Working Out Hungover. Yay or Nay?
Written by: Coach Slater
Workout hungover, they say. You’ll sweat out the toxins, they say.
Not so fast.
Working out to get rid of a hangover really isn’t a good idea. First, let’s look at what’s happening when you have a hangover. The modern research says that two chemicals called acetaldehyde and acetate are produced by your body when metabolizing alcohol, and these chemicals are toxic and pain-inducing. They’re the reason you feel drowsy, have concentration problems, dry mouth, dizziness, sweating, nausea, excitability, and anxiety.
The formation of acetaldehyde is complicated, but one thing important to know is that the process inhibits or diminishes two important enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Increasing these chemicals to their pre-drinking state appears to be the key to hangover recovery.
One thing NOT to take? Green tea. It’s often consumed as a lighter caffeine stimulant to ease our bodies back to normalcy, but green tea actually increases ADH levels and slows the removal of acetate.
Instead, Sprite and 7-Up are shown to increase ALDH activity, thanks to an common additive: taurine.
Gatorade or Pedialyte aren’t miracle cures, as they’re not any more effective than plain old water at rehydrating you, but your body does indeed need fluids; so, drink them if you wish. When drinking, an anti-diuretic hormone is suppressed, so your water balance is thrown out of whack by the frequent bathroom breaks. But, something with taurine is your best bet for reducing that low, dull pain you’re feeling.
Now, if you’re debating working out on a hangover, restrict your workout to a half-effort. You will inevitably get a slight endorphin rush from the workout, which will make you temporarily feel better. But, if you aren’t rehydrating before/during/after this workout, then you may be doing yourself a disservice by further dehydrating your already aching body. Use the workout to slightly raise your heart rate and get your muscles working to stimulate the release of those endorphins and even adrenaline. You’re not going to “sweat anything out” though. By morning, all of last night’s alcohol has already passed through your system.
Afterwards, get your body back on track by having a normal meal with protein, fats, and carbohydrates and a Sprite/7-Up. Then get some rest. You need it.
In Search of a Cure for the Dreaded Hangover, Scientific American
Role of Acetaldehyde in Mediating the Pharmacological and Behavioral Effects of Alcohol, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism