Nothing kills a buzz like a nasty next-day hangover. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, meaning it increases urination, so you lose electrolytes and become dehydrated. That's what causes most of those oh-so-lovely hangover symptoms like a headache, fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting. The memory loss, appetite changes, and foggy-headed feeling can be chalked up to the inflammatory effect alcohol has on the body.
While the only thing proven to cure a hangover is time (sorry!), what you eat and drink can certainly improve the situation and help you stabilize. Water is essential to rehydrate, and some of the most important nutrients to replenish after a night of heavy drinking are potassium and magnesium, two electrolytes that are key for proper muscle and nerve function. (FYI, these healthy pre-party meals can help you avoid a hangover in the first place.)
Coconut water, bananas, avocados, spinach, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, yogurt, citrus fruits, and tomato are some great potassium-rich choices. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, fish, chicken, and dark chocolate.
Because alcohol also causes your blood sugar to fall (which can also make you weak and shaky), this is not the time to go low-carb. Starchy carbs like oats and whole-grain bread and cereals can help get your blood glucose back on track and also provide important B vitamins like vitamin B6 and thiamine that you lose when drinking. Alcohol also depletes vitamin C, so you'll also want to work in some fruits and veggies to replace what you lost.
Go slow with very high fat or very high fiber foods if your stomach is feeling off, as they could make you feel worse. Be mindful that sugar and artificial sweeteners can set you off too. Instead, go for foods that are naturally sweet, and work some protein into that first meal so you don't experience a blood sugar crash-and-burn.
This single-serving smoothie packs a bunch of hangover-soothing foods to help you feel more like yourself ASAP.
8 ounces unflavored coconut water
1/2 medium-size banana
1/4 cup rolled or instant oats
1/4 cup pumpkin purée*
1 scoop whey or other protein powder (about 3 tablespoons)
1 large handful spinach (about 2 cups)
1 cup ice
Optional add-in: 1/4 of an avocado**
*Can sub in 1/4 cup leftover cooked sweet potato or butternut squash
1. Layer ingredients in a blender, starting with liquid. Blend until smooth.
2. If you're feeling up to it, make it a smoothie bowl by topping with a drizzle of coconut oil, some chia seeds, and coconut flakes.
Nutrition Info for one smoothie made with whey protein, no toppings (calculated using the USDA My Recipe Super-Tracker):
370 calories; 27g protein; 4g fat (2g saturated); 59g carbohydrates; 9g fiber; 29g sugar
**1/4 avocado adds an additional 54 calories, 1g protein, 2g fiber, 5g fat (1g saturated, 3g monounsaturated fat, 1g polyunsaturated)
If that doesn't work, you can always do some yoga for hangovers in the meantime.