Here’s Why You Eat Junk Food Every Time You Get Drunk

I’ve always assumed that the reason I’m 50% more likely to eat Whataburger when I’m drunk is because alcohol lowers my inhibitions and makes me more susceptible to making poor decisions…or ‘drunk mode’ decisions as I like to think of it…As it turns out, this may not be the case.

New research published in the Scientific American indicates that it’s not lowered inhibitions which cause our predilections towards greasy pizza when we get drunk, but that alcohol triggers a genuine ‘starvation’ response in the brain:

Researchers from The Francis Crick Institute Mill Hill Laboratory in London got mice drunk, then tagged and recorded the electrical activity in brain cells linked to hunger, uncovering a neural mechanism that could explain why the animals ate significantly more after binge-drinking sessions even though their bodies did not need the calories.

The neuroscientists first set out to confirm that consuming alcohol compels mice to eat more. They injected alcohol into the abdomens of male and female mice (housed alone to control for social factors) once a day for three days, mimicking an “alcohol weekend.” Each injection was the mouse-equivalent of roughly two bottles of wine, or six to eight British pints—what Blomeley calls “a proper binge session.” Over the three-day period intoxicated mice of both sexes ate significantly more than sober mice—a difference that was particularly pronounced on day two of the binge.

Yes, this was a study conducted on mice, not humans. But that’s pretty much how all research has begun in the past century, with testing being administered on mice before people.

What they found is the presence of alcohol a starvation reflex is triggered in the brain and this causes us to seek out food. In the case of humans, I’m sure there are a confluence of factors taking place but on the surface, I’d say the reason we eat shitty food late at night is because those are the only restaurants open. This is a ‘which came first, chicken or the egg’ scenario, I’m sure, but when I’m drunk I pretty much eat anything available and don’t necessarily seek out junk food, just whatever is open.

You can read the findings in full over on the Scientific American, or you can head over to the BBC for analysis.

Cass Anderson avatar
Cass Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of BroBible. He graduated from Florida State University, has been to more Phish concerts than he’d like to admit, and primarily specializes in Outdoor, Gear, and Whiskey-related content.