Volunteers in Study Eat More, Prefer Unhealthy Foods without Breakfast
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/19/2012 -- Trying to lose weight? Don’t skip breakfast!
Eating in the morning is actually beneficial in losing weight, according to research done by scientists at Imperial College in London. According to the study, people who miss breakfast eat more for lunch and crave unhealthy foods full of fat and sugar. This predilection for eating worse breakfast is skipped is bad news for dieters trying to save calories by skipping meals.
The researchers took brain scans of 21 volunteers as they viewed images of a variety of different foods. The volunteers then rated how appealing the foods seemed, choosing among a smattering of health foods, salads and vegetables, to unhealthy desserts and snacks, like chocolate, cake, and pizza.
The volunteers had their brains scanned and were asked to rate foods twice, once when they had eaten breakfast and once when they had not eaten since the day before. After each experiment the volunteers were offered a pasta lunch and encouraged to eat their fill.
The results of the experiment showed that those who skipped breakfast ate an average of 250 calories more than those who had not, as well as rating high-calorie foods more appealing during testing. Researcher Tony Gladstone says that the data showing that people who skip breakfast eat more at lunch. They prefer calorie-laden foods and the data suggests that people who skip breakfast would likely choose the calorically-dense food on their own.
Current research suggests that when we skip meals, our bodies release chemicals in the frontal cortex of our brains that turn our thoughts toward high-energy treats. This evolutionary mechanism is thought to have helped our ancestors survive lean times by making sure they focused on getting enough food to avoid starvation.
This impulse to grab unhealthy, while a boon to the active hunter-gatherers of our past, is the scourge of sedentary dieters with cookies, brownies and hamburgers just a food court away.
Dr. Goldstone has this advice for people trying to lose weight: don’t fight your brain. “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 orbitofrontal cortex works.”
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