Have you ever had one too many tipples the night before, and woken feeling ravenous and craving stodgy, carb-fuelled junk food? You’re not alone, most of us have been there. Unlike fat, that we can store (far too easily!), we cannot store alcohol in our bodies. Therefore, when we drink alcohol, even just a small amount, our body gets busy trying to break it down and get rid of it.
This process uses up our supplies of glycogen. When we eat carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into sugars, primarily glucose. We use this glucose for energy and brain function, and the excess is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When we’re low on glucose, we turn to these reserves of glycogen and use them for energy.
But since the process of alcohol breakdown uses up glycogen, our reserves can become depleted. And how do we replenish them? By eating carbohydrates! Sadly, we think we need fatty processed carbs, when actually we’d be better off eating wholemeal bread or pasta.
Also of course, there’s that late night, post-pub kebab – because alcohol lowers our inhibitions and makes us make choices that we might not otherwise if we’re sober – including making us think we’re hungry when we might not be.