Can You Eat or Drink Your Way Out of a Hangover?

By: Lauren Wicks

We did some digging to see if several long-advertised hangover cures actually help you recover faster from a night out.

Photo: Getty/G Stock Photo

We all know someone who swears by a half-gallon of Pedialyte or a favorite greasy breakfast sandwich to cure them of a nasty hangover. But do these "cures" actually help? We took a look into eight popular hangover remedies to see if there really could be some merit behind them.

Sports Drinks or Electrolyte Beverages

Drinks like Gatorade and Pedialyte are often touted as hangover cures due to their high electrolyte content. Alcohol dehydrates the body, and electrolytes like sodium and potassium do help promote hydration and water balance.

However, health experts generally agree that water is better than sports drinks for hydration unless you've been exercising for a prolonged period of time. Sports drinks and other electrolyte beverages are also often loaded with sugar, which isn't going to help your hangover! It's best to drink water after consuming an alcoholic beverage to help prevent dehydration and that nasty next-day headache.

The one exception here *may* be coconut water, as it possesses the same five electrolytes found in human blood—while Gatorade only offers sodium and potassium. But more research still needs to be done before we can tout it as a true hangover remedy.

Related: What to Do After You've Eaten Too Much Sugar

Brothy Soups

Bouillon-based soups are also considered a popular cure, due to having lots of salt and a decent amount of potassium. As it turns out, bouillon cubes contain little to no potassium—and a whole lot of sodium!

While it's great to get a nutritious, veggie-packed soup in your diet, it's probably not the best hangover cure out there. Some bouillon cubes have almost half a day's worth of salt, and that just might end up making you feel bloated, exacerbating the issue.

Fruit

A decades-old study found consuming fruit whole or in the form of fruit juice could help relieve hangover symptoms, and it's been a pretty popular hangover remedy ever since. It's long been thought that fructose can speed up alcohol metabolism in the body, but research shows it really can't affect symptoms of intoxication or hangover.

However, fruit will help give you energy, naturally hydrate the body and help you load up on important nutrients like vitamins B and C, as well as potassium. Reaching for a banana first thing in the morning or a produce-heavy smoothie will still nourish the body and give you some carbohydrates to power through the day.

Related: What to Eat the Day After an Indulgent Summer Night

"The Hair of the Dog"

We all know someone who chases a night of drinking with an ice-cold beer to avoid feeling hungover, but is that just an urban legend too? Science seems to say "absolutely."

A post from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center explains it best—drinking a beer in the morning may give you a nice buzz and distract you from your hangover symptoms, but you're really just delaying the inevitable. We're not telling you to avoid ordering a mimosa at brunch the next day, just don't think it's going to cure that headache!

Starches

Many of us think of bread, pasta or other starches "soaking" up the alcohol in our bodies, but it doesn't exactly work that way. While a slice of avocado toast won't absorb last night's round of cocktails, it may actually help you in other ways.

Starchy carbohydrates are usually bland and can be beneficial for preventing or relieving nausea symptoms, as well as keeping your blood sugar from dipping too low. Drinking alcohol can actually inhibit blood sugar regulation, so it's important to nourish your body with some healthy complex carbs.

Related: Cocktails That Aren't Sugar Bombs

Coffee

Coffee may seem more tempting to reach for than a bottle of water after a night of drinking, but that jolt of caffeine may backfire later. While it may temporarily relieve that "jet lag" feeling, coffee can be dehydrating, as it is a diuretic, so it's important to drink lots of water alongside your cup of Joe.

It might be worth rewarding yourself with a cup of hot coffee only after guzzling down a large glass of water. A cup or two won't hurt, as long as you're replenishing your body with more water and electrolytes.

Greasy Foods

That bacon, egg and cheese sandwich might seem like the perfect hangover cure because you're craving it. However, you don't have to completely abandon your dreams of eggy goodness the morning after drinking.

Opting for a healthier serving of eggs, alongside some whole-grain toast and avocado, instead of cheese and white bread could be a great way to give your body the nutrients you need after waking up hungover. Eggs are rich in a compound that helps produce glutathione—an antioxidant that helps break down toxic byproducts in alcohol. With the addition of complex carbs and potassium-rich avocado (OK, and maybe a little Everything But the Bagel Seasoning), your body will get the boost it needs to recover from a night out.

Related: Day-After Detox Meal Plan

Pickles

You may remember someone teaching you to take a shot of pickle juice to avoid a hangover back in college, but there's a lot more to curing a hangover than increasing your sodium intake. Pickles are extremely low in calories, carbs, fat and protein, making them a low priority for relieving a hangover.

Your body needs proper hydration and nourishment after a night of drinking, and pickles aren't going to do much to relieve any symptoms of headache, sleepiness or nausea. Feel free to ditch the pickle juice pre-game unless you just really love the salty, briny flavor.