Alcohol and Hunger

Everyone likes to drink a bit of alcohol now and again. Sometimes, we drink too much, and those binges are later followed by severe hunger. Even eating a hearty meal before drinking does not stop you from feeling the “drunchies” later on. What is even worse is the fact that the “drunchies” set in despite the fact you consumed more than a thousand calories in alcohol.

A study from 2017 claims that the reason this happens might be that the alcohol activates specific brain cells that trigger our hunger. The study was conducted on mice, so this theory is still in its early stages. The study does force scientists to check whether this mechanism exists in humans as well. Scientists conducting the research even went as far as to test whether there was a difference between the effects of alcohol on the different sexes. They formed groups of both male and female mice in the study, and then they injected the mice with the equivalent of three bottles of wine each day, for three days straight. They tested them against a sober control group, and they found that the group which consumed more alcohol had a bigger appetite. This was especially true on the second day of the binge.


The mice exhibited almost the same reaction as humans do when drinking, and they constantly overate while drunk. Because of this, the scientists decided to take a look at the agouti-related protein neurons which they think trigger these reactions. These neurons play an integral part in the mouse’s feeding circuit, so when these neurons become active, it forces the mice to feed. They also deactivate when the mice finish eating.

The scientists then took pieces of mice brains and injected them with alcohol. As the brain came in contact with alcohol, the neurons became full of electrical activity. After that, the scientists started suppressing the Agrp neurons. As soon as that happened, the rodent’s appetite declined, and they started eating reasonable amounts of food, despite the presence of alcohol in their blood.

Still, more testing needs to be done to find out if these reactions are the same for mice and humans. Chances are, the responses are similar in the human brain and that the Agrp neurons have identical effects to the ones in mice. The team behind the study is pretty sure that the same thing happens in mice as it does in humans, but they need more data to confirm this.

This is just one of the more recent studies which focus on the “apéritif effect” or “drunchies” as they are more commonly known. One of the previous studies claimed that the sense of taste is why we eat more. The study took two groups, one drunk and one sober and subjected them to a taste test. The drunk group found the food they had been given much tastier than the sober group did. Another study focused on the effects of alcohol on the sugars found in our blood. The sugar levels fluctuate when alcohol is consumed, and that might be the reason people have these sudden and intense cravings after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol also lowers our inhibitions quite a bit. That also might be the reason why people binge more when they drink. But, like many other things we as humans do, this cannot be all attributed just to the consumption of alcohol. We can also blame evolution as well as society, and its many negative influences present today.

Binge drinking or binge eating is never the answer and should be avoided at all costs, at least until we gain a clearer picture as to why we partake in that particular activity.

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Lee has one of the most genuine smiles you have ever seen. His warm smile, and friendly personally give evidence of just how much joy he finds in his research. He has worked on numerous projects, which seek to learn more about terrible illnesses, with the hope of learning how to eradicate them altogether. Lee is also a huge basketball fan and is often found shooting hoops whenever he is not buried in a pile of books in his lab. He also makes time to coach at-risk youths and finds ingenious ways to remind them of the beauty of science even while they play around.

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