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How do you rehydrate quickly after drinking alcohol? If you’re asking this question, you probably know that alcohol causes dehydration and you’re trying to find the best way to do this.
It’s a sensible thought and there are many different ways in which you can rehydrate quickly after drinking.
In this article, we’ll look into all the ways rapid hydration can be achieved so you can choose which way is best suited to your goals.
Before we do so, we’re going to take a closer look at why alcohol causes dehydration and more importantly, when to rehydrate after drinking.
How does alcohol cause dehydration?
Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you produce more urine. It does so by blocking the release of a hormone in your brain called vasopressin.
Vasopressin is released by your pituitary gland, and in normal circumstances, signals to your kidneys to reabsorb water.(1)
Because alcohol blocks the release of vasopressin, it means your kidneys flush out more water. As a result, drinking alcohol without rehydrating properly can lead to dehydration. You can read more about this in our article on alcohol and dehydration.
How to rehydrate quickly after drinking
Before starting this section, it’s important to note that in most cases, there’s no real need to rehydrate quickly after drinking. Taking your time, and rehydrating slowly is the best approach. Even if it's just plain water.
With that said, here are some of the ways in which you can speed up rehydration:
1) Rehydration mixes
Our preferred way of rehydrating quickly after drinking is using rehydration mixes.
Rehydration mixes contain a specialized formula that contains a specific ratio of electrolytes, minerals, and sugar to facilitate rapid hydration.
This mix is known as an oral rehydration solution (ORS) and the world health organization promotes its use in diarrheal illnesses.(2)
But the underlying principles are the same for all causes of dehydration which is why an ORS can be used after drinking too.
2) IV drip
The quickest way to rehydrate quickly after drinking is with an IV drip. Having a cannula inserted into one of your veins and a liter of fluid flushed through in less than 1 hour can’t be beaten.
That said, it’s very expensive to do. There are clinics that charge upward of $250 for one IV bag. They are invasive requiring you to have a needle inserted into a vein. And they are not easy to get hold of unless you happen to live near a dedicated clinic.
Moreover, IV fluids are very much an excessive way of rehydrating quickly. In other words, It is unnecessary to have IV fluids after drinking alcohol. Quickest is not always the best way.
3) Energy drinks
So-called energy drinks like Gatorade are also a great way to rehydrate quickly after drinking alcohol. They contain some of the minerals that you’ll find in the oral rehydration solutions mentioned above.
In addition, they are often packed with sugar which is not normally a good thing. But if you've not eaten for several hours, it's a quick and easy way to lift your sugar levels.
Furthermore, they are the cheapest option as well as the easiest to obtain. That’s because you can walk into any store to pick one up.
In summary: IV drips are the quickest way to rehydrate after drinking. But it’s not recommended or at all necessary to go this route. The best way to rehydrate is to use rehydration mixes or just have frequent sips of water over a longer period of time.
Things to avoid
Now that you know the quickest ways to rehydrate after drinking, there are a couple of things you may want to avoid:
Caffeine is a diuretic like alcohol. It makes you produce more urine. That’s why coffee or caffeinated energy drink should ideally be avoided.(2)
If you’re picking up an energy drink to rehydrate after drinking alcohol, make sure to check the label as some will contain caffeine.
2) Drinks with any alcohol
It may seem like an obvious point, but often people switch from hard liquor to, for example, beer in an attempt to rehydrate. Just because it has a lower percentage of alcohol and a larger volume of fluid, doesn’t mean it will rehydrate you.
When to rehydrate after drinking alcohol
One of the most important questions to ask is when to rehydrate after drinking alcohol.
If you’re reading this article and you’re already hungover, trying to rehydrate at this stage is damage limitation at best. By the time you’ve got a hangover, the damage caused by alcohol has been done.
That’s why the best time to rehydrate after drinking alcohol is while you’re still drinking or straight after.
By that we mean, drinking a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage or making sure to rehydrate properly as soon as you've stopped drinking.
It’s also important to realize that if you have alcohol in your bloodstream, it’s still going to cause excess water loss from your kidneys.
Therefore, taking your time after a night out to rehydrate over a few hours is by far the best approach. That way, your liver is clearing the alcohol from your bloodstream while you continue to rehydrate.
How to rehydrate quickly after drinking: Final words
That brings us to the end of our look at how to rehydrate quickly after drinking alcohol.
When you decide to rehydrate is more important than how fast.
Making sure you drink water between each alcoholic drink and also straight after your night out is key. Otherwise, you run the risk of waking up with a hangover and all the symptoms of dehydration that come with it.
The best way to rehydrate quickly is to use rehydration mixes or take frequent sips of water over a longer period of time.
It's really not necessary to rehydrate aggressively with an IV drip. There's a good reason why it's usually reserved for hospitals!