How to Hit the Gym When You're Hungover

·2-min read

Here beginneth the sermon. When you drink alcohol, you’re effectively poisoning yourself,’ says Pate. Booze also disturbs sleep, and, in a cruel irony, after all that drinking, you’re dehydrated. Safety should be in the forefront of your mind.

‘If you’re half-cut, wait until you’re sober before you do anything that could endanger you,’ says Pate. An early-morning session is out. Once your head is sore but clear, however, you’ve got the green light. The benefits are bigger than burning off your four pints: the rush of endorphins you get from exercise will help to rebalance your brain chemicals to combat alcohol’s depressive effect, making it a better salve than any bacon sandwich (you can have that afterwards).

Pate recommends something with ‘a little aerobic intensity, to remind your body that it still has to work’. Steady-state cardio is your order of the day. ‘Drink enough water: your urine should be clear,’ says Matt Gardner, a performance nutritionist and the host of the Big Feed Up HQ podcast. This will lubricate your joints and delay fatigue.

As for your pre-gym fuel, alcohol irritates your stomach lining, so resist the temptation to pile on the grease (not good for weight-loss goals, either) and stick to your normal breakfast. But factor in some, ahem, ‘gastric emptying time’. A protein- and fibre-rich
meal such as eggs on toast is great if you have time, but it takes a couple of hours to absorb. If you’ve got an hour or less before your workout, eat something quickly absorbed, like a banana.

The good news is that Boulder University has linked even light aerobic training to the reversal of alcohol-induced brain damage. Flagellating yourself isn’t healthy. But escaping your darkened living room is guaranteed to make you feel better: physically, mentally and spiritually.

How to Start a Workout When You're Hungover

  1. Cancel your morning session and wage a watery war on dehydration instead.

  2. Resume your normal diet if and when you can stomach it. Failing that, eat a banana.

  3. Aerobic exercise will protect your brain, as well as making you feel human again.

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