I actually had someone younger ask me this the other day. My job requires me to entertain on occasion and often we will have drinks. There are a few simple rules I try to follow, the first is to be the most sober person in the room. Now the caveat is if someone there is not consuming, they are not up for consideration, only those who are consuming. This will not stop a hangover, but should keep you from dancing around naked with a lampshade on your head. So what should you do before a night or weekend of above average consumption. A few simple steps should keep headache away.
Before I give away the secret, let’s understand the hangover. It’s not a simple thing and since I write a fairly simple blog so let’s pick one element and focus on that. The one element would be dehydration. To me it immediately makes sense if I stay hydrated I can generally keep the hangover at arm’s length. The problem most people have is if they are drinking a fluid they believe it is keeping them hydrated. In reality the alcohol is probably going to cause them to urinate and they are just going to lose any benefits of the beer, wine or cocktail that the fluid in the drink would provide.
I’m still not willing to give up the farm. A good thing to do is to eat before you consume and preferably something with a high fat content. I’m not talking about chowing down on chicken wings two hours after you did all the headstands on the keg. I’m talking about an hour or two before you begin consumption. The fat will slow the absorption of alcohol and less alcohol will mean less hangover later. You could opt for the lowest alcohol beverage provided and typically that will be a beer, but the carbonation in beer can lead to some interesting effects. I once did a paid alcohol study in college and they used Champagne to gauge your level of intoxication. The researchers told me the carbonation does some interesting things to allow absorption of alcohol in your tissues including those in the mouth, throat, stomach, etc. I’ve noticed I can have equivalent alcohol amounts of wine and beer and will often feel less from the wine than from the beer. I believe this is due to the absorption by tissues of the alcohol in the drink caused by the carbonation. Now in the end the alcohol is the alcohol so eventually it will even out, but initially something with carbonation will affect you sooner than a still drink.
Ok, now for the secret. Drink an equivalent amount of water for every 6%ABV of alcoholic beverage. Before you pull out a calculator know that most beers are 6-7% so for every beer, have a glass of water. I typically have them at the same time. A glass of wine is typically 12-13% and the pour is typically 6 ounces so have 12 ounces of water. The downside to this plan is you will urinate frequently, but the upside is that will allow you to drink more of your favorite beverage and water. I often try to drink the glass of water and the beer at the same time. It helps cleanse the palate so you can keep enjoying the flavor in the beer. At times you will have a less attentive waiter or waitress and get ahead on the alcohol, where they make money, and rarely get the water-glass filled. I’ve been known to tell the server the water is just as important as the alcoholic beverage.
So let’s say you tied it on pretty good, your water intake was just not quite up to snuff and you are fearful of the next day. The key would be to drink as much water as you can stand throughout the night each time you wake up. It may not stop the hangover from happening, but for certain it will be less severe.