Every time I go to the beach with a group of guy friends, they manage to make the trash-eating seagulls seem downright dainty. It doesn’t matter how many cold cuts or snacks we pack, or how many concession-stand hot dog runs we do, it only takes a few hours in the sun to turn a group of frisbee-tossing dudes into a pack of ravenous bears who would gladly devour a sandwich full of actual sand.
So, is there just something about the summer weather that makes men insanely hungry?
Well, yes. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Metabolism, exposure to sunlight might actually make men want to eat more.
The researchers behind the study didn’t set out to prove that men can’t be trusted with picnic baskets on a nice day. Rather, they wanted to know why sun exposure was good in moderation, and yet acted as a carcinogen when we get too much of it, and if food consumption had anything to do with it. They analyzed nutrition data from roughly 3,000 participants and found that, on average, men increased their food intake by about 300 calories per day in the summer, but the same effect wasn’t seen in women.
To gather more data, the study authors then asked an additional 10 volunteers — five men and five women — to sit in the sun for 25 minutes on a sunny day, before testing their blood. Results indicated that this ultraviolet exposure increased the ghrelin, a hunger-inducing hormone, in men’s blood only. The team confirmed the same effect on male and female mice, and speculated that ghrelin was blocked by estrogen in women.
Interestingly, they also found that “it’s highly reasonable that the UVB effect is dependent on the amount of skin exposed.” Meaning: the more you adhere to a “suns out, guns out” philosophy, the more ravenous you might be. So if your bros are bummed about having to make a fourth trip to the hot-dog stand, tell them to consider putting a shirt on instead.