5 Reasons Why Alcohol Gives You Munchies

Why Alcohol Gives You Munchies

It’s news to none; alcohol can make you feel like you are starving, regardless of whatever you ate before. What happens is that the alcohol you consume activates the essential brain signals that make your body crave food.

Now, this explains why avid drinkers say that they tend to eat a lot more when they have consumed a few alcoholic drinks.

However, according to research, this is not a loss of restraint, where you lose the ability to control hunger. On the contrary, it is merely a neuronal response.

That is to say, this is not a mere spur of the moment; instead, there is a scientific explanation behind alcohol and its direct relation to starvation.

The Science Behind Alcohol and Munchies

It can pique curiosity as to why one specifically craves junk food during alcohol consumption or afterward. Why not vegetables or fruits? In reality, there are quite a few physiological reasons behind this.

Firstly, alcohol is essentially ethanol, and as you already know, it is a calorie-dense organic compound. Upon evaluation, this is almost as dense in calories when compared to actual fat. Now, this should mean that alcohol should give you the feeling of fullness.

On the contrary, it does the exact opposite and even boosts the appetite beyond expectations. The science behind why alcohol gives you the munchies is:

  • Stimulation/inhibition of neurochemical systems that regulate the human body’s appetite. As the exact process of what truly happens is unclear, research has only been able to show that Leptin and GLP-1 are affected by alcohol. These are primary hunger-regulation hormones.
  • Fatty acid oxidation suppression – contributing towards enhanced feelings of hunger (munchies).
  • Boosted Thermogenisis – meaning you will crave food a lot more than you normally do, almost as if you hadn’t had something tasty for days.

When you put together these pieces of the puzzle, it does make it quite obvious that alcohol consumption directly causes you to lose self-control.

Top 5 Reasons Why Alcohol Gives You The Munchies

Why Alcohol Gives You Munchies

After flipping through numerous researches and surveys, there were a lot of “unknowns” when it came to reasons for munchies. However, there are a few proven reasons why alcohol causes the munchies, and they are as follows:

  1. Dehydration – As aforementioned, alcohol can lead to dehydration as it is a diuretic. Dehydration due to alcohol consumption is often confused by the body as a feeling of hunger because of the dulled-down senses.
  2. Blood Sugar Fluctuation – Given the nature of alcohol, it leads to a drop in blood sugar levels at a rapid rate. Hence triggering immediate munchies.
  3. Reward System – Alcohol has a lot of odd effects on the body and the brain in particular. Research shows that it triggers the brain’s reward system and makes regular junk food seem extraordinarily tempting and appealing. As a result, the drunk person ends up overeating.
  4. Lowered Inhibitions – After you have had a few drinks down, the inhibitions of the body are significantly reduced, and that makes you prone to indulge in high-calorie snacks with no self-restraint.
  5. Appetite Hormone Boost – Similar to the point mentioned before, alcohol also triggers the rapid release of ghrelin hormone and similar ones that are responsible for appetite boost.

It is quite obvious that alcohol not only hinders self-restraint but also confuses the brain and the body to mix up what’s required with what can be harmful to the body. Therefore, staying careful while consuming alcohol is important as health always comes before everything else.

How Alcohol Affects Your Brain

Even though the munchies are merely a biophysical phenomenon that results from triggering certain hormones and compounds, the hunger also comes from the brain. Initially, alcohol reduces inhibitions as mentioned above, and decreases your natural defenses. In this case, particularly when it comes to making smart food choices and controlling portions.

To understand this relationship, you must first understand the sharing circuits within your brain. After some research, the minds and Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine developed a deeper understanding of eating and drinking patterns. This study, however, involved mice.

As a result, it was no surprise that alcohol is directly linked to hunger patterns. What initially happens is that your nerve cells in the brain’s hypothalamus are simulated, and you start craving food without any regard for health factors or taste. This arises in intense hunger, and you find yourself in the middle of a meal with zero clue how much you stuffed your stomach with.

How to Avoid Munchies Caused By Alcohol

There is no precise solution to controlling the munchies. However, studies have shown that you will need to train your brain in the long term to overcome the cravings and still have a sense of things while intoxicated.

The simplest way to do that is to avoid consuming alcohol to the point where you will no longer remember what happened when you wake up the next morning.

If you are an avid drinker, you can try training yourself and consume only to the point where you can control munchies and, after that, slowly build up from that. To clarify, there is no short-term solution to this, and probably your best choice if you care about health and well-being.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous reasons as to why alcohol gives you munchies, and so far, they can be narrowed down to five major reasons. However, at the very end of the discussion, there is only one suitable answer to the question.

That is, alcohol plays with your nerve cells, messing with your brain and triggering the release of hormones that cause uncontrollable hunger. While your normal brain functionality is disturbed, you will no longer have the self-restraint or the sense to know when to stop eating or if your belly is full. 

Therefore, the munchies are just a result of your brain being unable to understand what the body is missing. The most important bit is dehydration, being confused for hunger.

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