Alcohol—Primal Hangover Prevention, Pre-Party Nutrition, the Morning After Meal

Remember, when you drink, it’s mostly carbohydrates. So watch your carbohydrate intake earlier in the day.

It’s college. So let’s cut the crap; there’s going to be a TON of alcohol (if you’re over 21 of course). Every Saturday night is another opportunity to let loose and get wasted. But let’s say you’ve made the Primal plunge. Now what? If you decide to drink and let loose like millions of college students do every year, what can you do to prevent that awful morning after full of headaches?

Let’s examine what the effects of drinking alcohol are on the body to understand what you can do to prevent a hangover. When you consume alcohol, your body becomes dehydrated. This happens because alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you lose more fluids than you gain when drinking it. You also go to the bathroom more when you drink alcohol, causing you to lose not only water, but precious electrolytes and minerals. Alcohol also decreases your body’s ability to produce antidiuretic hormone, which is usually used to reabsorb water. With this hormone blocked, you lose even more fluids than usual.

An awful hangover is never any fun. So do yourself a favor and spread your drinks out over a few hours and be careful not to over-do it.

The biggest problem when it comes to college drinking is that it’s usually done in excess and in a very short period of time a.k.a. binge drinking. Binge drinking increases your chances of becoming dehydrated and getting alcohol poisoning which can send even the strongest, most in shape person to the hospital. So the first piece of advice, drink plenty of water throughout the day before you drink and in between drinks to ensure proper hydration. You may also consider drinking electrolyte-enhanced water or other electrolyte enhanced beverages to keep those electrolytes in high quantity in your body (just be sure to watch the carbs in those other drinks).

The liver is an integral part of the human body due to the hundreds of functions it performs.

So besides dehydration, what other effects does drinking have on the body? Let’s talk about the liver. First, some background. Among hundreds of other functions, the liver:

When alcohol enters your body, it is immediately recognized as a foreign contaminant and is sent to be processed out by the liver. If you only ingest a small amount of alcohol, the effects on your liver are negligible, but for people who consume a large amount of alcohol on a regular basis, the liver takes a beating. The liver starts to become fatty and vulnerable to inflammation. This inflammation can cause fibrous tissue to increase buildup in the liver, blocking necessary blood flow to liver cells. Without the nutrients provided to the cells by the blood, the cells eventually die and are replaced with scar tissue, a condition known commonly as cirrhosis. Mild cirrhosis can usually be reversed by changing lifestyle habits, but advanced, severe cirrhosis can ultimately lead to liver failure.

That was certainly a lot to take in. But what of it? The real question for us is how to prepare our liver and prevent excessive damage when we do decide to drink. The answer comes in the form of saturated fats.

Our cell membranes are built of about 50 percent saturated fats. Ingesting adequate levels of saturated fats in your diet, specifically before you drink, guarantees the structure and rigidity of cells in the liver, even preventing some of the negative effects alcohol has on the liver.

Common healthy sources of saturated fat can be obtained from animal proteins like chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, pork, etc. The skins house a lot of the saturated fat so be sure to keep the skin-on when you go for that chicken breast (remember to always try and stay local, grass-fed, free-range and/or organic with your meats and poultry)! You can also find saturated fat in good-quality butter, coconut oil and avocado. If you’re eating out at a restaurant and you suspect they cook in vegetable oil, ask for your entree to be cooked in butter (at least you can still get some saturated fat in your diet instead of harmful vegetable oil).

Eggs are a great way to give your morning the kick you need. Loaded with health benefits, they’ll even help you out after a long night out.

So you’ve made it home after the party and as 8 . . . okay, maybe 9 a.m. rolls around you slowly meander your way out of bed and you wonder what you should eat this morning in order to stay healthy and keep preventing that hangover from coming. Almost every cafeteria has these, so this one shouldn’t be too hard—eggs.

Eggs are just a wonderful food; very Primal I might add. With a solid offering in protein and fat and a negligible carbohydrate content, these small, round, but powerful wonders offer benefits deeper than a mental energy boost in the morning. They offer all nine essential amino acids, the B-vitamin choline, the mineral selenium (which is thought to possibly have cancer preventing benefits!), and lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids which support eye health.

A diagram of the molecular structure of the amino acid cysteine.

What’s really great about eggs after drinking the night before is the cysteine found within. Cysteine is known for its ability to break down hangover-causing acetaldehyde, a toxin created in the liver when alcohol is combined with other enzymes already present in the liver.

Let’s review. Before you drink alcohol, make sure you’re hydrated. You should be peeing clear and have drunk at least three liters of water and/or electrolyte enhanced beverage. Get your saturated fat in before the party to help protect the cells in your liver. When you wake up the next day, grab a hearty serving of eggs with your breakfast. Most important of all—don’t overdo it. Spread your drinks out over a few hours and always listen to your body. You are the best judge of whether you feel sick or not. If you do feel sick, stop drinking, grab some rest and if necessary, seek medical attention.

Oh and ladies and gentleman, please NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE. It’s just not Primal.

Grok on!

About The Author

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As a recent recent high school graduate, I've seen a lot of kids struggling with health and fitness over my years in school. I went Primal when my physical trainer helped me really focus on my physical well-being in training for my baseball career. I credit a large percentage of my health and well being on and off the baseball field to my Primal lifestyle. An idea came to the my mind to create a website where kids going into college could find great information on health and nutrition as well as functional fitness. I am extremely excited to be able to write about health in the college world, as a lot of times kids forget how to eat healthy when they go off to the college world. While we saw this as an opportunity to reach out to the college world, we also wanted this site to be a resource for people of all ages struggling with their health as a place for them to go and find great resources and information. Feel free to email me or Max at cavemancollege@gmail.com with any questions you may have. Email Josh at joshsinger11@gmail.com.

4 Responses

  1. Sam
    Sam July 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm | | Reply

    Hey man I used these tactics last night and they worked great thanks guys! Lawl

  2. Ami
    Ami July 24, 2012 at 5:03 am | | Reply

    Do you have any suggestions on the best type of alcohol? It’s pretty obvious that Bud Light isn’t the best choice. I’ve heard that wine would be the best option, but it isn’t exactly a party drink. I know alcohol and college partying aren’t exactly primal but I’m looking for a mixed drink that could work as a good compromise.

    1. Max Ungar
      Max Ungar July 24, 2012 at 5:09 am | | Reply

      Ami,
      Robb Wolf of robbwolf.com and The Paleo Solution has a paleo mixed drink recipe that is famous (or infamous) in the paleo world. He calls it his “Nor-Cal Margarita.” Here is a link to the recipe: http://nick.zadrozny.com/post/318559399/the-norcal-margarita . It is a great party drink if you’re not interested in sipping on red wine at a party! Hope this helps and thanks for the comment!

      1. Ami
        Ami July 24, 2012 at 11:35 am | | Reply

        Thanks! I’ll have to give it a try.

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