For some people, there’s nothing like the taste of a loaded bagel and the caffeinated buzz of an extra-large coffee after a night of drinking. Others would rather stick to gulping down bottles of water and popping ibuprofen as soon as they wake up to ward off symptoms of a hangover.
But here’s the thing: While there are a handful of quick-fix “tricks” said to sober you up fast after a night of drinking, most of the so-called “tried and true” methods don’t actually work. The only true way to sober up after a cocktail or five, is to, unfortunately, wait it out.
Ergo, if you thought these things would sober you up in a hurry, they won’t.
(Photo by Christopher Flowers)
1. Greasy meals won’t rebalance your blood sugar levels
If your go-to breakfast after a night of drinking is bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel, or order of french fries dipped in a chocolate shake, here’s some bad news.
If you’re going to treat yourself to a slice of pizza or to-go burrito, the right time to do so is actually prior to drinking, Alexis Halpern, MD, emergency medicine physician at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center told Refinery 29. Heavier meals make it so that the body has to spend more time and energy breaking up the food, Halpern explained, meaning the alcohol you drink after the fact will take longer to settle into your bloodstream.
However just because junk food is definitely heartier than, say, a salad, that doesn’t necessarily mean before a night of drinking you shouldn’t at least try to work in some nutritious options.
“If you give your body back the things that it needs and the things that it loses when you drink, you’re going to feel better no matter what,” Halpern said, so foods that are high in protein, zinc, vitamin B, potassium, and even foods that have a high water content are great options.
2. Sugary sports drinks aren’t super helpful, either
Samir Zakhari, Ph.D., director of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism told Men’s Health that even though your body loses electrolytes when you drink, there’s really no dire need to replenish them ASAP post-partying.
But if you’re not the type of person who enjoys drinking a ton of water, and is willing to spend a little extra cash, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, told INSIDER that Pedialyte helps “replenish lost electrolytes including sodium, potassium as well as keep your blood sugar level up, since heavy alcohol consumption could lead to low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia.”
3. Painkillers can cause an upset stomach when mixed with lingering alcohol in the body
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), mixing alcohol with painkillers can lead to a variety of symptoms, but the severity of these symptoms depends on the type of medication you take.
Oftentimes people will pop a pill after a night of drinking to nurse a hangover headache, but according to the NIH, many pain relievers can cause “stomach upset, bleeding and ulcers, liver damage (acetaminophen), and/or rapid heartbeat.”
Before mixing alcohol with any medicine (or taking them right after drinking), it’s important to do your research and speak with a medical professional.
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4. Coffee will make you even more dehydrated
How your body responds to caffeine after a night of drinking will ultimately depend on how much you regularly drink it sober.
If you’re a routine coffee drinker, Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, told INSIDER drinking about 24 oz of coffee can help avoid withdrawal symptoms.
However, if you’re not a routine coffee drinker, downing a large cup or two of the stuff could worse or cause headache, and may also lead to increased dehydration as coffee is a mild diuretic.
In the Channel 4 program Food Unwrapped, Tony Moss, a professor of addictive behavior science at London South Bank University, reiterated this point and said that coffee will not help you sober up.
“We know from wider research that coffee isn’t an antidote to alcohol,” he said. “Taking coffee is a stimulant that will reverse that feeling of being slightly tired as your blood alcohol is coming down. The only thing that’s going to sober you up in that respect is a bit of time.”
(Photo by Markus Spiske)
5. Too much protein can lead to headaches
If you only eat foods high in protein, without including any complex carbohydrates, Derocha said this will “negatively affects an already low blood sugar level,” leading to “a headache or make an existing headache worse.”
Rather than clinging to one food group to sober you up, Derocha told INSIDER it’s important to eat well-balanced, healthy meals after consuming alcohol, as your body needs a slew of nutrients that work together to help it recover.
(Photo by John Fornander)
6. Cold showers slow down the sobering process
Cold showers might wake you up, but they won’t sober you up. Think of it this way: In order to sober up, your body needs to relax. Dousing yourself in cold water accomplishes the exact opposite.
Dr. Niket Sonpal, a New York-based internist, gastroenterologist, and an adjunct professor at Touro College told INSIDER cold showers “raise your awareness and alertness by shocking your body with ice-cold water sending signals to your brain to wake up.” When this happens, he explained, your brain and body become stressed, making you feel worse.
“Instead, take a shower with warm water and relax,” he said. “Your body will need to run its process to process all the alcohol in your bloodstream.”
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.