If experience has taught us anything, it’s that drinking on an empty stomach is a decidedly bad idea, as the risk of texting “hey u up” to your ex and/or waking up the next morning in Reno increases exponentially. But conversely, pregaming with a bunch of wholesome, real foods will help you drink more, stay up longer, ward off a hangover, and keep generally regrettable behavior at bay.
We spoke to three registered dietitian nutritionists and spokespeople for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to find out exactly what to eat before you go out drinking. Remember this list the next time you consider stuffing your pre-party face hole with a handful of rainbow Doritos and a Hot Pocket.
Not just a sad office lunch when you're too lazy to pack a meal like a real grown-up, yogurt is actually a great snack option before you go out. Top the creamy stuff with a sprinkle of granola, says Kim Larson, RDN, CD, CSSD, and you'll get all the important macronutrients in one dish: carbs, protein, and fat. It'll literally stick to your gut, as the food will digest slowly over four to six hours.
Put on a bathrobe and pour a glass of milk, but leave the coffee liqueur and vodka in the wet bar, because the cow's gift to humanity is actually good for you to pregame with on its own. That’s because milk is high in potassium, which “is lost with excess urination,” says Isabel Maples, RDN. It’s also made of 90% water, so it'll keep you plenty hydrated. And if anyone say drinking milk is childish, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
“Alcohol changes your body’s stores of glycogen, a quick energy source stored in the liver,” Maples says. Carbs help your glycogen levels stay full, as well as your stomach. The nutritionist suggests you pregame with pasta primavera, but no one’s gonna balk if you make these meatballs instead.
“Protein-rich foods take longer to digest, which slows how fast your blood alcohol level goes up,” Maples says. A chicken sandwich is the premier mix of protein and carbs—just make sure to select a “poultry portion that's about the size of your palm,” since only a small serving is necessary.
Sure, it’s a little tough to pronounce, but that’s irrelevant when discussing its protein and fiber power. A high-fiber meal that includes quinoa “slows the stomach’s emptying time, which helps ensure that alcohol’s effects don't sneak up and surprise you,” says Maples.
All the lazy people with nothing in their houses but cereal and milk are in luck. Not in luck in general because it must suck to live in a house with so few snack choices, but lucky because cereal tends to be fiber-rich, especially ones like Grape-Nuts, and that’ll “provide a good buffer for the alcohol, and will slow its absorption.” Larson recommends low-fat milk, because it’s healthy, and not because she thinks you’re fat.
The incredible, edible food that definitely came before the chicken is not only one of the best foods to cure your hangover, it’s also one of the best foods to eat before you do things that cause you to get one in the first place. That’s due to its “essential amino acids needed to help break down some of the alcohol,” according to King.