Hangover Prevention & Recovery Guide

hangover cure, racing season

The Ultimate Hangover Prevention & Recovery Guide.

How NOT to wear a hangover the next day – and what to do if you find yourself with a nasty hangover.

Carnival Season is in full swing in Australia. There’s no doubt that you’re likely sorting out what you’ll be wearing to the big events, including if you’re attending the races on Melbourne Cup Day.  But HOW do you have a great time at the races without wearing a hangover the next day?  Read more about hangover prevention and the alleged “hangover cures”.

Best Way to Recover From a Hangover:  “Prevention is Better Than A Cure”

The age old adage that prevention is better than a cure is something you’ll want to think about on Race Day – from TWO key perspectives.

1) Avoid getting sun burnt by wearing a high quality, physical block sun screen and reapplying frequently.    The sun not only damages your skin, it can lead to pigmentation problems and even skin cancers.

Read our BLOG on sun protection.

2) Hangover Prevention

There are 3 key parts to having a hangover prevention strategy. Unfortunately, they can be temporarily forgotten while you’re out in the sun having fun. So write them down and carry them in your purse; try to remind yourself of these tips throughout the day.

Hangover Prevention Tip#1:
Your water fluid intake should equal OR ideally EXCEED your alcohol intake

  • The first trick for hangover prevention is WATER or H2O consumption
  • You should drink 1 to 2 big glasses of water BEFORE you head out to any event
  • You should also drink a large glass of water between each alcohol-based drink (fresh, plain water – no substitutes)

Pure Water is best – Avoid sugary juices and energy drinks as they might make your hangover worse

Do NOT add juices, carbonated beverages or sports drinks (such as Red Bull) to your drinking regime

  • These will only make the toxic effects of alcohol worse

If there is a chance you are pregnant, do NOT drink at all

  • There is NO SAFE LEVEL of alcohol intake during any stage of pregnancy
  • If you drink, your future child could end up suffering from brain damage or FASD
  • If you’re out with a friend who’s pregnant, do NOT encourage her to have an alcohol based drink

hangover cure

Why is WATER a great way to prevent a hangover?

  • Dehydration often leads you to drink more alcohol out of thirst, when what your body really wants – and needs – is water
  • Drinking water can help slow down consumption of alcohol as well as help dilute the impact of the toxins in your system
  • Dehydration makes hangovers worse the next day; water will go a long way towards prevention and minimisation of the effects of alcohol on your body

PRACTICAL TIP:  If you stay well hydrated on racing days, you may find yourself visiting the facilities more than usual. DO bring extra tissues or toilet paper along in your purse in case the facilities are overrun with other race goers.

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Hangover Prevention Tip#2:  NUTRITION
Eat enough FOOD and do NOT ‘pre-load’ before an event

  • Be sure you EAT HEALTHY FOOD – and enough of it – before you have a first drink
  • DON’T PRELOAD your body with alcohol before an event; if you do, be sure it’s only 1 standard drink and that it’s taken on a FULL stomach
  • EAT continually THROUGHOUT THE DAY – aim for healthy food that has some balance in terms of food groups and don’t skip on carbs or proteins

Hangover Prevention Tip#3:  PACING & SETTING LIMITS
Have a DRY Hour every 3rd Hour of the Event & LIMIT the number of drinks you have in the day – keep track!

  • Set a limit that takes into account how long you’ll be at the event AND your BMI and body weight
    • Fat metabolism, height/weight and other factors impact how your body processes alcohol
    • Remember that everyone is different – DON’T try to keep up with your friends
    • Say NO politely OR switch to water; don’t be afraid to try diluting your drinks with water
  • Read up on how much alcohol is in a standard drink and what that means in terms of your blood alcohol conent (BAC)
  • Don’t mix and match different types of alcohol as it’s harder to keep track of what you’re drinking AND might increase the negative effects of a hangover

DO KEEP TRACK of exactly how much you’re drinking (this is where most of us go wrong)!

  • Have a DRY hour where you consume ONLY water and eat food every 3rd hour of being at an event
  • Set your watch for every 2 hours and time your DRY hour – learn to say NO to refills and top ups
  • Generally limit yourself to what is considered  1 to 2 standard drinks per hour MAXIMUM in terms of your BMI and body weight – PLUS give yourself a safe daily limit and do NOT exceed this
    • binging is very harmful to your health in more ways than just a hangover
    • high alcohol consumption is even linked with increased breast cancer risks
    • you don’t want to look back with embarrassment on how you behaved in public or in front of close friends or new dating prospects
  • DO NOT drive or operate machinery under the influence of ANY alcohol – stay safe and keep others safe
  • If you know you have a tendency to over-consume, DON’T drink at all on racing day – and get professional help – women’s bodies are potentially more susceptible to developing problem drinking patterns than men’s bodies, due to different hormones and enzyme levels that impact alcohol detoxification

hangover prevention, avoid hangover at races

The Best Hangover Remedies for After Race Days

Here comes the BAD news for when you’re feeling badly after racing day.  There are over 100 different ‘hangover cures’ touted on the internet, but their effectiveness is dubious.

One of the top evidence-based medical research review groups, the Cochrane Collaboration, was investigating the effectiveness of numerous popular hangover cures.  They have been looking into a number of studies to determine which hangover cure was better than others.

What earlier systematic reviews have found was this:

“[…]no compelling evidence exists to suggest that any complementary or conventional intervention is effective for treating or preventing the alcohol hangover.” Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1322250/

What this means:  You could be wasting time and money (or even harming your health) by trying things like cabbage, charcoal table, Ginseng, Glutamine, liver-cleansing pills and so forth.  Fish oil MIGHT help reduce inflammatory responses, but apparently you have to be taking it for weeks in advance, not just before or after drinking.  Plus, the jury still seems to be out as to how much different supplement help, or hinder, health.  Again, the only effective way to deal with a hangover is by avoiding getting one in the first place.

So prevention – limiting your alcohol intake – is your only genuine hope on racing day.

If you ARE stuck with a hangover the next morning, just be sensible.

Remember, ALCOHOL IS A DRUG. It’s also a TOXIN. Your body will need time to eliminate the toxins from your system.

  1. HYDRATE!  Drink plenty of fresh, clean water (not caffeine or other substances that increase dehydration – dehydration makes a hangover worse).
  2. Eat HEALTHY foods (these won’t necessarily help, but will be good for your body in the longer run). If you’re feeling queasy, try eating dry toast or toast with Vegemite – just as you normally would for a condition that leaves you with nausea.
  3. GINGER, EGGS and ASPARAGUS have some properties that may help break down the alcohol in your body so might be worth a try.
  4. DON’T drink more alcohol – avoid any form of ‘hair of the dog’ approach – these tactics only delay the inevitable.
  5. Go for a WALK or get ACTIVE if the weather is nice.
  6. DON’T necessarily take ACETAMINOPHEN as some medications can harm the liver due to metabolic changes of the body’s elimination of the alcohol toxins.
  7. Some people swear by an OCEAN SWIM or a POOL swim – but make sure you’re fully sober before you go anywhere near the water or get into your car.
  8. SAUNAS can be very dehydrating and tough on the body’s systems if you’re feeling unwell. So GO EASY if you choose this route and be sure you’re hydrated before and after.  Don’t stay in longer than a few minutes.

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Your Skin After Racing Carnival Season

IF your skin needs some pampering before or after racing carnival season, contact our Dermal Clinician team for information about revitalising facials and Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) such as Healite II treatments.

With great at-home products and top in-clinic skin treatments, our Coco Ruby team can help your skin recovery BEFORE the next holiday parties are upon you!


References: Further reading on alcohol or hangovers:

  1. Pittler MH, Verster JC, Ernst E. Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2005; 331: 1515
  2. Systematic Review: Are the results of the review valid? Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford. http://www.cebm.net/index.aspx?o=1157 Retrieved: 14 November 2011
  3. Howland J, Rohsenow DJ, Allensworth-Davies D, et al. The incidence and severity of hangover the morning after moderate alcohol intoxication. Addiction 2008; 103(5): 758-65
  4. National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia 2009.
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