Boozy post-work drinks, late night parties and indulgent dinners – our health often goes out the window when our calendars get packed up, not to mention our productivity, energy and mental agility the next day. We've all been there, and we've all tried so many ways to help fight the inevitable headache and queasiness of a hangover. Some work, some don't.
The good news is that there are key, not-so-secret, handy and easy ways to cover your bases if you don’t want to leave the party early (or refuse deep fried canapés) – here are 5 go-to tips to help you deal with a terrible hangover as soon as you wake up.
Step-by-step guide when you wake up to get rid of a hangover
1. Sip on a mug of hot water with ginger and lemon first thing
You may have heard of or seen on social media the benefits of drinking hot water and lemon, but it's especially the case after a night of drinking. Not only does this special mix hydrate you first thing, it's the perfect morning recovery hangover drink to kick-start detoxification and warm up the body – helping you feel awake and alert. Lemon and ginger are both ideal ingredients to help you get over a hangover fast because their natural components fight off uncomfortable symptoms like nausea (1). They also trigger digestion, helping to rid you of the harmful waste products produced when you've had a little too much. It's best to drink first thing in the morning, so make sure you don't skip this step especially if it's a weekday! You don't want to be sitting at your desk wishing you had tried every remedy you could to stop feeling so hungover.
2. Make a hearty, protein-rich egg breakfast
Most people say that they start to feel less hungover if they've eaten within two hours of waking up. The right type of food is key for shaking off a hangover, and there is a real science to this. Firstly, it’s essential to eat a good combination of wholegrain/complex carbs, protein and healthy fats, which will deliver sustained energy to prevent the ups and downs of a hangover and help you stop feeling so nauseous. You also want foods that deliver nutrients to boost detox and energy while replenishing salts and electrolytes in your body.
The best hangover food or breakfast that does all of this is smashed avocado on toast with eggs. Whether it’s poached, boiled or fried (in coconut oil), protein and B-vitamin rich eggs support detox and balance blood sugar and contain cysteine – an amino acid that breaks down acetyl-aldehyde, a toxic byproduct produced when alcohol is broken down in the body (2). Pair this with nutrient dense and yummy avocado for your dose of healthy fat and you'll start to feel better in no time. Many high street take-away restaurants and cafés like M&S, Pret and Eat now sell eggs, often with avocado or smoked salmon, so you should be able to pick it up on the way to work. Yes!
3. Choose the right supplements to support yourself
Not only is alcohol an anti-nutrient, it uses up the body's vitamins and minerals leaving you feeling low on energy, with poor immunity, headaches and even bad skin. Taking a good quality supplement can be one solution to help you support this loss of nutrients – so if you have a big event coming up and you know that you'll be indulging more than usual, adding a supplement to your regimen might be useful.
Note: Pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme. Certain supplements are used for different reasons.
4. Some caffeine goes a long way
Caffeine can really come in handy when you're hungover – it can boost your energy and mental agility. However keep in mind that though one cup a day is fine, it's best not to overdo traditional coffee or black tea as this can contribute to energy fluctuations and make you feel wired.
Instead, try drinking good quality green tea, white tea or jasmine. These contain caffeine alongside a burst of antioxidants and brain-boosting compounds such as EGCG which are famed for their health-giving properties (3). They also help to get your brain power back and can support memory (which is great until you start getting flashbacks of the night before!).
Another tasty option is one of the best drinks that can help get rid of a hangover – matcha. The powder is a great solution as it contains a hit of caffeine alongside a high dose of many hangover-relieving compounds (3). You can find them all over the city now, from health food stores to your local coffee shop.
5. Sweat it out
Last but not least, sweating out a hangover is a great way for the body to excrete things it wants to get rid of – and though working out might seem like the last thing you want to do when you're hungover, it really can help to clear the body of unwanted compounds that can ease hangover symptoms.
The good news is that you can choose between exercise or simply heading to your local gym and sitting in the sauna for a little while. If you choose to exercise, you don't have to exhaust yourself at a spin class, you can even go for a 5-minute walk to help you stimulate the lymph to prevent sluggishness. Oxygenating the body with fresh air is an added bonus, helping to blow out the cobwebs and relieve nausea. If you can walk or cycle to work, or get out a couple of train/bus stops early, then make the effort and you’ll likely feel better faster. If you can’t get outside then try having spicy food at lunch, which also acts a diaphoretic to get blood flowing and metabolism moving.
So take these 5 simple steps with you to cover your bases no matter what pops up in your calendar and get ahead of that hangover from hell.
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1. National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
2. ACS Chemistry: https://www.acs.org/content/dam/acsorg/events/popular-chemsitry/Slides/2014-01-16-hangover.pdf
3. Oxford Journals: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/136/4/1043/4664173