Most of us have been hearing it all our lives: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether you believe it or not, a new study shows eating breakfast has a measurable impact on the way your brain perceives food.
The study (PDF), released in a bundle of food- and diet-related studies during the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, obtained multiple MRIs of 21 volunteers both when they had skipped breakfast and when they were given a 750-calorie morning meal.
“Through both the participants’ MRI results and observations of how much they ate at lunch, we found ample evidence that fasting made people hungrier, and increased the appeal of high-calorie foods and the amount people ate,” study leader Tony Goldstone, MD, PhD, from the MRC Clinical Science Centre at London’s Imperial College said in a press release.
Specifically, researchers noted a pattern in the activity in what’s called the orbitofrontal cortex, the area above the eyes that affects the pleasantness and reward value associated with food. When fasting participants were shown pictures of high-calorie food, the orbitofrontal cortex was more active than during MRIs after they had eaten breakfast.
These scientific results might feel a little familiar. Remember last time you had to run out the door early, skipping breakfast? By mid-morning you were probably “starving” and reaching for the nearest calorie-laden breakfast sandwich (or pastry, or delicious sugary coffee drink). You probably weren’t seeking out fruit, low fat yogurt, or cereal (at least with the same fervor).
Our registered dietitians at Frederick Memorial Hospital agree eating breakfast is a great first step toward not just maintaining, but losing weight.
“We all agree that breakfast has been proven to help people control their appetites throughout the day and has been implicated in successful weight loss strategies for ages,” says FMH Registered Dietitian Emily Spear.
Plan ahead and make time to grab a quick bite before you start the day; your brain – and your belly – will thank you!