Not Eating Breakfast Leaves Your Brain Craving High Calorie
Foods by Kirsten Whittaker
non-obese subjects who skipped breakfast before a fMRI scan.
During the test, the subjects looked at photos of both high and low calorie foods.
High calorie choices included pizza, chocolate and cake. The low calorie foods were
things like veggies, salad and fish.
Using scans known as function magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that help doctors
look at blood flow in the brain and how it increases in response to brain activity, the
researchers were able to compare how breakfast eating vs. breakfast skipping
affected the reward center of the brain.
The reward center is known to be a part of the brain involved in keeping track of the
pleasure and reward that comes from food, as well as igniting the motivation to eat.
The taste, smell and sight of food also serve to activate these reward centers.
What the team found was that the reward center of the brain of the breakfast
skippers lit up more vividly when these subjects saw a high calorie food as opposed
when they were looking at a healthier alternative.
High calorie foods also were on top of the list of favorites the breakfast skipping
subjects listed when asked to rank foods they found most appealing.
Just the opposite was true when it came to the subjects who ate breakfast first,
then had the fMRI 90 minutes later.
This time, the reward center of the brain didn't show any greater activity at the sight
of the high calorie foods as when looking at the low calorie ones. What's more, the
subjects didn't rate the higher calorie foods any more appealing than the lower
"Our results support the advice for eating a healthy breakfast as part of the dietary
prevention and treatment of obesity," says Tony Goldstone, MD, PhD, a consultant
endocrinologist with the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College, London.
"When people skip meals, especially breakfast, changes in brain activity in response
to food may hinder weight loss and even promote weight gain."
Skipping breakfast causes your metabolic rate to slow down while your blood sugar
This brings on feelings of hunger that set you up for impulse eating later on in the
morning, at lunch or dinner.
Eating breakfast at the start of your day gives the body the fuel it needs to feel
satisfied, so that you're less likely to overeat, or eat on impulse for the rest of the
Here are some quick-to-make, healthy breakfast suggestions to try:
- Milk and whole-grain cereal
- Instant oatmeal topped with raisins and milk
- Whole-grain granola topped with fruit and yogurt
- Peanut butter on whole-wheat toast or a bagel
- Fruit smoothie made with yogurt
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers
- Energy bars so long as you read the labels - some of these have little fiber and as
many calories as a candy bar.
Future studies in this area might even uncover ways to prevent the activation of the
brain's reward center so that high calorie choices don't seem so appealing.
In the meantime, if you're trying to lose weight or just keep your weight under
control not eating breakfast is not an option, as a healthy breakfast including natural
sources of protein will help you feel fuller, longer.
About The Author
Next just head on over to the for more information why and skipping meals is bad for your overall health. Plus get 5 free
fantastic health reports.
You may have already heard that not
eating breakfast, often called the
most important meal of the day, isn't
a good idea if you're trying to lose
weight. But in the rush to get out the
door in the morning, many of us just
don't have the time, even though
studies have shown those who eat
breakfast stay slimmer and consume
fewer calories during the course of a
Now new research has hit upon the
The work involved 20 healthy,
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remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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