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You’re about 3 beers or glasses of wine in and you see a burger and chips arrive on the table next to you. Your healthy eating plan slips further from your mind as you lay eyes on those crispy golden fries and giant cheeseburger. There’s no way around it, you need food. Now! And it’s never the good food that you want. It’s the wrong food, the quick fixes that fill us up, and give us instant gratification from that first bite.
This pattern has struck many of us, many times, but why does it happen? Why does alcohol almost always turn us into this somewhat animalistic version of ourselves, often eating more food than we actually need?
Well, science has offered a concrete explanation for this. A study published in Nature Communication by the Francis Crick Institute, was carried out on mice to test the ‘alcohol-induced overeating‘ widespread human phenomenon, and why it occurred.
Mice were given ethanol (alcohol) for 3 days straight and as expected their food intake increased. It was noted in the study that alcohol, being high in calories, should suppress the brain’s appetite, but as we know, this is not the case.
The discovery, now termed the ‘aperitif effect‘ found that alcohol induces the brain into ‘starvation mode’. What happens is that alcohol causes hyper-activity of neurons called AGRP, the neurons that are activated when your body enters into starvation.
To test this, the scientists gave the mice drugs to suppress AGRP, which set their hunger at bay.
It’s a viscous cycle indulging in excessive drinking, because it will almost always lead one to excessive eating.
It’s common knowledge that over-indulgence of alcohol is very damaging to our health, but the study now shows how badly it can impact weight gain.
To put this into perspective, here is the calorie content of your drinks:
Now add this to your food intake as well, and you might well be exceeding your daily normal amount of calories.
Last year Business Tech ranked SA in the top 20 highest drinking countries in the world.
Sure, we all love our wine and beer here in SA, but perhaps a fresh year, along with this study, will encourage us to cut back a little on the booze!
(Calories above may vary depend on quantities, brand, maturity and method of production of alcohol).
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