From a logical, sober standpoint, drunk eating makes no sense. Alcohol is packed with calories: Even a seemingly innocuous beer like Bud Light is still 110 calories a pop, meaning you’re just a solid beer pong run away from consuming a serious chunk of your daily caloric needs.
But from a non-sober standpoint, YOU NEED TO EAT NOW. Not that understanding why this happens will necessarily prevent you from eating an entire pizza at 1:45 in the morning, but if you did know the answer, at least you could cross off “because I’m an idiot” from the list of most likely explanations.
Thankfully, science has come to the rescue and though “stupidity” might explain why you got so drunk in the first place, it’s not the reason you crave late night drunk grub. According to Live Science, a new study from The Francis Crick Institute in London found that alcohol may activate the part of the brain that makes us feel hungry, which in turn causes your intoxicated munchies, a phenomenon that researchers have dubbed with the very classy sounding name “the aperitif effect.” Yes, you’re screaming at the guy working at Jack in the Box because of “the aperitif effect.”
The research, which was conducted on mice, involved giving a group of the rodents what was referred to as an “alcoholic weekend.” Sadly for the mice, instead of an all-expenses paid trip to Cabo, they were simply injected with alcohol for three days straight in between getting a baseline of saline injections the three days before and after. Unsurprisingly, the mice ate more during their forced party session (as was in line with previous studies), but the researchers also looked at the mice’s brains during the experiment and found that a type of brain cells known as Agrp neurons were activated by the alcohol injections but not the saline injections. These cells are known to promote hunger, and providing further evidence to the researchers’ theory, inhibiting the activity of these neurons prevented the mice from overeating.
In the end, the study determined that alcohol, in mice at least, may cause “false ‘starvation alarms’” which could explain drunken eating. However, Live Science did point out that the study has its limitations, not only in the fact that it was conducted on mice, but that the mice were injected with alcohol instead of drinking it. “Nobody injects themselves with alcohol,” said one researcher not affiliated with the study. Um, I bet I could find some real scumbags who would beg to differ!