Eating breakfast reduces unhealthy cravings

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How breakfast beats cravings

University of Missouri-Columbia researchers have found that eating breakfast, particularly meals rich in protein, increases levels of a brain chemical associated with feelings of reward. This may reduce food cravings and overeating later in the day.

“Our research showed that people experience a dramatic decline in cravings for sweet foods when they eat breakfast,” said Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology. “However, breakfasts that are high in protein also reduced cravings for savoury – or high-fat – foods. On the other hand, if breakfast is skipped, these cravings continue to rise throughout the day.”

Eating breakfast releases dopamine

Leidy studied the effects of different breakfasts on participants’ levels of dopamine, a brain chemical involved in moderating impulses and reward, including food cravings. Eating initiates a release of dopamine, which stimulates feelings of food reward. The reward response is an important part of eating because it helps to regulate food intake, Leidy said.

“Dopamine levels are blunted in individuals who are overweight or obese, which means that it takes much more stimulation – or food – to elicit feelings of reward; we saw similar responses within breakfast-skippers,” Leidy said.

“To counteract the tendencies to overeat and to prevent weight gain that occurs as a result of overeating, we tried to identify dietary behaviours that provide these feelings of reward while reducing cravings for high-fat foods. Eating breakfast, particularly a breakfast high in protein, seems to do that.”

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia via ScienceDaily

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