Published on April 20, 2019
When we consume alcohol, our blood alcohol level can rise very quickly.
When that happens, a metabolic regulatory mechanism kicks in and our pituitary gland stops releasing one of the hormones that it stores up – a hormone called “anti-duretic hormone” or ADH. When ADH is blocked, our kidneys know to start increasing the release of water from our body in the form of increased urination. Unless we compensate for this increased loss of water, we will become dehydrated.
The metabolism of alcohol also interferes with our water balance in other ways, all of which leads to increased dehydration, and dehydration is a contributing factor to hangovers.
It is also important to take into account the strength of the alcohol. A glass of wine containing 14% alcohol challenges a person’s metabolism (and hydration level) more than a similar glass with 10%. The amount of dehydration caused by a specific amount of alcohol will vary from person to person.
However, what’s true for everyone is that larger amounts of alcohol always cause greater dehydration than smaller amounts. What’s also true for everyone is that even mild dehydration slows the metabolism, which leads to weight gain.