How do you rehydrate 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 rehydrate quickly.
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 you can rehydrate so that you can choose which way is most appropriate for you.
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
To understand what the best ways to rehydrate quickly are, we first need to go over how alcohol causes dehydration in the first place.
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 antidiuretic hormone (ADH). ADH is released by your pituitary gland, and in normal circumstances, signals to your kidneys to reabsorb water.(1)
Because alcohol blocks the release of ADH, 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.
With the science out the way, next up we’ll answer the all-important question of how to rehydrate quickly after drinking.
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, rehydrating slowly is the best approach. Even if its just plain water.
With that said, here are some of the ways which you can speed up rehydration:
1) Rehydration salts and solutions
Our preferred way of rehydrating quickly after drinking is using rehydration salts or solutions. You can find them in any health store or pharmacy. They contain specialized formulas used to prevent and treat dehydration caused by diarrhea or vomiting. However, they can be used for any cause of dehydration.
These solutions are mixed with water and commonly contain electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and potassium, as well as sugar. They can come in sachets or as effervescent tablets that you add to water.
The water and electrolytes facilitate rehydration quickly as well as replace some of the lost minerals from drinking alcohol.
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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 leave near a dedicated clinic.
Moreover, it’s very much excessive and it is unnecessary to have fluid 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 most of the minerals that you’ll find in the rehydration solutions mentioned above.
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 the recommended way for the reasons outlined above. The best way is to use rehydration salts or just drink plain 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 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 most 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.
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 and rehydrating over several 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 the most important decision. 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 salts and solutions. That said, it’s not necessary to rehydrate aggressively after drinking alcohol and doing so slowly over a longer period of time is the best approach.