People eat more after drinking alcohol – It was all going so well. You’d been sensible, had a grilled chicken breast with rice for dinner, headed out to the gym, but then… the worst happened. The moment you sipped that first glass of wine, you knew it was game over.
When you’re on a diet or merely just trying to live a healthier lifestyle, there’s one itsy, bitsy little thing that can be your worst enemy; alcohol. Once you’ve had your first tipple, your mind switches directly into ‘hunger’ mode and all you can think about is when or how you’re going to get to eat. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Overeating after you’ve had a drink or three is nothing particularly new. We live in a world where you can basically get anything you want anytime that you want it. Grabbing a takeout after a night out is something of a ritual for many of us. We can’t explain it; it’s just what we do. Of course, this habit can be as much down to our culture as anything else. Getting the munchies and then eating everything in sight is what we think of as normal these days.
Drinking alcohol also makes mice eat more!
But wait, what if there’s more to it than that? According to the results of a recent scientific study, there could be a deeper-seated reason that we reach for a burrito after having a few glasses of wine. So, what on earth’s the deal? Well, the study looked at what happens to mice when they are inebriated (aka, drunk!). The findings were quite surprising. After being subject to three-straight days of drinking (being fed alcohol), the mice tended to eat much more than the control group.
“Our data suggest that alcohol sustains fundamental appetite signals, (and does) not just disinhibit their behavioral manifestation,” explained Denis Burdako, who led the study. “The core idea here is that alcohol triggers our hunger. While before now, you may have assumed that we’re conditioned to think we want food when we’re drunk, that’s unlikely the case. You’re not imagining it; if we’re to believe the findings of this study, the hungry feeling we get comes directly from our brains.”
Blame it on the Agrp Neurons
(Wasn’t there a Milli Vanilli song with that same title?) In short, Agrp neurons, which are responsible for promoting hunger, are activated by alcohol. So, according to this particular study, that means “that the alcohol-associated activity of Agrp neurons… is the critical step in alcohol-induced overeating”. When you drink, the alcohol content sends a signal to your brain to activate these neurons. So, a false signal goes through your mind telling you that you are, indeed, starving. That explains when you end up eating a whole lot after you’ve been on a night out.
What’s more, it’s worth pointing out that it really does not matter how much you eat before you head on your night out. (Many of us are under the impression that eating before you hit the town will curb your hunger later!) That is simply not the case. How full your stomach is has absolutely nothing to do with this phenomenon since everything happens in your brain. The sad news is that means that you could end up significantly overeating when you’ve got a little tipsy. Whoops.
Cut back on alcohol and you’ll eat less
So, what should you do? Just about every diet or weight loss program including big names like Weight Watchers Online (get coupons) and Nutrisystem (get coupons) warn against drinking excessive alcohol, so it’s no secret that alcohol is an enemy of successful weight loss.
Well, cutting out alcohol altogether is one option. After all, it’s packed full of empty calories and is, frankly, no good for your health. If you can’t quite manage to go that extreme, simply cutting back a little may be the way forward. Simply drinking a little less could help you combat overeating and a whole load of other health issues. Also, skip the bread before dinner, as that makes you eat more too!