British Liver Trust
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Eating before drinking alcohol

I struggle to stomach alcoholic beverages after eating a heavy meal so when I want to drink, the best I can manage is a light meal. But I am concerned what impact this might have. I know the more food you have in your stomach prior to drinking reduces the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodsteam but does eating less food before drinking have a worse impact on the liver? I am thinking because I can only manage a light meal, I will have less food in my stomach so alcohol will be absorbed faster and does it mean my liver can get more damaged as it has to work harder since alcohol is absorbed faster?

5 Replies

If your liver is already damaged, you should be eliminating alcohol altogether, not trying to figure out what the safest way to consume more is. There is no safe amount of alcohol for anyone with liver disease or impaired liver function.


My liver isn't damaged and I am not a heavy drinker. I just have health anxiety and don't want to sacrifice the occasional drink if this is what the impact is.


Because you asked if your liver could "get more damaged," I assumed you meant than it already is. If you are generally healthy with no clinical or lab indications of liver impairment, light social drinking shouldn't pose a problem. It is thought to be safest to consume alcohol with a protein; I'm not sure the amount makes much difference. It's also important to drink lots of water with alcohol, and you can consider taking NAC before imbibing.


Hi George, sadly I think you've come on the wrong forum for advice on safe drinking practice - I know you are looking at ways of lining your stomach before drinking to slow down alcohol absorption and limiting the damaging effects alcohol potentially has on your liver BUT there really is no safe way.

Alcohol in all its forms is a pretty serious toxin. There are government issued recommended limits for weekly intake but even these are potentially too high.

I've read your other posts and there is no hint that you have been told you already have issues with your liver (if you had then i'd be giving the same advice as Diane i.e. no alcohol is safe, no matter the quantity & no matter how you try to line your stomach etc.).

However, I get it that you are young and you still want to socialise with friends and on these occasions have a drink or two (from what i've read of your posts you don't drink heavily) but there are potential issues for yourself in what you have posted.

I understand you have been having a bit of a battle with weight loss and also confidence and depression issues & have previously used prescribed anti-depressant medications for long periods. Alcohol is a potential enemy for you here. Alcohol is empty calories, if you are trying to loose weight at the same time as drinking then it isn't going to help you at all. Alcohol is also a depressant drug so counter productive to a battle against anxiety/depression.

Also, obesity or being over weight can lead to issues with the liver itself in that you can get a condition called 'fatty liver' where fat globules build up in the cells of the liver, if this persists for any length of time the cells can become damaged triggering the liver to try and heal itself with fibrous tissue which in turn over time can lead to irreversible damage (cirrhosis). Any hint of Fatty liver will be exacerbated with alcohol and could in the long run lead to serious liver problems. Long term use of medication could potentially have also put your liver into a fragile state.

I think I would ask myself is the alcohol really needed whilst I am trying to loose weight and trying to look after myself? If you still do want a sociable drink i'd consider reducing even more the quantity you take on an average night out - intersperse alcoholic drinks with a glass of water (0 calories, 0 alcohol) - try tonic water and lemon - still looks boozy to your mates and yet is doing you zero harm whilst also reducing your alcohol intake. There are also some pretty good zero alcohol drink options out there but the calorie content maybe quite high.

Fatty liver is reversible with a sensible diet, good degree of exercise and generally looking after yourself. If you start now you may never even get that condition.

Do look after yourself George but at the same time grab life with both hands and run with it, none of us know what is around the corner for us.

All the best young man,

Katie xx


drinking on an empty stomach is likely to cause Gastritis, ulcers etc. But regarding Liver issues, even if you start drinking after a healthy meal it will likely only take a little longer to get drunk. It wont really affect the Liver much differently if you got drunk on a pint of vodka or a couple of bottles of wine, you will still drink the same units. So 20 or so units on an empty or full stomach is still 20 units the Liver has to deal with.

whilst I have never thought people shouldn't drink at all, when your young it wont do too much harm to get well oiled once or twice a week. But as you get older you need to tone it down and have longer breaks with no alcohol.

you are doing the right things by being curious about alcohol and its affects, just keep an eye on your units and have plenty of off time, 6 month breaks here and there. Get a once yearly blood check just to be sure things aren't starting to struggle


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