It happens to all of us: After a night of drinking, we are drawn to the most fatty, cheesy, salty foods out there to “absorb” all that booze.
A new survey, however, points out the risks of excessive drinking and its link to overeating, aiming to raise awareness about obesity and alcohol. Drinking more than three large glasses of wine could cause people to eat some 6,300 extra calories in the following 24 hours, the survey found. Besides, “[a]lcohol makes the food even more rewarding. It tastes good and feels even better than it would do normally,” Dr. Jacquie Lavin, head of nutrition and research at Slimming World, which commissioned the research from YouGov, said.
About half of the people in the study who drank booze said that excessive alcohol intake led to binge-eating fast food. And most of these people also cancelled their exercise plans for the next day, due to crippling hangovers. Instead of exercising, hungover people were more likely to stay in bed, watching TV — and had a higher likelihood of eating an additional 2,051 calories on top of their regular diet due to the hangover. As a result, the extra calories could ultimately lead to gaining 2 lbs. a week.
“The survey is very interesting,” Bridget Benelam, a nutritionist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said, according to the BBC. “But it is a survey and not a scientific study. It is useful as well as the hard science, to be aware of what people are thinking in the real world, to get messages out there.”
Booze “temporarily impairs the prefrontal cortex, the smarty-pants part of the brain that allows you to think clearly and rein in impulsivity," Dr. Pamela Peeke told Health.com. "So after a certain amount of alcohol (and it's different for everyone), you're going to feel yourself not caring and letting it rip with food and probably drinks.”
If you enjoy a few drinks every so often, there are ways to manage your drinking and eating habits to prevent any unwanted weight gain. First, be sure to spread out your drinks and eat before or during your time at the bar. Eating plenty of food before you drink will prevent you from getting too drunk, and you’ll be less hungry later. Drink water after every drink as well.
Before passing out, drink several glasses of water, and eating something high in fiber and protein, like cereal or oatmeal. “You’ll get important nutrients into the body that were lost during alcohol consumption,” Dr. Jason Burke, a hangover researcher in Vegas, told Health.com. “Plus, foods rich in fiber stay in the stomach longer, so you’ll be less prone to hunger in the morning.”