You’re a few beers in, you’re feeling buzzed, and now you’re stomach’s starting to grumble. You’re craving food, and for some reason it’s never grilled chicken and rice, but rather pizza, handfuls of chips, or a greasy burger and fries. And let’s be honest, if you can figure out how to get that junk food in front of you, you’ll be indulging ASAP. But now we’re wondering why this need to scarf down high-calorie snacks always accompanies a night of drinking, and American researchers have the answer!
A new study from Indiana University has released research suggesting that bingeing on booze heightens our brain’s response to aromas, making crave-worthy eats smell even better.
Known as the ‘Aperitif Effect‘ this phenomenon refers to the increased calorie intake which often results from heightened alcohol consumption. While many studies have tried to solve this appetite-enhancing mystery, this is the first one to look more closely at the role played by the brain.
35 female participants were administered with either an IV drip of alcohol or a placebo. Then their brain activity was monitored in order to assess responses to both food and non-food scents. Scans revealed that those who received the alcohol drip had a stronger response to food-based fragrances due to reactions in the hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating numerous metabolic processes within the body.
“Our study found that alcohol exposure can both increase the brain’s sensitivity to external food cues, like aromas, and result in greater food consumption,” reveals the study’s lead author, William Eiler. “Many alcoholic beverages already include empty calories, and when you combine those calories with the aperitif effect, it can lead to energy imbalance and possibly weight gain.”