Why Being Hungry Can Change Who You Find Attractive

Let's say you agree to meet a man in person from a dating site. But maybe you're not feeling confident as you head out for your date because you're feeling like you weigh a bit more than you'd like and you're worried about how he'll react. No problem! Just plan on meeting him at a restaurant for a big meal. You've got nothing to worry about.

Why is that?

It's got to do with science. A duo of researchers has found that when men are hungry or stressed, they prefer female figures that are on the heavier side of normal — even overweight. You read that right. In the researchers' first study, published in the British Journal of Medicine, which compared hungry to satiated men, they concluded that when unfed, the male subjects preferred females with bigger body sizes than thinner ones (via HuffPost). 

The researchers trace this preference back to the innate human tendency to associate being on the heavy side with access to resources, such as food. A little junk in the trunk — what the researchers call "adipose tissue" — means a woman is well-fed. Conversely, a thin woman is viewed as unhealthy and possibly unable to have a successful pregnancy.

Even stress can affect who a man finds attractive

When you arrange your date with that man, consider meeting him for dinner right after he's finished work. He should be nice and stressed.

While being stressed, of course, is generally not good, the researchers found in their second study, published in PLOS ONE, that men subjected to a psychologically stressful situation tended to view heavier women more positively than the unstressed control group. What's more, the stressed men rated normal-weight women, overweight women, and those at least partially obese as attractive. Their range of attractive female body sizes was wider than the control group, who did not extend their preferences into the higher BMIs. As a side note, the researchers say it's been shown that Zulus living in rural South Africa found heavier body types more attractive than did British observers, which may be due to the Zulus' more stressful environment.

The takeaway from both these studies? A hangry man is an easily-pleased man. And that's a good thing.