Have you ever had a heavy drinking session and not been able to stop eating the whole of the next day? And you just crave lots of fatty foods like a full on English fried breakfast? If so you are definitely not alone and in fact there’s a reason for that craving.
An extensive study of 15,000 adults* found that those who drink more alcohol tend to consume less fruit and vegetables, make poorer food choices all round, and consume more calories from both the alcoholic beverages and foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars. Alcoholic drinks by themselves are really high in calories. A small glass of white wine for example is about 90 calories; a regular beer is about 150 calories and that innocent Marguerita will set you back a whopping 450 calories.
So why do we crave food after a binge drinking session?
1. The study found that people who drink more alcohol, eat less omega-3 fatty acids, which are fats that are extremely important to enable our brains to work properly. These fats are found in fish like salmon and tuna. However alcohol also actively depletes these omega-3s from your brain and not enough omega-3s can also increase the craving for more alcohol and food. When you combine too few omega-3s, with too many omega-6 fatty acids, (the everyday fats you find in a typical American diet), it causes an imbalance which increases the craving for alcohol and food, and an inability to feel satiated.
2. Alcohol is also high in carbohydrates which are turned into sugar in your body. That sugar goes into your bloodstream and increases your blood sugar level. Your body then automatically responds by producing more insulin to lower your blood sugar level. This is also why you can feel shaky, dizzy or tired. To overcome this feeling of lethargy and tiredness from the low blood sugar level, your body sends out hunger signals that tell you to eat more so your blood sugar can get back to normal levels.
3. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose more water that it takes on by stopping the production of the body’s anti-diuretic hormone. This therefore makes you want to urinate more often and so you lose more fluid from the body which causes dehydration. Dehydration slows down your metabolic rate, which is not good for weight loss, but in addition dehydration is often confused with hunger so you eat more.
So if you stop drinking altogether, you are going to lose weight. Firstly you will not be consuming the heavy calories from alcoholic drinks, secondly you will not get those urges to eat all those fatty and sugary foods, and lastly you won’t get that dehydrated feeling which makes you eat more. And naturally you will feel much healthier.
* A joint study by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) led by Dr Breslow, National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) , published April 2005 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
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