The Science Behind Why We Get Hungry When We’re Drunk

If you’ve ever been guilty of heading straight to a fast food joint instead of straight of the bed, you’re not alone. Many of us have broken promises not to indulge in greasy decadence during the wee hours of the morning, but ever wonder why as the night of boozing unfolds, so does your appetite? New research sheds light on why when drinking alcohol, it feels that with our wallet, our stomach empties too, and how with our amplified courage, our hunger follows along.

A team of scientists from the Francis Crick Institute in London, decode the mystery of late night drunken feists and uncontrollable cravings by studying mice and their brain activity when supplied with some liquor.

In what they called “an alcoholic weekend experiment,” mice were injected with the compound of alcohol and water three days in a row. The amount of ethanol (alcohol) that was provided was proportional to what humans would drink over an ordinary weekend. The results revealed that with the booze remarkably increased their appetite independently of gender and increasingly in the morning hours.

It turns out that although alcohol contains calorie-dense nutrients, the body can’t store them and consequently, the brain can’t recognize them as an appetite suppressor, as it would if you had any other type or amount of calorie intake. The researchers found that the particular group of neurons (brain cells) in charge of the regulation of eating impulses is stimulated both by hunger and by alcohol. This means that the more booze gets into our bloodstream, ethanol is faster to signalize the brain to activate the starvation mode. The alert fuels our appetite resulting in endless and wild binge-eating.

The news comes as a relief to all of us who don’t skip on weekend nights out since it is comforting to know that we don’t merely overeat because we tend to skimp on self-control and self-regard when smashed but because the brain itself, links the presence of ethanol with the urge to eat.