Ever felt that bottomless pit in your stomach after a couple of drinks? And the more you drink, the more food you are likely to eat? On top of this, it’s also generally the high-refined carbohydrate & fatty junk type foods that you tend to crave.
Alcohol itself provides the body with 7 calories per gram. This is more than the calories provided by protein and carbohydrates, which is 4 calories per gram. The alcohol calorie content is therefore more similar to the amount of energy provided by fats, which is 9 calories per gram!
So the big question is, even though the body has ingested calories, why does it still feel hungry and not full? Why do I always get the munchies when I drink?
There could be a number of things that cause us to eat more than we should when we drink alcohol:
- Alcohol can make you feel more relaxed around your rules when it comes to portion control and healthy eating.
- Alcohol lowers blood sugar levels in the body (as the body needs glucose for the processing and metabolising of the alcohol), so this can cause cravings for carbohydrates and sugars, which will normalize those blood sugar levels. This is why it’s especially important to not drink on an empty stomach.
- Alcohol can also influence appetite by preventing the hormones that control appetite and prevent food intake to work.
- Some research suggests that alcohol may also stimulate the same areas in the brain that starvation would normally activate. It basically makes your brain feel like it’s starving. This can cause increased feelings of hunger for high carbohydrate and fatty foods that would normalise blood sugar levels and provide a dense source of energy.
How to avoid the drunk munchies:
- Don’t drink alcohol to the point of getting drunk. Have a glass of water between drinks. This will help you stay hydrated and will reduce the amount of alcohol you have in total. Drinking a glass of water also gives you something to hold instead of reaching for snacks. Plan in an exercise session for the next morning to prevent you from falling into 'just going with it' that can cause you to drink more than what you would like to.
- Don’t have the junk foods lying around to tempt you. Make sure you have healthier options available to choose from. It could be snacks like popcorn, biltong, yoghurt etc.
- Have a balanced meal with a drink. Balancing the meal with a high fibre carbohydrate, protein and fat will help keep you from craving food later.