New research indicates that college students get the drunchies after a night of heavy drinking. What is that though? It's a combination of drunk and munchies – so food cravings induced by alcohol.
The study was conducted by a team from the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. It revealed that such a thing as drunchies exists and it usually manifests as people drinking and then craving (and having) fatty, salty, and unhealthy foods.
“Given the obesity epidemic and the rates of alcohol consumption on college campuses, we need to be aware of not only the negative effect of alcohol consumption but also the impact it has on what people are eating while they are drinking,” says Jessica Kruger, clinical assistant professor of community health and health behavior at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Until now, we had only heard about munchies – the overwhelming urge to snack heavily after consuming marijuana-based products. And drunchies haven't been as studied as the former. Until now, that is. Kruger says that there is definitely not enough research that looks at the effects drinking can have on your diet and your body.
Why a study on drunchies?
So the study shows that alcohol can bring a lot of similar eating patterns to the fore as marijuana consumption. So how did this new research come about? Kruger said that the inspiration was an ad in a university newspaper. Its slogan was “Got Drunchies?” and it advertised fast food places that were open late after the bars closed up for the night.
Then, the study was done mostly on college students, since about 65 percent of them reported drinking alcohol regularly. That's a big demographic piece and the research team found that it was important to study their eating habits as well.
“So, we dug a bit deeper and first figured out what the drunchies were, and then decided this would be interesting to study. Our first study in this area focused on what people ate while drinking alcohol. This study explored what they eat the day after drinking,” Kruger says.
One beer means an intake of 150 calories. And if the drunchies lead to eating fast food, the extra weight tends to stack in very unhealthy ways. It's not just about the weight and calories. It's that fast food is usually processed and it's one the unhealthiest option for anyone to have.
The students filled out an anonymous online survey. They had to detail what they typically ate for the first meal of the day and the frequency of eating something before going to bed. Then they had to connect these meals with the nights they consumed alcohol. And so, a pattern emerged.
Unhealthy dinner and breakfast
It turned out that the participants tended to eat pizza or burritos before going to bed. Who hasn't stopped to get some pizza or a stack of pancakes with their friends, as a nice after party? And all of the alcohol drinkers that responded to the survey tended to have that kind of eating habits.
It was quite similar for the breakfast next day, when they did not have a nutritious meal either. A lot of them chose pizza for that, too. The reason? The hangover cures that tend to be passed on from generation to generation.
But what is the cause of the drunchies? That's still not fully clear to scientists. The operating theory is that after drinking alcohol there's a shift in blood glucose levels. They rise and fall, and the body has the impression that it's feeling hungry, according to Kruger.