfast after depleting our bodies the night before, I’ll grab something on the go. My standard choice is a banana and a handful of blueberries with a Justin’s almond butter packet. (Hello protein, potassium and antioxidants!)
If I’m not quite ready for solids, I’ll choose a Slate Milk. These are protein packed, lactose free canned milks and lattes. They also recently came out with drink packets for increased convenience. The Dark chocolate is delish and not too sweet. I also love adding a shot of espresso over ice for a caffeine boost if I have the time. I wasn’t as impressed by their latte flavor though so consider skipping if you trust my judgment.
I am also highly addicted to these protein bars from Barebells. IMO, Chocolate Dough reigns as the supreme flavor (I’m a chocolate lady, if you can’t tell by now), but Cookies and Cream and Caramel Cashew are close seconds. They also have some great plant based flavors, like the Hazelnut Nougat. You can grab them in a 12 pack on their site, but Trader Joes is always stocked up if you want to test out some flavors.
These are all solid convenient options to help fuel your hike, bike, walk, surf, etcetera. Just make sure you’re getting a real meal as soon as possible after your outdoor excursion. I mean, morning debrief with the girls is required anyway, and it’s practically criminal for that not to include fried eggs and plenty of avocado toast. And if you’re down real bad, the greasiest breakfast burrito you can find usually does the trick. Don’t know the science behind this one, but I stand by it.
To Prevent: We all know by now that our sleep affects so much (our energy, our mood, our brains). If you’re planning to imbibe, attempting to get good quality sleep beforehand definitely plays a role in how you feel post drinks. The first thing I did to help with this is to set limits on my social media apps. I’m a chronic nighttime scroller, and there are countless studies showing the harmful effects of blue light and general phone usage before bed. My goal is to stay off technology at least an hour before I lay down. When I do this, I notice a difference in my ability to fall asleep, and also how I feel when I wake up. I also use the sleep/wake features on my iPhone. Set it to any time, and it will automatically silence notifications and remind you to “wind down” and prepare for bed.
And if none of these are realistic for you, that’s OK. This took me a considerable amount of time to figure out, as I struggle with sleep with or without a hangover. An achievable hack for everyone though, is turning off the bluelight from your devices. iPhones and Macs both can be set up to turn off blue light automatically at a specified time each day, to decrease your exposure before bed.
To Treat: It’s no secret alcohol disrupts your sleep. There’s also a good chance you’re out late and have to be up early the next day, so duration is cut short as well. You can increase the quality of the sleep you do get with patches from The Good Patch. With ingredients like melatonin and valerian root, these transdermal patches promote more restful shut eye. They carry a Dream Patch and a Nite Nite patch, the latter version has hemp added. You can also help treat your imminent hangover while you sleep with the Rescue and Revive (hemp version) patches, designed specifically for post alcohol recovery. I do think all of these make a difference in the morning, but the trick is to put them on before bed.
You are most likely in a sleep deficit after drinking, so make sure you get some quality Z’s the evening following. I love winding down with a magnesium bath before bed. The benefits of magnesium on the body arde endless, and especially helps with sleep quality. The Insomnia Ending Soak from Flewd makes me super relaxed and ready to snooze. If you deal with heart racing or the shakes (AKA hangxiety) as a result of your hangover, give the Anxiety Destroying Soak a try.
Staying properly hydrated, before, during, and after drinking is ultra important for avoiding and decreasing the aggressiveness of a hangover. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning your body pulls fluids from blood quickly when it’s in your system. You typically have dehydration to thank for the splitting headache you wake up to. Especially if you’re planning on being outside and doing things the following morning, you need to make sure you’re doubling down on fluids.
I am little-miss-constantly-dehydrated, so this one is particularly tough for me. To combat, I supplement my pre and post booze with plenty of water and an electrolyte mix. I found it’s best to source electrolytes from natural sources like your food, or a homemade mix of coconut water, lemon and salt. However, I’ve also found that post-booze, convenience trumps all, and if I’m barely able to sit up in bed I’m sure as hell not heading to the store or my fridge for a DIY situation.
I constantly reach for the Hydration + Weekend Recovery packs from WaterBoy. I tested these for a bachelorette weekend, and have stocked up ever since. I’d choose this brand over other electrolyte mixes, simply because it’s not tooth–achingly sweet in the way I find options like Liquid IV to be. I like these packets because it’s easy to stick them in your pocket on–the–go. You can even use the powder as part of a mixer for drinks, (or as chaser, if you’re bold enough for shots.) I also try to fill up a water bottle with some combination of this before I go out so I have no reason not to hydrate after I’m home.
If you don’t have any of these on hand, a good ol ‘pinch of salt added to your water can also help retain some of those electrolytes that alcohol depletes. Lastly, I can hardly function without caffeine as is, so grabbing a latte or cappuccino to get me out the door is key.
Get your Gut in check
Of course, lifestyle changes such as eating healthier, staying hydrated, and getting better sleep are going to help combat the poison (sorry, I said it) we’re putting into our bodies. But, even after making these changes and taking the necessary preparations for drinking, I would often still wake up feeling like trash. I couldn’t accept that.
I did some (actual) research and found that consuming alcohol creates a byproduct called acetaldehyde, which is hypothesized to be the main culprit for hangover symptoms. Your liver has an enzyme to help break down this byproduct, but your gut doesn’t. As you drink, this byproduct builds up in the gut with nowhere to go. As they now refer to your gut as your second brain, I figure the disruption to your microbiome could definitely contribute to morning-after wreckage.
You may be able to help combat this by having a diverse gut microbiome to begin with. So, make sure you’re incorporating gut friendly foods like fiber and fermented options (kimchi, greek yogurt, nato, sauerkraut, etc.) into your diet. For ultimate prevention, my holy grail product is Zbiotics. This is a pre-alcohol probiotic drink that mimics the enzymes found in your liver and puts it in your gut. Essentially, it breaks down the acetaldehyde that your liver can’t get to. They do a much better job of explaining this process than I can, so head over to their How it Works page if you want to know more. And if you’re feeling extra nerdy, read up on the complete science behind the drink here. Consider me influenced, because I promptly bought the six pack.
In the name of science, I convinced my coworkers to have a bottle and board night on a casual Tuesday and proceeded to down 3 glasses of chardonnay and a gin lemonade. And holy shit, this actually worked.
I woke up feeling completely fine. I was even dehydrated before I started drinking, (not me ignoring my own advice) which always translates to a recipe for disaster. But I was okay! I tried it out again the following weekend and got the same results. Granted, it was cocktails with dinner–I wasn’t pounding shots all night. (Not sure anything can save you from that.) But if you feel it in the morning after one glass of wine like me, this might be your golden ticket. I now feel completely confident to enjoy a night out with friends and still spend my Sunday how I intended: getting outside in this gorgeous spring weather.
I ended up paying $51 for a case of six. (with a 15% off code I found on TikTok.) At nearly $10 a pop I really didn’t want this to work, because I will now have to re-purchase these for the rest of my life. I promise once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to go back to drinking without. You’ve been warned.
Lastly, and most obviously, skipping alcohol is the sure fire way to avoid a hangover and feel your best on your run, hike, bike or shred. And please, don’t ever feel pressure to hit it hard. If the sober route’s more your speed, check out our tips and recs for non alcoholic Après.