How to Hack Your Metabolism to Survive New Years’ Eve!

Most of us let loose at least once a year, so consider this post “just for fun.” But come January 2nd, I expect all of you to get back on track! Some of you will choose to drink no alcohol New Years’ Eve, and I want to applaud you in advance. But for those who are planning to imbibe: I thought you might appreciate some interesting tips about how to mitigate the effects of alcohol on your body.
So: Is there a way to drink without getting TOO drunk? Surprisingly, the answer is most definitely “Yes.” Using the same amount of alcohol, it turns out that some drinks will get you drunk faster, keep you drunk longer, and impair your judgment more severely than others. So here are three things you will want to know before you start drinking with your coworkers. Fructose: Your Liver’s Killer App As I explained in this post, it turns out that fructose, when taken in large doses (like in sugary drinks) is metabolized in your liver almost exactly the same way that alcohol is metabolized! It doesn’t get you drunk, but it does cause your liver to make more triglycerides, leading to what’s called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. So when I started writing a post about alcohol and the holidays, I expected to find that combining fructose with alcohol would be a disaster for your liver. What I found instead was something quite different: because your liver is forced to metabolize them both, fructose dramatically affects the metabolism of alcohol. It turns out this is a case where one toxin (fructose) can be used to alleviate the affects of another toxin (alcohol). Check this out: How to use Fructose to survive New Years’ Eve People who drink fructose along with their alcohol reach a lower peak alcohol level. And people who drink fructose within an hour after alcohol clear the alcohol faster—like, 40% faster! I found five separate human studies that verified this.

1.Oral Fructose-Induced Changes in Blood Ethanol Oxidokinetic Data Among Healthy Nigerians. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health, Vol 35 No. 2 June 2004 2. Fructose-induced increase in ethanol metabolism and the risk of Syndrome X in man. U.E. Uzuegbu, I. Onyesom / C. R. Biologies 332 (2009) 534–538 3. Effect of Fructose on Alcohol Concentrations in the Blood in Man. JAMA, Sept 14, 1970 Vol. 213, No 11 4. The Effect of Fructose on Alcohol Metabolism and on the [Lactate]/[Pyruvate] Ratio in Man. Alcohol & Alcoholism, Vol.26,No.1,pp.53-59,1991 5. Crownover et al. Activation of Ethanol Metabolism in Humans by Fructose: Importance of Experimental Design. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Vol. 236, No. 3, 574-79
The graphs all look fairly similar:
J Pharmacol Exp Ther, Vol. 236, No. 3, Fig 1 p. 575
As you can see, even when the person got multiple separate doses of alcohol, the time to metabolize each dose was much quicker after fructose. Imagine the possibilities! I could become a secret agent and drink just as much alcohol as my peers but become half as drunk for half as long! All I’d have to do is mix fructose with my drink, and then get another shot of fructose about 40 minutes later. So how much fructose do you need for this trick? In one study from Nigeria, they gave men and women 0.55g/kg of alcohol, which comes to about three-and-a-half shots of hard liquor if you weigh 155lbs. Then they tested the same people again, but this time after the alcohol they gave them 0.25g/kg (about 18g) of fructose. Check out the results:
CLICK TO ENLARGE. (a) = alcohol without fructose, (b) = alcohol with fructose.
From Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health, Vol 35 No. 2 June 2004, 476-80

The time it took for their Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) to reach zero was shortened from 5 hours down to 3 hours! An alcoholic drink–one shot, one 125mL glass of wine, one can of beer–has about 11g of alcohol. To recreate the Nigeria experiment, you’d need about 5g of fructose for every alcoholic drink you consume. So, if you get hit with a 6oz drink that is 4oz of mixer and 2 shots of vodka, you will need 10g of fructose to counteract the two shots of vodka. Excited at the potential, I started looking up how much fructose is in various drinks… …but a bit of math is required: These numbers are per 8oz, and most drinks use 4oz of mixer. So divide the grams of sugar by 2. That gives you grams of total sugar in your drink– but we need grams of fructose. So for the sodas, multiply by 0.55 because HFCS is about 55% fructose. For the fruits, I looked at orange and cranberry juice (since no one is putting grape juice in their drink) and

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found that cranberry juice has a very wide ranging and completely unreliable amount of

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fructose, with multiple variables: is it cranberry “juice” or “cocktail” and was it sweetened

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with other juices (in juice) or with HFCS (in cocktail)… unfortunately for our purposes, most of it tends not to be fructose. The sugar in OJ is a little more consistent at about 50% fructose. Result: Per 4oz of mixer, Sprite has 7.1g of fructose Coke: 7.7g OJ: 5.2g Not good enough! We need 10g of fructose per four ounces. So unfortunately, to be a secret agent you will have to have an extra two to three ounces of Sprite, or an extra 4oz of OJ in between your vodka drinks. (For my own peace of mind I have to mention here that this is the only post I will ever suggest you should drink soda.) I think your better move would be to just make everyone do shots and then chase yours with a solid 8oz of OJ… or add 1-2 teaspoons of pure fructose to your drink when no one is looking! At the very least, we have learned that instead of the old adage “have a glass of water between each drink” to avoid a hangover, you should have a glass of OJ. As long as you drink the OJ within 25mins of the alcohol, you’re covered. I shouldn’t have to say this, but to be clear: If you drink alcohol, whether with fructose or not, you WILL be impaired and cannot drive. OK now if your attention span is shot, go enjoy your New Years’ Eve with your new stealth tactics!

What about Champagne? It has long been rumored that the bubbles in champagne make you more drunk. Based on the studies that I have found, it doesn’t actually make you more drunk, but it does make you drunk slightly faster. Here is a nice study where they gave folks regular champagne vs. champagne from which they had removed the bubbles:
Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2003 Jul-Aug;38(4):381-5.
Ridout, F. et al. The effects of carbon dioxide in champagne on psychometric performance and blood-alcohol concentration.
As you can see, the bubbles do cause the alcohol to be absorbed faster, but 20 minutes later the non-carbonated drinkers catch up and the peak alcohol levels are the same. Alcohol plus Red Bull: Not a good choice for your office Holiday Party The effect of alcohol + Red Bull, vs. alcohol alone, has been studied in at least three papers since 2006. Conclusion: Unless your goal is to become the life of the party, don’t do it. All three studies showed that the participants who took Red Bull performed just as badly on all tasks of motor coordination and reaction time, but subjectively felt less drunk. In other words, the Red Bull made it harder for them to gauge whether they were making bad decisions. In addition, there was another effect worth noting. Check out this graph: “AmED” stands for ‘Alcohol mixed with Energy Drink.’ This graph looked at how “amped up” the participants felt. Interestingly, Red Bull plus alcohol made them feel more stimulated than either alcohol or Red Bull alone. In summary: alcohol plus Red Bull gives you a ton of energy with which to make all the bad decisions that you don’t realize you’re making, since you can no longer tell how drunk you are. The perfect combination for generating those memorable office holiday party photos!

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