We’ve all been there. You go out with your friends, have a few drinks, and wake up the next morning feeling like you’ve got a beach ball inflated in your stomach. This is caused by alcohol bloat, which can ruin your good time.
In this blog post, we will discuss ways to prevent alcohol bloat so that you can look and feel your best after a night of drinking. We’ll also talk about why alcohol causes bloating, how long it usually lasts, and how to get relief if it’s too late to stop it.
Why Does Alcohol Make You Bloated?
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to produce more urine than normal. This can lead to dehydration, resulting in your cells retaining water and becoming bloated to compensate for the imbalance.
Additionally, alcohol relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract and slows digestion, leading to gas and distention.
Alcohol bloating is caused by consuming too much alcohol, leading to inflammation and increased production of stomach acid. A distended stomach results in uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, pain, heartburn, and poor digestion. Your face may also appear puffy and swollen.
How to Prevent Alcohol Bloat
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from alcohol bloat. Here are a few tips:
1. Have a Light Meal Beforehand
Eating a meal before you start drinking can help slow the absorption of alcohol and reduce how bloated you feel the next morning.
Try having something with carbohydrates, like toast or a sandwich, before going for a night out. You can also include some protein and fiber-rich snacks, as these will help keep you full longer and reduce how much you drink.
2. Don't Eat Too Much Salty Foods
Salty foods like chips, pretzels, and popcorn cause you to hold on to extra water, which is why your pants feel tight after eating too much or drinking too many Bloody Marys.
If you’re planning on drinking alcohol, try to avoid these foods as much as possible. Instead, opt for healthier snacks such as nuts and cheese.
3. Do Low-Impact Exercises
If you've ever felt slightly bloated after a particularly intense workout, you’re not alone! As a natural response to sweating, your body retains water for a few hours after a vigorous sweat session, such as a long run or cycling class.
This post-workout slump is unavoidable even if you drank water throughout the class. To prevent this, do your cardio the day before and stick to low-impact exercises like yoga and pilates the morning of a big party.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Alcohol is a diuretic which means it causes your body to lose fluids quickly. To combat this, it’s important to drink lots of water to help flush out toxins from your system. It will keep you hydrated, thus reducing how bloated you feel.
Try alternating between drinks or having a glass of water before and after each alcoholic beverage. This will prevent you from becoming too intoxicated and help ease your hangover the next day.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking and drinking often go hand in hand, but smoking can contribute to alcohol bloat by increasing the gas trapped in your stomach when you swallow and inhale.
Toxins in tobacco products also cause inflammation in your stomach and intestines, causing discomfort. If you’re a smoker, consider cutting down or quitting altogether to reduce your risk of alcohol bloating.
6. Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Carbonation in beers and sodas adds to the feeling of being bloated and uncomfortable. The air can get trapped in your stomach, causing pain or the sensation that your belly is twice its size.
Stick to flat beverages or clear liquors, such as vodka or gin, with a sugar-free mixer. It's okay to have one Aperol Spritz before dinner, but if you want to spend all day drinking Cuba Libres on the beach, you should reconsider.
7. Drink Alcohol Slowly
One of the best ways to prevent alcohol bloat is to drink slowly. This allows your body time to absorb the alcohol, rather than it all hitting you at once.
Drinking slowly also reduces your risk of ingesting too much air into your stomach. Chugging your drinks too fast can lead to overconsumption, which causes alcohol bloating the next day.
8. Take Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help with bloating and digestion. Taking these supplements before and after drinking may help your body process alcohol better, improve gut health, and boost your immune system.
Consider adding probiotics supplements to your routine or eating yogurt, kimchi, and other fermented foods.
9. Exercise After Partying
After a night of partying, getting your body moving is important. A light jog or walk can help reduce bloating and keep you feeling good the next day.
Exercise increases blood flow and helps digestion, which can alleviate some discomfort caused by alcohol bloat. It also aids your body in the removal of toxins and releases endorphins.
10. Get Enough Sleep
Drinking alcohol can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, so be sure to get plenty of rest before going out.
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night. This will help your body more effectively process the alcohol, leading to less bloating the next day.
How Long Does Alcohol Bloating Last?
Alcohol bloat can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on how much you’ve had to drink. The length of time also depends on how quickly your body can metabolize the alcohol.
Generally, it takes about one hour for your body to break down one unit of alcohol, so if you’ve had four units of alcohol, it could take up to four hours for your body to process it.
The Best Drinks to Treat Alcohol Bloat
Sometimes, you indulge too much over the weekend and go to work sluggishly. Rather than showing up bloated with a serious hangover, try these quick fixes and get back to your old self.
Detox Lemonade Cleanse with Cayenne & Ginger
According to Jodi Greebel, MS, RDN, “Lemon water reduces bloating because it acts as a diuretic, which helps when you are retaining fluids.”
Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, wellness manager at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, says, "The capsaicin in cayenne pepper speeds up digestion by increasing the flow of digestive enzymes through your intestines.”
Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic with Green Tea
According to research, green tea may have a slight diuretic effect on the body due to the combination of antioxidants and polyphenols that help flush out excess water and sodium.
In addition, green tea contains caffeine, stimulating gastrointestinal tract movement and reducing bloating. Try this detox drink for a quick, easy beverage to help you debloat.
Cucumber and Watermelon Juice
This detox recipe is another excellent option for a faster way to debloat. The watermelon and cucumber in this drink are fresh with a high water content, excellent for replenishing fluids and easing gas.
Strawberry Basil Water
Strawberry basil water is a great way to rehydrate and flush out toxins. This drink helps to reduce alcohol bloat and supports your body’s natural detoxifying process.
Medical Treatments for Stomach Bloating
If you experience severe discomfort after drinking alcohol, you should consult a doctor to treat alcohol bloating.
They may prescribe an antibiotic to cure gastritis and minimize bloating or recommend H2 blockers, antacids, or proton pump inhibitors to lower stomach acid production.
Alcohol Consumption and Weight Gain
Women's recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories and 2,500 for men.
Alcoholic drinks are high in calories, which can lead to weight gain over time. If you're not careful with your alcohol consumption, you can quickly start packing on excess pounds, leading to that unattractive "beer belly."
Wine can range from around 120 calories per 5 ounces to over 150 calories for a dry dessert wine. Other types of alcohol, such as rum or vodka, contain 97 calories per 1.5 ounces. If you enjoy mixed drinks, expect to add over 500 calories.
How Much Alcohol is Safe to Drink?
According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the suggested daily limit for men is two drinks and one drink for women.
The amount of alcohol you can drink safely depends on several factors, such as your weight, how quickly you metabolize alcohol, and how often you drink.
Alcohol Bloat FAQ
What is the least bloating alcohol?
The type of alcohol you choose can affect how much bloating you experience.
Generally speaking, clear liquors such as vodka, gin, and tequila are the least likely to cause bloat because they are made from fermented grains or vegetables that don’t contain many sugars or additives that can contribute to bloating.
Darker alcoholic beverages such as red wine, whiskey, brandy, and dark rum may contain more sugars or additives that can cause bloating.
What can I mix with vodka to stop bloating?
Mix vodka with sugar-free mixers like tonic water instead of juice or cola. You can squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice for an extra kick.
Does alcohol bloating go away after you stop drinking?
Yes, alcohol bloating usually goes away after you stop drinking. However, the best way to avoid it in the first place is to drink responsibly and stay hydrated throughout the night.
But alcohol-induced gastritis is a different story. This condition is due to excessive alcohol consumption and can cause long-term stomach issues, such as bloating and stomach pain.
If you’re looking to prevent alcohol bloat this holiday season (or any time of year), follow these simple tips. And remember, even if you do end up bloated after a night out, it’s not the end of the world! Just drink plenty of water and get back on track with your healthy eating habits. Cheers to good health!