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Drinking Habits

Does Eating Sober You Up Fast?

March 21, 2024
13 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
March 21, 2024
13 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
March 21, 2024
13 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
March 21, 2024
13 min read
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Reframe Content Team
March 21, 2024
13 min read

Does Eating Food Help You Sober Up?

  • There’s a common thought that eating food while you’re drinking or afterward helps you sober up — and there’s science to support this claim!

  • Food does help absorb alcohol and can reduce some of the symptoms we feel when we’re buzzed or drunk, but it’s not a “cure,” and all food is not created equal. 

  • Reframe can help educate you about healthier options to drinking alcohol and guide you toward a better version of yourself.

We’ve all been there. We’re out at a work happy hour after a busy day, and after we’ve already thrown back a few beers, we realize we completely spaced on eating a proper meal that day. Eek! We snacked on a bag of peanuts while working through lunch and all we’ve had since then was a granola bar, which was not very satisfying.

Suddenly, we’re feeling more buzzed than we want to, and all we want to do is make the feeling stop. We down a large water and decide it’s time to head home. We have our driver stop through a fast-food joint on the way home, hoping a burger and fries will do the trick.

But does eating food actually help you sober up fast? Is there truth to this or is it just one of those things people say? Let’s unpack this topic together!

The Science of Alcohol Metabolism and Absorption

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First, let’s talk about the science behind alcohol absorption and how it’s relevant to the relationship between food and drinking alcohol. Alcohol absorption begins in our stomach and our small intestine. When we consume alcohol, it quickly passes through our stomach lining and enters our bloodstream where it is then transported to various organs and tissues throughout our body.

Only so much food (and liquid) can pass through at one time. When we have food in our stomach, alcohol passes more slowly, and we don’t absorb as much all at once. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, on the other hand, means our body absorbs the alcohol faster, so we feel the effects of alcohol faster, too. 

The rate of alcohol absorption depends on a few factors, including the concentration of alcohol we consume, the presence of food (if any) in our stomach, and individual factors like our weight and metabolism. In other words, everyone’s rate of absorption is different because everyone’s body is different. 

This might explain why we feel buzzed after one gin cocktail, but your friend seems to be able to sip martinis all night with seemingly no effects! Also, every drink is not created equal. In other words, one tequila shot and one beer may have the same amount of alcohol, but the concentration of liquor means that alcohol hits us all at once.

Being aware of our body and how certain foods and drinks affect us is the first step in being more in tune with ourselves.

Food and Drinking: The Facts and the Fiction

So, what about eating and drinking? Do certain foods help slow down the effects of alcohol or reduce hangover symptoms? The short answer is yes. It is true that having food in your stomach while drinking alcohol does slow down the rate of alcohol absorption like we touched on earlier. However, not all foods are created equal. What you eat and how much you eat are definitely important factors to keep in mind when you’re debating what to reach for. 

What’s The Deal With Greasy Foods?

We know you were wondering! It’s a common belief that greasy foods are some kind of magical “hangover cure.” 

While it is somewhat true that eating greasy foods before drinking or while drinking may help slow alcohol absorption, greasy foods can also upset our stomach or make us feel worse later. Unfortunately for fast-food lovers, this one is simply not true.

Like most food-body interactions, there is so much more to it. When we drink alcohol, our body experiences a variety of changes. This includes changes to the types of food we crave. Interestingly enough, alcohol intake encourages our brain to release galanin, a neurochemical that causes us to feel a craving for fatty or greasy foods. Hence, all those late-night fast food runs or pizza orders. 

The morning after, those galanin levels in our brain are still higher than normal, so we may feel that craving even more intensely. Ever wonder why a huge plate of hash browns and a breakfast sandwich with bacon sound so good? Bingo!

The good news is certain foods can help speed up the hangover recovery process. So, instead of grabbing a burger and fries the morning after and risking an upset stomach, avoid fatty, greasy foods (anytime, really), and opt for scrambled eggs or a smoothie instead. Check out our hangover 101 tips for more helpful advice.

Overeating in an attempt to fill our stomach is not the answer either! Overeating is not a healthy alternative and will likely make us feel full, bloated, nauseous, and all-around not great.

Healthy Food Options To Try Instead

So, now that we know what not to do in terms of foods that aren’t so great when we’re drinking or feeling hungover, here’s some guidance on healthier food options to choose before, during, and after we’re drinking alcohol.

Foods to consume:

  • Vitamin-rich foods such as berries and leafy greens
  • Protein such as eggs, chicken, fish, or tofu
  • High-fiber foods such as fruits and veggies or smoothies
  • Healthy grains such as whole wheat bread, oats, and brown rice.

Foods to avoid:

  • Processed and packaged foods
  • High-sugar foods and sweets
  • Fried foods
  • Soft drinks and sodas
  • Orange juice (high in sugar!)
  • Candy

Need more guidance on healthy food ideas? Here are some great food options for healing the liver or detoxing after a night of drinking.

Ways To Slow Down the Effects of Alcohol

Other Ways To Slow Down the Effects of Alcohol

Now that we’ve gotten the eating part down, how else can we slow down alcohol’s effects on our body? Here are a few more healthy tips on how we can sober up in a healthy way. 

  • Drink in moderation. The best way to avoid the negative effects of drinking alcohol is to practice moderation if you do choose to drink. Moderation means balance and is typically defined as drinking less than one alcoholic drink a day for women and fewer than two drinks a day for men. Here’s more advice on how to practice moderation.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, electrolytes, or another hydrating beverage like coconut water or unsweetened tea. Again, avoid sugary drinks and sodas, which can add to hangover symptoms like a headache. Also, check the labels! Some beverages we think are “healthy” are actually packed with sugar.
  • Wait it out. Sometimes, the best option is simply to wait it out and let your body run its course. This might mean staying at the party longer and helping your friends clean up, taking a walk around the block a few times, or calling a supportive family member or friend. 
  • Get some sleep. It may not always be possible depending on where you are, but getting some sleep is always a good option. Grab a cat nap on your friend’s couch or call it an early night if you need to. 

In Conclusion

So, the next time you’re faced with the food and drinking dilemma, we hope you feel equipped to tackle the situation with flying colors! Pro tip: keep a granola bar or apple in your bag at all times, just in case, so you’re always prepared. You’ll thank us later!

Summary FAQs

1. Does eating food help you sober up fast?

Yes, having food in your stomach before you drink or while you drink can help slow down the rate of alcohol absorption in your body. However, everyone’s metabolism rate is different, and the foods you choose to consume can also have an effect on your level of intoxication.

2. What are some good foods to eat before you drink alcohol or while you’re drinking alcohol?

Good foods to eat include proteins like chicken or fish, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates like potatoes, quinoa, or brown rice. Drinking plenty of water is also recommended.

3. What types of food should I avoid when I’m drinking?

Avoid foods that are sugary, fried, processed, or greasy, and avoid “junk” food in general. These can worsen the effects of alcohol and potentially make you feel worse later.

4. What are other ways to sober up fast?

Unfortunately there’s no quick way to sober up. The best options are to eat a solid meal, get some rest, drink plenty of water, and wait it out.

Ready To Be a Healthier Version of You? Reframe Can Help!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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