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4 Secrets "Smart Drinkers" Know About Preventing Hangovers

You can't cure a hangover, but smart drinkers know how to avoid one.

When a person turns 21, if they choose to drink, there is usually a learning curve with alcoholic beverages. With the help of friends, family—and the occasional painful hangover—a person learns to be a "smart drinker." What this means is that they learn to drink moderately in such a way that they never wake up with painful hangovers or regret. Because, in the world of hangovers, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Essentially, it's a lot easier to prevent a hangover than cure one.

A recent survey commissioned by Casa Azul Tequila Soda of over 1,000 drinkers found that most (65%) claim to know the secrets behind being a "smart drinker" and avoiding a hangover. Here are their tips:

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Pace yourself.

wine beer liquor

Almost half of the respondents said that pacing themselves was the key to preventing a hangover. That means no more than two drinks per hour—depending on height and weight. A standard drink is one 5-ounce glass of wine (12% ABV), one 12-ounce can/bottle of beer (5% ABV), 8 to 10 ounces of malt beverages like some hard seltzers (7% ABV), or 1.5 ounces of a spirit (40% ABV).

Since the advent of canned cocktails and wide variations in the ABVs of popular beers, you need to carefully check labels to see how much you are consuming. If you want to drink more, consciously choose low alcohol-by-volume alcoholic beverages.

Opt for low-volume alcoholic beverages.

Saying no to more alcohol

In the poll, three in five people said they actually preferred low ABV drinks because they help them drink at a better pace. Take a peek at the ABV of your favorite wine, beer, or canned cocktail and adjust your intake accordingly. Although, as you'll see, the ABV of a drink doesn't tell the whole story since the portion and the speed at which you drink matter just as much. Also, be cautious about the ingredients in your drinks as you could end up consuming far more calories and sugar than you intend. Here's a look at some canned cocktails to skip.

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Eat before you drink.

wine and cheese

A significant 45% swear by a meal before drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach is dangerous for several reasons, as we've explored before. You will become intoxicated faster, true, but you'll also spike your blood sugar, and deal with hunger pangs when your blood sugar crashes. Plus, you could have a worse hangover.

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Skip the darker spirits.

glass of bourbon on the rocks

Self-proclaimed smart drinkers avoid drinks that are high in sugar and cogeners. While studies show that it's the ethanol in the drink that has the most effect on hangovers, they also suggest a connection between high congener spirits, like bourbon, and the intensity of hangovers. Darker spirits and red wine tend to have more congeners, so think clear when choosing an alcoholic beverage.

In the end, knowing how a particular drink will affect you, is the real key to being a smart drinker.

Meaghan Cameron
Meaghan Cameron is Deputy Editor of Restaurants at Eat This, Not That! Read more about Meaghan