A lot of people imagine skipping breakfast will help them lose weight, but a new study shows the brain has a different reaction. Experts say skipping breakfast makes you crave high calorie food so in the end it will only make you fatter.
It looks like your grandmother knew what she was saying when she was urging you to have breakfast. But 31 million Americans skip breakfast each day because of their desire to lose weight or the busy lifestyle. A British study has found that skipping breakfast isn’t the way to lose weight. As a matter of fact, skipping breakfast will make your brain crave high calorie food.
Scientists at Imperial College London studied how the brain reacts when volunteers skip breakfast. Although doctors say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a lot of dieters either skip it completely thinking that would help them lose weight. But neuroscientists’ recent findings might give them something to think about.
21 men and women around 25 years of age took part in a two-day experiment. Both days they were asked to look at pictures of salads, fish, pizza and chocolate and rate how appealing the food was. One day they skipped breakfast and one day they received a 750-calorie breakfast with bread and jam and cereals.
When they skipped breakfast, their brain was craving for high calorie food. At lunch, volunteers in the experiment ate about 20 percent more. MRI scans showed their brains were also more susceptible to react to high-calorie foods. The activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (just above the eyes) is believed to encode “the value of rewards – how rewarding, how pleasant, how tasty something is”.
“Not surprisingly, when they are fasted they are hungry and they rate the high-calorie foods as more appealing than when they are fed” explained Tony Goldstone, lead-author. “For low-calorie foods, the effect is not as marked. When they come out of the scanner, they are given lunch and they eat more when they haven’t had breakfast” he added.
“Beware of going for long periods without eating because you are going to crave high-calorie foods much more because of changes in how your orbital frontal cortex works” Tony Goldstone advised.