You’ve likely been told to ‘line your stomach’ before drinking alcohol at some point or other; and while this is undoubtedly great advice, some foods are better than others at protecting your body (and brain) from the toxic effects of alcohol.
When we fill our stomachs before drinking alcohol, the food we eat does several things. First, it dilutes the alcohol we consume afterwards due to the water content of the food. Next, the proteins, fats, and fibre slow down the absorption of alcohol while refuelling our bodies with vitamins and minerals that alcohol depletes. This is why the type and quality of food we choose to eat before drinking is so important and can have such a dramatic effect on how we feel the effects of alcohol.
Eating the right type of food pre-drinking can not only help to decrease some of the negative effects of drinking alcohol; they can also help to control hunger and balance electrolytes. However, eating the wrong type of food can actually make you feel worse both during and after drinking alcohol, causing heartburn, indigestion, dehydration and bloating – not ideal. We’re here to give you the holy grail of pre-drinking foods and bring you our top 5 ultimate hangover-fighting recipes to leave you fresh as a daisy the day after the night before.
Let’s begin with the Top 10 best foods to eat and uncover exactly why they are so effective:
What to eat:
- Eggs – packed full of protein and brain boosting nutrient choline; eggs are a fantastic and versatile pre-drink food. Eggs also contain valuable liver-protecting B vitamins and the amino acid cysteine, which helps rid your body of toxins (6, 10). Protein keeps us fuller longer more than any other macronutrient, which helps to reduce the risk of booze-fuelled munchies… and waking up next to the remains of a kebab that seemed a lot more appealing at the time (9, 20). Since alcohol has been shown to lower our inhibitions and increase appetite; choosing a meal high in protein before drinking alcohol is your best bet to avoid the takeaway calling your name at home time. If you’re short on time, eggs make a perfect speedy snack to fill you up before you head out. Enjoy them scrambled, boiled, fried or poached – get a triple dose of delicious goodness by pairing them with smoked salmon and avocado, seen in our recipe later on.
- Salmon – one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a perfect pre-drinking protein source. Not only high in protein to help reduce hunger, it’s the healthy fats in salmon that are the star of the show. Fat helps to slow down the rate that food leaves the stomach, the longer the food is in the stomach, the slower the rate of alcohol is absorbed into your blood (meaning you’ll feel less like death warmed up the next day). This is why when we drink alcohol on an empty stomach, we feel the effects very quickly because the alcohol is almost instantly absorbed into the blood (6, 14,15). Salmon is also a fantastic source of vitamin B12, which are depleted massively when we drink alcohol. So, you’ll get an extra boost of antioxidants to protect your liver and gut from excessive toxins and damage. So try it, grilled, pan-fried, baked, poached, raw in sashimi/tartare, smoked – even tinned! Veggie? Nuts are another fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, so have a handful at least 15 minutes before drinking to reap the benefits.
- Oats – cheap, quick and incredibly nutritious – oats are a fantastic source of fibre and protein; both of which make us feel fuller for longer. In addition to its impressive nutritionals, many studies have shown that oats can be beneficial for liver health by protecting against alcohol-induced liver damage and improving liver function (1,4, 7, 10). More versatile than you might think, oats are not only delicious served as porridge or overnight oats, but they also work fantastically in baked goods such as flapjacks and granola bars. A great addition to any smoothie and oats can even be blended into a flour and used to make flatbreads or pizza crust! You can also use oats to make your own oat milk, all you need is oats and water (however this will reduce some of the nutrients available).
- Bananas – when we drink alcohol, we need to pee more – especially once you’ve broken the seal’ with the first pee of the night! Not just an inconvenience, all this extra peeing leaves us at risk of ‘washing away’ dangerous amounts of sodium and potassium from our bodies. To keep these levels topped up, get a banana down you to boost potassium levels. Better still, combine with greek yogurt which is not only high in protein, but full of natural sodium to keep your levels balanced (2, 10).
- Greek yogurt – talk of the devil! Greek yogurt is one of the best pre-drink foods available due to its perfect balance of protein, fat and carbs (6, 18). Another super-versatile ingredient; top with fruit of your choice, nuts and seeds, use to make dips, sauces and dressings, blend with your favourite fruit into delicious smoothies or freeze the mixture into frozen yogurt treats. A great speedy snack option if you don’t have time to cook a whole meal before heading out on the town
- Berries – Hailed as superfoods with good reason. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are bursting with antioxidants and essential nutrients, including fibre, vitamins C and K and manganese. Berries also have a high water content which helps you to stay hydrated – which is of great importance when drinking alcohol. The antioxidants present in berries have also been shown to protect cells against alcohol induced damaged. Studies have shown that blueberries are effective at increasing the levels of several antioxidants in the liver – which could help in protecting against oxidative stress caused as a result of drinking alcohol (4, 8, 11, 12,17, 19).
- Avocado – Whether you’re an avo addict or have an avo aversion, eating avocados before a heavy session can drastically slow down how quickly alcohol is absorbed by your body. Particularly great if you’re a veggie/vegan and don’t get your healthy fats from oily fish, avocados are an incredibly rich source. These healthy fats take hours to be processed in the gut which means the alcohol will also be processed slowly (3). If you’re not a fan of the taste/texture of avo’s; throw them in a smoothie with so they go undetected while you reap the benefits! See our Super Boost Smoothie recipe below.
- Sweet potato – Yet another wonderful source of potassium, sweet potatoes are also high in complex carbs which are slow digesting and can help to reduce the effects of alcohol on the body (18). Sweet potatoes are great used in both sweet and savoury dishes. They make the perfect jacket potato and go with just about anything! Try topping a baked sweet potato with cinnamon, peanut butter, greek yogurt, and your choice of fruit for a delicious pre-drink sweet treat. Pureed sweet potatoes also make fantastic additions to baked goods such as brownies and blondies and bread. Sweet potato fries are always a crowd pleaser, and when baked not fried, they make a highly nutritious snack or side dish. See our sweet potato fries and dips recipe below for a speedy (and veggie friendly) pre-drink delight!
- Quinoa – This glorious grain is high in protein, fibre and several essential micronutrients. It is especially high in potassium and magnesium – both minerals shown to help minimise electrolyte imbalances caused by consuming alcohol (16). Not just a healthy substitute for rice or couscous; there are many different ways of using quinoa such as in stews, soups, and salads. Quinoa is also a great ingredient to add to homemade energy balls, granola bars, muffins, cakes. Adding quinoa to falafel mix before baking or frying is also a delicious way to use it and adds a great texture and bite. See our quinoa pudding recipe below for a delicious pre-drinking treat.
- Beetroot – this purple powerhouse packs a serious nutrient punch! If you can’t find fresh beets (or don’t want the hassle/stained hands), pre-packed cooked beetroot in its juices are a great option, generally super-cheap and available in most supermarkets. Beets boast a seriously impressive antioxidant content and have been shown to have a protective effect on liver cells, reducing damage by 38%. Further studies have found that beetroot juice increases several enzymes involved in detoxification and liver function (5, 12, 13). If using fresh beets, they are fantastic roasted, grilled, boiled or pickled! They are a tasty addition to any soup, salsa, slaw or salad and make a delicious dip – see our minty beet and yogurt dip below. Blended beetroot can also be used to make gooey chocolate brownies and provide an added hit of antioxidants.
What to avoid
It’s worth swerving refined carbs and sugary foods pre-drinking such as white bread, white pasta, sweets and fizzy soft drinks. This is because they digest very quickly, meaning that the alcohol you consume will be absorbed into your blood rapidly. They can also cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, which increases the likelihood of getting beer-fueled munchies later on in the night. Foods high in salt such as crisps or chips may also cause bloating and fluid retention – particularly when paired with drinking alcohol.
Our Top 5 Hangover-Busting Recipes:
We’ve created some killer combinations for these super-tasty and nutritious recipes, ensuring you get the very best from each ingredient in your meal. They are all very simple and quick to prepare so there’s no excuse not to whip up one of these delights before your next big night out! All recipes are for 1x serving so if you’re making for more than yourself, adjust the quantities appropriately.
Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with avocado
Nutrition per serving – kcal: 562 Protein: 39g, Carbs: 31g, Fat: 34g
- 2-4 eggs, whisked (add a splash of milk if you like)
- Tsp coconut oil
- 80g smoked salmon
- ½ avocado, sliced or mashed
- Large handful of spinach
- Slice of toast or bagel
- Melt the oil on a medium heat in a large frying pan, add the whisked eggs.
- Using a spatula lightly scramble the eggs and once its your desired consistency, remove from the heat.
- Top your toast or bagel with the avocado and layer the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on top.
- Serve with the spinach and enjoy!
Tip – if you prefer, this is equally delicious with poached eggs or grilled fresh salmon works well too!
Overnight oats with banana and nuts
Nutrition per serving – kcal: 507 Protein: 18g, Carbs: 60g, Fat: 24g
- 1 large banana
- 50g rolled oats
- 120ml milk or almond milk
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- Generous pinch of cinnamon
- Handful of nuts to serve
- Mash half of the banana and wrap the other half in foil or cling film and refrigerate for when ready to serve. In a glass jar/bowl/Tupperware mix together the oats, cinnamon, peanut butter mashed banana and a splash of milk.
- Stir thoroughly to combine. Add the remaining milk, stir, cover and refrigerate overnight (or if you can’t wait for a minimum of 4 hours)!
- When ready to serve, slice the remaining half of the banana, layer it on the top of your oats and top with the nuts. Grab a spoon and dig in!
Quinoa pudding with Greek yogurt and berries
Nutrition per serving – kcal: 596 Protein: 36g, Carbs: 93g, Fat: 27g
- 100g Greek yogurt
- 80-100g berries of your choice
- 1 tbsp nuts/seeds (optional)
- 75g quinoa
- 25g porridge oats
- 250ml milk or unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp TPW Zero Syrup maple syrup flavour
- Put the quinoa and oats in a small saucepan with 250ml water and 100ml of milk.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick
- Add the remaining milk and simmer for a further 5 minutes until thick and creamy
- Spoon into jars or bowls and top with the yogurt, berries, nuts and syrup. Delicious!
Sweet potato chips with guacamole and beetroot dip
Nutrition per serving – kcal: 556 Protein: 20g, Carbs: 66g, Fat: 31g
- 1 large sweet potato, skin left on and chopped into chips/wedges
- 1 tsp olive or coconut oil
- 1 avocado, mashed
- ½ tomato or 2/3 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp chilli flakes or finely chopped fresh chili to you taste
- Juice of ½ lime or lemon
- 1-2 cooked beetroots from packet, drained
- 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
- Heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
- Toss your chopped sweet potatoes with the oil, salt and pepper and ½ tsp dried chili flakes in a large bowl.
- Spread onto a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until the chips are crisp and golden brown.
- While the chips are baking, make you dips! Start by mixing the mashed avocado with the finely chopped tomatoes ½ tsp chili flakes (or fresh chili), the lime juice and salt and pepper (to taste). Cover and leave in the fridge until the chips are ready.
- For the beetroot dip, whiz up the beets in a blender or food processor. Mix with Greek yogurt and season with salt and pepper to taste (fresh mint also works really well in this dip).
- Serve the chips with the dips and dig in!
Super Boost Smoothie
Nutrition per serving – kcal: 427 Protein: 17g, Carbs: 69g, Fat: 17g
- 1 banana
- Handful of (frozen or fresh) berries
- 100g Greek yogurt
- 25g oats
- ½ avocado
- 1 small cooked beetroot, drained
- 1 tsp TPW Zero Syrup Honey flavour
Throw all of the ingredients into a blender, add water to achieve your desired consistency, blitz and enjoy!
The Take Home:
The type of food you eat before drinking alcohol can have a massive impact on how you feel both at the end of the night and the morning after! While each of the foods listed above are effective individually; if you combine them together, like in our delicious recipes, you’ll reap even more of the benefits available in one nutrient-rich hit!
So, choose wisely and aim to eat a meal containing a combination of several of the foods discussed above. We also discussed how certain foods can actually make us feel worse the next day after drinking alcohol – so give those a swerve if you can!
To avoid a hangover completely, it’s imperative to ensure you’re hydrated – before, during and after drinking alcohol. So, down a large glass of water pre-drink, try to drink water in between alcoholic drinks, drink another large glass of water before bed to stay hydrated while you sleep and yep, yet another large glass when you wake up the next day. Better still, add a slice/squeeze of fresh lemon to you water – our livers love lemon for its cleansing properties.
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