• Question: Does Bread Soak Up Alcohol when Drunk?

    Asked by millicent to katy, Lauren, Richard, Stuart on 16 Mar 2016.
    • Photo: Lauren Laing

      Lauren Laing answered on 16 Mar 2016:

      Hi! Great question! Although it sounds pretty logical that bread would soak up alcohol therefore preventing a bad hangover, bread does not “soak up” the alcohol in your system. In fact, scientists think that eating before drinking does nothing to prevent a hangover the next day. Instead, some scientist have shown that high protein foods help to slow the absorption of alcohol!

      Factors which will more likely effect how alcohol is absorbed include:

      – Medications: Some drugs and medications often have adverse effects and unpredictable interactions with alcohol.

      – Women vs. men: Alcohol affects women more quickly due to a typically smaller body size and weight than men. Also, women have about half as much of the enzymes used to metabolize alcohol than men do.

      – Smaller people vs. larger people: Smaller people have less body mass through which alcohol can diffuse, meaning there is more alcohol in their bloodstream. Therefore, they become more intoxicated quicker.

      – High stress mood states vs. relaxed mood states: Stress can cause the stomach to empty directly into the small intestine, where alcohol is absorbed even faster.

      – Higher proportion of body fat to muscle tissue mass: Alcohol is not drawn into body fat as well as it draws into lean muscle mass. Therefore, blood alcohol concentration is intensified in those with more body fat.

    • Photo: Richard Friend

      Richard Friend answered on 16 Mar 2016:

      Not quite. The way I understand it is that if you’ve got a full stomach before you go out drinking, your body is busy digesting the food as well as the alcohol, and it can only do so much in a certain amount of time, so it means the alcohol takes longer to get into your system, so you won’t get drunk quite as quickly. Also, if you’ve got a full stomach you can’t drink as much, or as fast, which would also slow the rate of getting drunk.

    • Photo: Stuart Atkinson

      Stuart Atkinson answered on 16 Mar 2016:

      Hi Millicent. Thanks for your question.

      The more food there is in your stomach (including bread!) the slower the alcohol will be absorbed into your blood stream. Some people describe that as the food ‘soaking up’ the alcohol. It doesn’t change how much alcohol goes through your system – your liver will still have to process it all eventually, but the alcohol and the food are both competing to be digested. I had a friend who was convinced that eating a couple of Pot Noodles was a good method of preparation before a session of drinking, but I’m not convinced! Maybe he should just have eaten a full roast dinner!

      Being full means that your peak alcohol blood level will take longer to achieve than if you had an empty stomach, and it will take longer to get drunk. Conversely, drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea as it feels like it goes straight to your head.