Things guaranteed to give you a hangover

You wake up with a splitting headache, roiling stomach, and the inability to form coherent thoughts. Perhaps you overdid it just a little last night. "Never again," you swear to yourself for the 100th time, as you stumble off to the kitchen in search of a bottle of water and some breakfast. If this sounds like you, then check out our list of things guaranteed to give you a hangover (or make it worse). If you avoid them next time you go out for a few drinks, hopefully the aftermath won't be quite so brutal.

Smoking cigarettes

As if you didn't have enough reasons to quit already, smoking can actually make your hangover worse. A study done at Brown University found that people who smoke the same day they drink are more likely to have more severe hangovers (or even have a hangover at all) than people who didn't smoke. The study compared people who drank the same number of drinks, but one group smoked while the other did not. Additional research has shown that tobacco smoke contains acetaldehyde, which also builds up in your system when you drink and is linked to hangover symptoms. Other studies have shown that nicotine receptors in the brain are related to our subjective response to drinking. The study didn't narrow down whether nicotine alone is a contributing factor to hangovers, so the jury is still out on whether you can safely vape while you imbibe.

Eating healthy

Wait, what? How can making healthy food choices possibly be bad for you? Well, it's not bad for you, but eating super light or avoiding fats can compound your hangover later. Dieticians say that fatty foods stick to the stomach's lining longer, which slows down the absorption of alcohol — which may reduce the effects of drinking on your body. That doesn't mean you should binge on greasy pizza or Chinese takeout before a night on the town. Instead, look for healthy sources of fats and oils to eat for your pre-game. Try some pasta tossed with pesto; a salad with salmon, sunflower seeds, and a vinaigrette; or a turkey and avocado panini with chipotle mayonnaise. Your stomach (and your head) will thank you in the morning.

Sugary mixers

Next time you go out, consider nixing the soda or juice in your adult beverages. As any soda addict can tell you, sugar-filled or carbonated drinks contribute to dehydration. The carbonation also causes your stomach to empty faster than it normally does, which can affect your blood alcohol level. While dehydration alone doesn't cause hangovers, it does cause the wicked headache that frequently goes along with it. So next time you crave a whiskey and cola or vodka and cranberry juice, consider ordering the whiskey on the rocks or the vodka in a martini instead.

Forgetting to drink water

As previously mentioned, dehydration contributes to the splitting headache that frequently accompanies most hangovers. Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you urinate more often than your body actually needs to. As you expel water from your system, your body will become dehydrated unless you combat the effects with water. Place a liter bottle of water on your pillow so you remember to drink it before falling into bed later. Of course, if you typically don't make it to your bed before passing out for the night, it may be better to just drink water between rounds at the bar.

Skipping leg day

That's right: the amount you exercise can affect your hangover. The reason ties into the whole dehydration factor we just discussed. The body is 90% water, and people who work out have more muscle mass, which is more effective at storing the body's water. That means that if you're in good shape, your body will lose less water through the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Use this as motivation next time you're toiling away on the treadmill — you're actually preparing for your next pub crawl.

Pre-game pain relievers

It may seem like a logical idea to prepare for a hangover ahead of time by taking an over-the-counter medication for pain relief, but you're actually making things worse for your liver. The liver is what primarily breaks down the alcohol and clears it from your system. By adding an analgesic to the mix, you're making things harder on your liver. Now the liver has to break down the chemicals in the medicine in addition to the alcohol, which can make the process take longer. One especially important thing to remember: never mix alcohol and Tylenol. The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol), and when taken with alcohol, it can cause irreversible damage to your liver.

The color of your drink

It sounds ludicrous, really — who believes that something as unimportant as the color of their drink would cause their hangover? But actually, this is the most important factor in alcohol-induced hangovers (besides drinking too much ethanol in the first place). During the process of making alcohols, chemical by-products called "congeners" are created by the fermentation and distillation procedure. These congeners are a chemical mixture of impurities and often give dark beers and liquors their color. They also are sometimes purposefully added to alcohol to create certain flavors. High-congener beverages are known to cause worse hangover symptoms when compared to drinks with less of them. While present in light alcohols — like white rum, gin and vodka — congeners can be found in much larger quantities in dark alcohols, such as whiskey or stout beers. Additionally, you are much more likely to find congeners in lower-quality liquors than in higher-quality spirits, which have typically been distilled more times to reduce the amount of impurities. So next time you're ordering a drink, ask the bartender to reach for the top-shelf instead of the well liquor, and opt for light over dark rum.

What about mixing different kinds of alcohol?

We've all heard the "beer before liquor, never been sicker" piece of advice. While it's oft-repeated, this old drunk's tale isn't actually true. Studies have shown that mixing different kinds of alcohol doesn't necessarily cause or worsen a hangover. The myth is likely tied to the effect of the congeners that we just discussed. While mixing different kinds of alcohol won't make your hangover worse by itself, imbibing dark beers along with your gin and tonic — or whiskey and cola between rounds of pale ale — definitely will.