Ah yes, the month of December. Known for sugar and spice, and lots and lots of holiday parties. If you’re the type of person who likes to have a few beverages but still make it to the gym in the morning, then we’ve got the supplements to take before a night of drinking.
Before we get started, it’s important to understand what alcohol is, and the effect it has on your body so you can better support it through proper nutrition.
What we call alcohol is really ethanol (a type of alcohol). Its formed by the fermentation of plants and dense sources of carbohydrates like potatoes, rye, hops, or rice. It’s pretty rich in energy, containing about 7 calories per gram; good to know if you’re into counting your macros.1
Alcohol is absorbed through the entire gastrointestinal tract. The rate at which this happens, it is mainly dependent on how much food is in our stomach. Skip dinner and head straight to happy hour and you’re a lot more likely to feel its effects.1
What’s interesting to note is that ethanol itself isn’t the major toxin to our body. It’s alcohol’s metabolic by-product, acetaldehyde, that does most of the damage.1 The longer acetaldehyde stays in your system, the worse you feel.
Alcohol is a depressant to our central nervous system. It slows the rate at which our cells communicate to each other, and hello ‘Dutch courage,’ suppresses emotions such as anxiety and fear, as well as our reasoning and judgment.2
If you’ve ever suffered from a hangover before, you also know how dehydrating alcohol can be. Alcohol acts on our pituitary gland, suppressing the secretion of a hormone known as Anti-Diuretic Hormone. When this happens, our kidneys don’t get the signal to absorb water back into our body, but rather secrete it through increased urine output.2
Drinking also takes a toll on our liver. The liver is a primary storage organ for nutrients, a site of many metabolic activities, and one of our main pathways for detoxification. A night of drinking can deplete us of essential nutrients we need to remove alcohol from our body, exacerbating the cotton-mouth, head pounding feeling we experience the morning after.2
First thing is first. If you want to have a few drinks and still be healthy, you have to start with a good foundation. Eat clean, train hard, manage stress (without alcohol), and practice good sleeping habits. If you aren’t maintaining a healthy lifestyle, to begin with, no amount of supplements is going to fix your extra imbibing magically.
If you are going to drink it is also highly advised that you have a good meal, either before you head out, or while you indulge. Protein and fat are two macronutrients that are slowly digested by the stomach, which helps to moderate the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream.
It should also be noted that the dose and frequency of drinking make the poison. The best way to prevent a hangover is not to drink. But knowing that isn’t always realistic, at Reflex Supplements we advocate for responsible drinking, combined with healthy living.
Now that you understand how alcohol affects your liver and hydration status, you can better understand how these supplements support your body while you drink.
A type of algae, chlorella is a king among superfoods, containing an array of amino acids, phytonutrients, B-vitamins, and magnesium. A known detoxifier, chlorella has shown promise when it comes to reducing your hangover symptoms. Researchers at Sapporo Medical University found that consumption of 4 to 5 grams of chlorella before consuming alcohol resulted in a 96% reduction in the incidence of hangovers.3 You can find chlorella on its own (both pill and powder form), or as an ingredient in many green food powders.
A sulphur containing amino acid, NAC is a required substrate for the production of glutathione, a tripeptide chain (and mother of all antioxidants) that helps eliminate alcohol from the body.4 As we detoxify alcohol from our system we use up glutathione, but with enough NAC we are able to replenish our stores and keep the detoxification process moving along. Try taking NAC about 30 minutes before you drink to lessens alcohol’s effects 5
B-vitamins are a family of water-soluble vitamins that help with proper metabolism, nerve functioning, energy production, and the breakdown of alcohol in our system. When we consume alcohol, we quickly diminish the supply of B-vitamins in our system.6 This can slow down our detoxification pathways, and leave us feeling anxious and sluggish the next day. About an hour before you head out, take a high-quality B-complex. It doesn’t hurt to take a dose the morning after as well.
You may be tempted to hydrate after you’ve come home from the bar, but by that point, you’re already working in a deficit. Proper hydration should start before you raise your first glass of cheer, and continue throughout the entire night, right up until you turn in. We’re not here to disparage water in any way, but adding an electrolyte powder to you glass helps improve fluid absorption and replaced vital minerals that may be lost once your anti-diuretic hormone becomes suppressed (aka the seal becomes broken).
We hope you’re gearing up for a killer holiday season. If you’ve got more questions on how to keep it healthy this season come talk to us in store. Or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We are #ReflexNation.
Sign up for expert advice and be the first to hear about special offers!