Ever wonder why you get the late night munchies after consuming copious amounts of alcohol? Apparently, your brain’s feeding circuits could be to thank for that.
The idea that alcohol leads to hunger is contradictory to scientists, considering that the ethanol molecule present in alcohol is rich in calories. The caloric intake while drinking should suppress appetite signals to the brain, though the opposite seems to be true. Loss of self-control while intoxicated is the most commonly regarded explanation of why this occurs, though neurological factors are most likely also at play.
The reason why alcohol triggers hunger is still unclear, but researchers are investigating this phenomenon. A study published in Nature Communications explores the topic using a mouse model.
Scientist from the Francis Crick Institute used mice to study the effects of ethanol on food intake. They simulated a weekend of binge drinking, equal to 18 standard drinks. They gave the animals ethanol for three days followed by saline solution for three days.
The researchers noticed that the food intake of the mice increased substantially during the ethanol drinking days. The scientists also studied neurons in the mice’s brains that displayed hyperactivity when exposed to ethanol.
These findings suggest that drinking and overeating are directly related in mammals. So the next time you find yourself in this situation, find comfort in that fact that lack of self-control is not solely to blame.
Chamberlain Smith is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.