Skipping Breakfast and Weight Loss Do Not Go Hand-In-Hand Say ExpertsBy Rob Poulos...
Dieters for years now have combined the ideas of skipping breakfast and weight loss success, but rarely have they actually seen it do much good. Scientists recently presented new findings from a study conducted showing that skipping breakfast early in the day makes higher than average calorie meals all the more irresistible later on in the day because the circuitry of our brains are prime towards seeking those high calorie foods when it’s a fasting mode. The experiments were funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), the European Union Marie Curie Fellowship, Imperial College Healthcare Charity, and the National Institute for Health Research.
The study’s lead writer, Tony Goldstone from the Imperial College London and his colleagues looked at people’s MRI scans and their individualized eating habits, both after breakfasts were eaten and days they skipped a morning meal.
The study of the participants’ MRI scan results and scientific observations of their lunch diets provided plenty of evidence showing that fasting indeed made dieters hungrier and this in turn made the fattening foods more appealing as well as increased the amount they consumed at later meals. Using fMRIs or functional magnetic resonance images of 21 average sized participants who were instructed not to eat breakfast before arriving in the test location on some days, while for other visits the participants would eat a large breakfast of approximately 750 calories, about 90 minutes before going through the MRIs. Then, they all were given a lunch with the researchers monitoring the quantity of food consumed.
During each trial, the participants were instructed to rate how appealing photographs of high and low calorie food were while their brains were scanned. As a control to compare it to, participants were asked to provide their opinion, in the form of a rating, how appealing certain inanimate objects were. The results overwhelmingly showed skipping breakfast made them hungrier, increased the how appealing the high-calorie foods were and increased the amount of lunch they had after the scan.
The biggest difference of brain activity, when comparing the brains scans of breakfast eaters versus the breakfast skippers seemed to occur in the orbitofrontal cortex, the area influences a person’s judgments about how pleasant a food is and the potential reward that food would bring. This section of the brain had decidedly more activity when looking at the high calorie pictures that it was on the days they were instructed to eat breakfast.
What this translates to researchers is that the orbitofrontal cortex is a major player in a person’s ability to make food choices. This study goes hand-in-hand with older experimental studies that stated fasting was not an effective weight loss method, instead, suggesting that brain is biased to seek higher calorie foods. Additionally, researchers find that from looking at MRI scans of the brain, it is actually possible to determine ahead of time which one of the individuals would be more apt to respond to the high-calorie foods.
What any dieter can take away from this study is the knowledge that a balanced breakfast is a help, not a hindrance in one’s efforts to lose weight.