It's a widely-known truth that everything tastes better when you're drunk. It's the reason we'll absolutely destroy a shawarma at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning, but probably wouldn't pick it as a first choice for our weekday lunch.
But why? Why does food you eat half cut taste better than your last meal on death row probably would? Luckily, the folks over at DNews have answered this burning question, and they've taken it to the scientists to get a real, in-depth explanation.
It turns out it's something that has puzzled scientists for a while. DNews presenter Jules Suzdaltsev explains: "Alcohol is really calorically dense. A gram of pure alcohol contains more calories than a gram of carbohydrates or protein, and almost as many as in a gram of fat."
It's information we kind of knew, but would rather not be reminded of. So why, taking into consideration how many calories there are in your favorite boozy drinks, do we feel the need to load ourselves up with so many more delicious-tasting, greasy food?
In a study published earlier this year in the Nature Communications journal, scientists found that mice ate a lot more after they were plied with alcohol for three days straight, than they did completely sober. Analyzing the mouse brains, the researchers found that certain neurons were more active following alcohol, which release a peptide (a small chain of amino acids, in case you're interested) called AgRP (agoti-related protein).
Basically, that's what makes you want to eat even when you're not hungry.
Cruelly, the peptide plays tricks on us by simultaneously supressing the release of leptin, the hormone we have to regulate our appetite. So essentially, our brains are completely against us and any kind of healthy eating we try to do as soon as we've had a drink. Cheers, life.
So that's part of the reason food tastes so good when we're drunk; our body is kidding us into believing we want it so badly that of course it's going to taste good.
And there's another thing, too. Alcohol also affects the way our brain processes the taste and texture of foods, often making food that wouldn't usually appeal to you sound like it's a dish crafted by angels. That's thanks to "the opiate system," which is the reason alcohol makes us feel good and can often relieve pain. Basically, alcohol releases more "endogenous opioids," which is what makes us fancy food we'd normally be pretty turned off by.
So that's your science lesson for today over and done with. Now go, get pissed, and enjoy two McDonald's Happy Meals plus a Coke Float.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.