Are protein shakes good for hangovers?
I get it, there are days when you might overindulge a little and wake up in the morning with a fuzzy head and a very dry mouth. It’s days like those when everyone is always after that miracle hangover cure, that elixir which will stop your head pounding and still that weird queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach. Back when I used to drink, mine was raw tomatoes, coffee, and as many carbs as possible. I’m not sure it ever really worked.
In fact, I’ve never been certain that hangover cures work at all, you just need to drink a lot of water, wait for it to blow over and try to remember your limits next time. However, it does appear that protein might be able to help you get rid of your hangover.
Let’s begin with the very basics: A hangover is your body’s reaction to the introduction of too much alcohol. You might find yourself dehydrated, nauseous, and desperate to lie down in a dark room until the headache and photosensitivity go away. Plus, they’re different for everyone, as studies have shown that external stimuli, such as smoking or not getting enough sleep, can provoke different hormonal and immune responses to alcohol consumption (Penning et al., 2010).
Why is protein good for a hangover?
I’m so glad you asked. It basically all boils down to amino acids, the organic compounds which make up proteins and account for roughly 20% of the human body. Proteins are all made from different combinations of amino acids in chains, called polymers. When proteins are digested, these polymers break down into their constituent amino acids, which are much easier to absorb, and off they go to do their jobs! (Lopez and Mohiuddin, 2022)
Alcohol can prevent your body from absorbing certain amino acids, meaning that they cannot travel to where they need to be and are not used. Methionine, for example, is affected by alcohol consumption (Israel et al., 1969). It is also an essential amino acid, meaning that the body cannot produce it and it needs to be obtained through our diet. This particular amino acid is responsible for regulating metabolism, aiding in detoxification (ironically), and increasing the body’s ability to absorb other vital nutrients. So you can see why not being able to use this amino acid might be slightly problematic.
Drinking too much can lead to your body not taking in enough of these amino acids, and leaving you short, which prevents vital functions in the body from occurring and can leave you feeling a little less than optimal. This is why protein may alleviate hangover symptoms - by eating (or drinking) something with higher quantities of protein, we can replenish those lost amino acids.
Will my protein shake cure my hangover?
Unfortunately, research currently shows that there is no direct ‘cure’ for hangovers, except not drinking too much in the first place (Pittler, Verster and Ernst, 2005). Although, I imagine if there was such a thing, whoever invented it would be incredibly proud of themselves.
However, your protein shake may well be able to lessen your pain, especially if the thought of solid foods is a little off putting. What you’re looking for is a protein shake which contains as many essential amino acids as possible, is easy to digest and gentle on the stomach, and contains added vitamins and minerals so that you can put back what you may have lost the night before.
That’s where PERFORM comes in. Not only does it contain 25g of plant-based protein per serving which can be broken down into amino acids, that amino acid profile contains both Glutamic Acid and Alanine. Both of these help to boost liver function so that your body can deal with the remnants of last night’s alcohol more effectively. The plant-based hemp and pea protein found in PERFORM is packed with turmeric and digestive enzymes which will make digestion easier, meaning you can replace your lost amino acids even faster.
I think that’s about as close to a miracle cure as you’re going to get!
Can I add anything to my protein shake to help with my hangover?
There are a whole bunch of other foods which have also been shown to aid in hangover recovery, some of which can certainly be added to a protein shake for extra goodness! A pinch of turmeric, for example, may help to reduce the oxidative stress on the liver - but if you’re using PERFORM, then that’s already included, which is a win!
- Bananas: Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration and the loss of electrolytes. Blending a banana into a protein shake could help to replenish lost potassium (Roberts, 1963).
- Avocado: If you don’t like bananas, avocados can also provide a source of potassium and a rich, creamy texture to a shake. It can also help to protect your liver (Kawagishi et al., 2001).
- Coconut Water: Coconut water contains a whole host of electrolytes, so making a protein shake with coconut water will not only help to rehydrate you, it will give you back a lot of electrolytes! (Saat et al., 2002)
- SUSTAIN: Now, an intra-workout supplement might feel like the last thing you need when you’re hungover, but let me see if I can persuade you. Not only does Vivo Life’s SUSTAIN contain coconut water extract, it is specifically designed to help rehydrate you and replace electrolytes lost during exercise. Even better, it contains 7.7g of essential amino acids per serving!
In short, whilst a protein shake might not be able to cure your hangover instantaneously, it can certainly help put your body back on the right track. Combined with lots of water, some gentle exercise and a stack of veggies for dinner, and you’ll soon be feeling right as rain!
Pittler, M.H., Verster, J.C. and Ernst, E. (2005). Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials. BMJ, 331(7531), pp.1515–1518. doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7531.1515.
Penning, R., van Nuland, M., Fliervoet, L. a. L., Olivier, B. and Verster, J.C. (2010). The pathology of alcohol hangover. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, [online] 3(2), pp.68–75. doi:10.2174/1874473711003020068.
Israel, Y., Valenzuela, J.E., Salazar, I. and Ugarte, G. (1969). Alcohol and Amino Acid Transport in the Human Small Intestine. The Journal of Nutrition, 98(2), pp.222–224. doi:10.1093/jn/98.2.222.
Lopez, M.J. and Mohiuddin, S.S. (2022). Biochemistry, Essential Amino Acids. [online] PubMed. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32496725/.
Roberts, K.E. (1963). Mechanism of Dehydration Following Alcohol Ingestion. Archives of Internal Medicine, [online] 112(2), pp.154–157. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860020052002.
Kawagishi, H., Fukumoto, Y., Hatakeyama, M., He, P., Arimoto, H., Matsuzawa, T., Arimoto, Y., Suganuma, H., Inakuma, T. and Sugiyama, K. (2001). Liver Injury Suppressing Compounds from Avocado (Persea americana). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 49(5), pp.2215–2221. doi:10.1021/jf0015120.
Saat, M., Singh, R., Sirisinghe, R.G. and Nawawi, M. (2002). Rehydration after Exercise with Fresh Young Coconut Water, Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage and Plain Water. Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY and Applied Human Science, 21(2), pp.93–104. doi:10.2114/jpa.21.93.