Whether it’s a birthday toast, or it’s time to let loose on a Friday night, drinking with friends can be a great time or a total disaster, depending on how you drink. If you’re not looking to go overboard, and just want to keep a nice buzz, there are a few things you can do.

Hydrate Before and During

Keeping plenty of water in your system helps stave off a hangover and helps your stomach make it through the night. The old rule of thumb of one glass of water for every drink isn’t a bad way to go. It’ll keep you hydrated, and keep you from drinking too much at once.

Eat a Cheeseburger

Well, eat anything with decent amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The key is to slow your stomach down. The rate at which your stomach digests and passes everything on to the small intestine is one of the biggest determinants of how fast your body absorbs alcohol. If you’re going for a buzz, you want slow and steady. Eat a real meal, and keep eating as you keep drinking.

cheeseburger and fries
Don't worry, carbs and fats come in many delicious forms.

Chill Out

Speaking of your stomach, make sure you’re not stressing out. Stress tends to speed things up when it comes to your digestive tract, so if you want to slow down alcohol absorption from your stomach, you need to chill out. Getting plenty of rest helps, too.

Eat Some Yeast

Yes, really. Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch claims the secret to making it through beer-tasting binges with a clear head is active dry yeast. He downs a teaspoon before every beer he drinks. The microbes that make your bread rise also produce enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases that break down alcohol. When the yeast gets to work in your stomach, there’s a lot less alcohol headed toward your bloodstream.

Activated dry yeast
Activated dry yeast

Pick Your Poison

What you drink matters. Carbonated drinks move through your stomach faster, so avoid mixing alcohol with soda or, yes, drinking champagne or other bubbly wines. Drinks with higher alcohol content deliver more alcohol at once, making slower absorption into your bloodstream a lot harder. There’s a reason “session” beers are low in alcohol.

Photos via Getty Images / Scott Olson, Wikimedia Commons, Getty Images / Philipp Guelland

Kelsey Kennedy is a science journalist from Oregon, now based in New York City. She's written about science, technology, and the environment for Quartz, Undark, and Scienceline.