Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

How does alcohol effect you?

Two weeks ago I was on a ski trip in La Plange, France. It was an unreal trip for both skiing and socialising. Part of our package was unlimited free wine and so it was only right to indulge in a glass or four.

Like me, the other 10 who were staying in the chalet also decided to treat themselves to the free wine. What I started to notice however, was that the majority of the lads – at some stage during the week – were getting a massive hangover.

I didn’t want to be the guy who kept saying I’m fine and then the next day be hit so hard with a hangover that I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow! But it never came, so I asked myself why?


There are a number of factors that affect alcohol absorption and getting hangovers the next day. These include age, weight, sex, current mood – to name but a few. Here are a few things to consider the next time you fancy having a few.

Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
If you enjoy a few drinks, then you would have heard this a thousand times. The reason behind it is simple. Around 20 per-cent of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and when you have no food in there, then it is absorbed into the blood stream even quicker. This is where I got a head start on the ski trip, I was burning off so much energy from skiing that I ate a lot of food, probably more than I should have but in this case it may have helped with the lack of hangovers.

Carbonated beverages, like beers make hangovers worse
The bubbles in beers and champagne can contribute to a hangover’s severity. If you drink bubbly drinks, [the gas] causes your pyloric valve to open. Thus, bubbly alcohol is more likely to quickly reach the small intestine, from where it is swiftly taken up into the bloodstream. Higher blood alcohol content is more likely to lead to intense hangover symptoms in the morning. This may be one time where I say the wine was a good choice.
Women have a higher risk of hangovers than men

A lot of the girls on the trip did suffer really bad from hangovers. The body’s water content is to blame for this. While all humans are roughly 80 percent water, this varies between the sexes. As a percentage, women have less body water due to the fact that they have more body fat (which holds less water) while men have more muscle (which is made up mostly of water). This means that if a man and a woman who weigh exactly the same drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman will always have a higher blood alcohol content because there’s less water to dilute it.

Your brain is dehydrated
Keeping myself hydrated during the day and even while drinking is one habit that I stuck to while skiing. You get your banging headache from a hangover as alcohol suppresses the hormone argenine vasopressin, which conserves water levels in the body.
Without argenine vasopressin there to regulate things, more water gets lost in urine, causing the body’s water levels to drop resulting in dehydration.

How fit and healthy you are
Skiing is a physical demanding holiday but the fitter and healthier you are to ski, recover and enjoy the après ski … you less you’ll from a hangover.
Lack of sleep, aching muscles and the body’s inability to function from the toxic alcohol consumption are all factors that can result in that dreadful hangover.

These are just some ways to help prevent you suffering from a hangover.


However if you’re on a short term goal or want a lifestyle change then cutting way back on your alcohol intake or not drinking at all, would be the best course of action.

If you are going to drink then just think how you can better prepare yourself pre, during and post your ‘session’.

Read the full story in this week’s paper, available in your local newsagents today or subscribe to our Digital Edition by clicking below