Can ‘Pre-Hydrating’ Really Help Prevent a Hangover?

Photo: Stocksy/Dejan Beokovic
As strong as your wellness game may be, we all tend to have a spot or two where we toe outside the lines of our vision of a healthy lifestyle. For instance, you might eat lots of fruits and veggies… but could use some help in the stress management department. Or maybe you take hot girl walks on the daily… but also can’t resist polishing off a bottle of wine once you clock out each Friday—and, like clockwork, wake up with a pounding headache, body aches, and dry mouth each Saturday morning.

On this last point, you (all of us?) may be wondering if there’s a foolproof way to bypass said hangover symptoms—and one of the tricks might be to slay your hydration game before imbibing. To see if ‘pre-hydrating’ has the potential to stop a dreaded hangover in its tracks, we asked Kim Rose, RDN, CDCES, CNSC, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Florida, for her expert intel.

Experts In This Article

Is pre-hydrating before drinking alcohol the ultimate hack to prevent a hangover?

“The human body is composed of approximately 60 percent water, and excessive alcohol intake can lead to dehydration,” Rose says. It’s important to remember that alcohol is a diuretic—meaning it revs up the excretion of water from the body. Too much water loss without replenishing it can lead to dehydration, which can compound a hangover (and then some).

Now, for the main question of the day: Will downing H2O before enjoying a cocktail, glass of wine, or whatever your adult beverage of choice may be *really* help prevent a hangover? In one word: perhaps. “While no research supports the notion that drinking water before drinking alcohol can prevent inebriation, drinking a glass or more of water alongside every alcoholic drink can help rehydrate the body, which may result in milder hangover effects,” Rose says. And of course, whether or not you’re going to sip on alcohol, staying consistently hydrated is essential to support everything from your immune system to your mood, mental health, energy levels, and more.

An RD’s tips for staying hydrated (whether or not you’re drinking alcohol)

Again, while pre-hydrating before drinking alcohol may mitigate the effects of a hangover, rotating your alcoholic bevs with water is another expert-approved hack to make the next day more pleasant and less painful. With that said, your best bet will be to make hydration a priority day in and day out.

While recommendations for daily water intake vary by the source and due to a host of factors, Rose offers a baseline suggestion that can be helpful—especially if you know you don’t down enough H2O. “As a general rule, the National Academy of Medicine suggests 13 eight-ounce cups of water for healthy men, and nine eight-ounce cups for healthy women,” she explains. Yet again, there are many variables to consider that will influence the ideal intake much more so than sex alone. For instance, Rose cites the temperature of the environment, altitude, your physical activity, and age as just a few of the many.

Pivoting back to alcohol and hydration, your drink of choice may also influence how much H2O you should aim on the day you imbibe. “For example, the consumption of a more concentrated alcoholic drink—for instance, a mixed drink versus red wine—may warrant a greater increase in water intake,” Rose says.

Rose also takes care to note that it’s not just how much water you drink daily that matters, but also how much you drink throughout the day. (Read: Chugging a liter or two at nightfall to make up for water loss earlier in the day won’t quite balance things out—not to mention doing so will likely hinder your sleep quality if you need to make twilight trips to the bathroom.) “Since water is lost through sweat, exhaling, and the gastrointestinal tract—to name a few—it is best to sip on water as soon as you wake up in the morning,” Rose reminds us. “During waking hours, consider it a best practice to drink fluids gradually throughout the day.”

“Since water is lost through sweat, exhaling, and the gastrointestinal tract—to name a few—it is best to sip on water as soon as you wake up in the morning,” Rose reminds us. “During waking hours, consider it a best practice to drink fluids gradually throughout the day.”

The bottom line

All things considered, pre-hydrating before drinking alcohol certainly isn’t a bad idea—and doing so may potentially save you from a gnarly headache, nausea, and the like the day after. However, the best thing you can do to stay hydrated, whether or not alcohol is involved, is to make consistent hydration a built-in component of your daily routine.

If you’re the type to pass up on H2O because its flavor isn’t to your liking, Rose suggests finding a source that you actually enjoy drinking. “Depending on the source, water can have an off taste,” says Rose. “Good-tasting water makes proper hydration easier before, during, and after a night of drinking alcoholic beverages.”

So if you’re on a mission to keep hangovers at bay *and* level up your greater hydration game, Rose recommends investing in Berkey Filters for home use. “They naturally remove over 99.9 percent of viral, pathogenic, pharmaceutical, and other contaminants, which creates water that tastes good while leaving its natural minerals intact,” she says. Cheers to that.

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