Explore holiday drinking strategies designed to ensure your celebrations sparkle without the hangover haze. Christmas is fast approaching and that often means indulging on one too many alcoholic beverages (not to mention the chocolates, mince pies, cookies and desserts). As always, we like to take the balanced approach here at APT so that the results for our members are sustainable.

Therefore, it is completely reasonable to expect that there will be occasions where you may drink a bit too much and have a sore head the next day. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill available that will make the hangover go away completely.

There are however, a few strategies you can implement to ensure you are not the family member that drinks all Christmas Eve and ‘ruins Christmas’….



Metabolism of alcohol


Let’s get all sciency for a second and quickly discuss why hangovers happen. Alcohol or ethanol contains 7 calories per gram and has no micronutrient value. The body cannot store alcohol; therefore, it must be used for energy when it is consumed. As alcohol is consumed, it is absorbed into the veins before transferring to the liver.

Genetics, ethnicity, gender, age, blood type, beverage type, if food and what food has been consumed, drinking history and of course the volume of alcohol consumed all contribute to the absorption. This can help to explain why some people can drink more than others and why alcohol consumption can lead to different responses in different people.

Alcohol is then metabolised (or converted to energy) in the liver. When you drink alcohol, metabolizing of alcohol is a priority to the body over all other metabolic processes, resulting in the suffering of the sufficient metabolising of carbs and fats. This results in shakes and cravings for sugary foods the following day as the body struggles to balance sugar levels efficiently in the blood.



So, what’s a hangover then?


A hangover is a result of the excess alcohol in your body being unable to metabolise at the rate that it is being consumed. The over-consumption of alcohol can in turn result in dehydration. This often mean headaches, damage to the lining of your stomach which causes nausea and anti-inflammatory responses that result in tissue damage (to name a few!).

An enzyme called acetaldehyde created when ethanol is broken down in the live also contributes to hangovers. It is a highly reactive by-product that can lead to tissue and cell damage as it forms damaging molecules. When drinking moderately, your body can manage the alcohol load and you won’t suffer the negative effects of a hangover. Binge drinking and drinking more than your body will manage however, allows this acetaldehyde to build up in the body.



So, what are some holiday drinking strategies?


Eat before you drink


I can’t stress enough how important this is! It can have a huge affect on how you feel the day after. Food helps to slow the absorption of alcohol, which will allow longer time for the alcohol to reach your bloodstream. Eating a meal high in protein is advised to limit muscle loss when drinking alcohol. Eat up them turkey sandwiches and prawn rolls before you head out and thank me later!


Keep sipping water


Drinking water between drinks is important. It is even MORE important when we are in the middle of a hot Sydney summer and the highs are reaching 40 degrees. Drinking water between drinks will make a huge difference to your bodies ability to deal with alcohol. If you don’t get round to it on the night out, ensure to rehydrate when you get home! Taking a multivitamin and a pinch of salt or electrolyte in the water may also be beneficial. Extra alcohol consumption depletes vitamin stores which are essential for hangover recovery.


Choose your drinks wisely!


Studies show that alcohol such as whisky, wine, and certain beers can cause worse hangovers than clear alcohols such as vodka. This is due to different levels of acetone and acetaldehyde (the negatively affecting enzymes) being produced during metabolism which results in varied stress on removing the toxins. I’m sure we’ve all learned the hard way too that mixing drinks is not a good idea. So aim to stick with the same drink. Gin or vodka with fresh lime, ice and soda water works well for some people. Not to mention contains less calories than some other drinks 😉


Sweat it out – not in!


Yes, exercise may be the last thing that you want to do with a hangover. Studies do show that some form of physical activity does help. An increase in metabolic rate and blood flow is often seen with exercise. Which in turn, can help to speed the removal of toxins. Just make sure you are well hydrated before sweating it out. Continue to drink water to replace the lost fluids. If you can, try to limit the big fry, greasy foods, pizza and energy drinks to recover. Often these can make you feel worse rather than better and will just prolong the hangover even longer. Instead opt for whole foods that will support the recovery process!


In summary


Balanced celebrations matter. Handling holiday indulgences while understanding alcohol’s metabolism is key to avoiding hangovers. Exploring the science behind hangovers clarifies why moderation matters. Practical tips—from eating before drinking to smart drink choices and post-celebration recovery methods—offer a holistic approach to enjoying festivities responsibly while minimising the morning-after effects.


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