Mixing one’s alcohol, consuming too many sugary cocktails, and even so much the color of the liquor makes a difference in one's hangover. But what happens when we drink beer first and end with liquor? We've all heard the saying: beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, in the clear. Is this a tip we can carelessly rely on to have a few too many, or is it just a long-time myth that needs to retire?
Myth or Fact
While experts are not entirely confident in where the claim first came to be, they believe that it could have possibly stemmed from how we digest certain alcoholic beverages. Because carbonated drinks such as beer and sparkling wines/ciders are known to irritate and cause inflammation in the stomach lining, it increases the rate at which we absorb alcohol. In this case, those who drink beer first and then switch to liquor will most likely end up drinking more, resulting in a higher level of intoxication. On the contrary, those who drink liquor before beer typically don’t drink beer after. There isn't a significant amount of evidence against the claim that carbonation causes an increase in intoxication, though. Beer also has the lowest ABV (Alcohol by Volume) but a higher volume than a shot of liquor, raising the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) more slowly. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines follow:
- Regular Beer: 12 ounces, which is usually about 5% alcohol
- Wine: 5 ounces, which is typically about 12% alcohol
- Distilled Spirits: 1.5 ounces, which is about 40% alcohol
So, Why Are My Hangovers so Bad?
Although drinking beer irritates the lining of the stomach and liquor has a higher alcohol level, the truth is that it doesn’t matter what type of alcohol we drink. Alcohol is alcohol. “In reality, that has little effect,” said Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist at the New York University School of Medicine. He told the New York Times, “What matters most, she said, is the amount of alcohol consumed and whether it’s combined with any food, which slows absorption and minimizes sickness.” Regardless of the type of alcohol, it still digests the same through our liver and takes an hour to digest one drink. If you start to feel sick drinking liquor, try drinking beer or a similar alternative that has lower alcohol volume than liquor does. It will slow your body down and keep you from getting intoxicated as quickly.
How Can I Keep From Getting Hungover?
Although there's not much evidence supporting the ‘beer first, liquor second’ theory, the type of alcohol we drink or the capacity does not matter. Anyone can consume beer, wine, or liquor, but the truth is that alcohol is still a toxin that will make us sick, and there are only a few ways to fight off the flu-like symptoms. Eating nourishing meals that include protein and healthy carbs packed with vitamins and minerals will highly benefit the morning after a night out drinking. Also, drinking lots of water is crucial for anyone planning an alcohol-filled night. Drinking water before, during, and after the consumption of alcohol will drastically influence the severity of a hangover. While beer before liquor might work for some, it's not a foolproof system. If in doubt, spread the drinking out, slow down if needed, and listen to your body.