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Does coffee sober you up? Alcohol myths busted

Lesley Dobson / 10 December 2014 ( 19 December 2016 )

Think you know the answer to how much alcohol remains after cooking? Read our alcohol myth buster and find out if you're right.

Glass of red wine with food
Having a meal before heading to the pub can be a good idea

Myth: A couple of drinks are a real pick me up

Truth: Alcohol has a depressant effect. Rather than making you feel better it slows down your reaction time, your reflexes and affects the speed at which you think.

10 great ways to lift your mood

Myth: Coffee will sober me up

Truth: A cup of coffee may make you feel more alert, because of the caffeine it contains, but it won’t sober you up, or get rid of a hangover. According to Alcohol Concern it may affect your ability to make sensible decisions. So you may feel it’s okayto drive your car, because you may not realise that you’re still drunk.

How tea and coffee affects your health

Myth: Women can tolerate drink just as well as men

Truth: Women don’t tolerate alcohol as well as men, because their bodies have a lower water content. Women’s body water content is 52% compared to 62% for men. It means that men have a greater capacity for diluting the alcohol in their system.

Myth: Drink lots of water before you go to bed – you’ll be fine in the morning

Truth: Drinking water after you’ve had alcohol can help prevent dehydration, and so may mean a milder hangover. However, water won’t reduce the effects that alcohol has on your liver, and the rest of your body. And it won’t make you less drunk, so don’t think it’s safe to drive. However, drinking water between alcoholic drinks can help slow down your intake, and help avoid a hangover.

Read our guide to hangover cures

Myth: Alcohol in food doesn’t count, as cooking burns it off

Truth: Some of the alcohol does burn off during cooking, but not all of it. The amount that is left depends on how the food was prepared and cooked, and how long it was cooked for. So if you add alcohol to boiling liquid then remove it from the heat, about 85% of the alcohol will still be in the food. 

If alcohol is added to a dish, not heated up, and stored overnight, about 70% of the alcohol will remain. And if you prepare a baked or simmered dish, with alcohol stirred into the mixture, about 40% of it will be left after 15 minutes cooking, while only 10% will be left after two hours cooking.

Myth: Tucking into a big meal before you go out will help stop you getting drunk

Truth: Having a meal, especially one including carbohydrates, before heading for the pub can be a good idea, as it will slow down the speed at which alcohol enters your blood stream. But if you drink a lot of alcohol, eating first won’t stop you getting drunk.

What you need to know about the drink driving limit

Myth: Alcohol isn’t that fattening

Truth: Exactly the opposite is true. A pint of lager has the same calories as a slice of pizza. And as drinking can make you feel hungry, you might end up eating that slice of pizza or raiding the fridge, adding more calories to your night’s total.

Myth: A quick drink will warm me up

Truth: Alcohol – for instance, a shot of brandy – may make you feel warmer briefly, but it won’t last. Alcohol lowers your body temperature, so think twice before drinking in very cold weather.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.