Health And Medicine

How Breakfast Affects Learning and Body Metabolism in Different Ways

You may have come across some people who skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but keep in mind that the result can be devastating when it backfires. Skipping any meals of the day, especially breakfast, can make weight control difficult and it can affect body metabolisms in various ways. Given below are the scientifically proven effects of breakfast on learning and other metabolic activities in our body.

A saying by Adelle Davis – Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper – makes a lot more sense now. Breakfast is considered as the most important meal of the day and evidences have shown various health benefits for eating breakfast.

Breakfast develops healthy eating habits and it can make weight control easier. The importance of breakfast bends more towards children than it does to adult and different studies have shown that it can increase attention, improve energy, regulate mood and take child’s performance in school to the maximum level while adults need breakfast each day to just keep their day going and perform their best.

You may have come across some people who skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but keep in mind that the result can be devastating when it backfires. Skipping any meals of the day, especially breakfast, can make weight control difficult and it can affect body metabolisms in various ways.

Given below are the facts about breakfast and how it influences learning and other metabolic activities in our body.

1. Better Breakfast, Better Academic Achievement and Good Cognitive Performance

A study at Tufts University, back in 2005, showed that children with breakfast consumption has been associated with better cognitive performance. Better breakfast significantly improves logical reasoning and arithmetic because it keeps them focused on learning throughout the day. It also enhances the performance on measures of vigilance attentions and however, when children skips breakfast, it detrimentally affects cognitive behavior such as problem solving, attention and episodic memory.

Researchers believe the link between high-fiber carbohydrate-rich breakfast and improved cognitive performance may be related to their effect on blood glucose levels. Glucose is considered as an important source of physiological energy and studies have shown that glucose administration improved cognitive performance. Moreover, it has been shown that children who skip breakfast have 4.6 lower IQ scores than those who eat breakfast regularly.

For this, researchers conducted experiments to examine how a variety of breakfast foods affected academic performance of students at school. They found that children who had whole grains with milk performed better on a series of tests than those who had low-carbohydrate diet and low-fiber, high glycemic cereal.

A similar research done at the University of Iowa shows how nutrition influences grades. Students who participated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s School Breakfast Program (SBP) have higher achievement scores in the series of cognitive tests they conducted, including the subjects math and science than students in schools that don’t participate.

This, in all likelihood, helps students from low-income families perform better academically.

2. Teens Who Skip Breakfast Regularly Have Higher Incidence of Metabolic Syndrome in Adulthood

Teens having breakfast

Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is a syndrome that encompasses various metabolic abnormalities including high blood pressure and high blood sugar, which is believed to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Not only this, but also skipping breakfast is one of the major causes of obesity and we are pretty much well aware of the health risks of obesity.

Researchers at Umea University in Sweden found that adolescents who ate poor breakfasts have a 68% higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared to those who ate more substantial and healthy diet breakfasts in their youth.

Further researches are needed to done on this regard because the mechanism involved in the connection between breakfast and metabolic syndrome is not clearly understood, however the several studies suggest that a poor breakfast can have negative effect on blood sugar regulation.

3. Having Heavy Breakfast Doesn’t Generally Help You Lose Weight

The term “heavy” itself defines overeating. How could you lose weight when you eat more than you need? You might as well accompany a calorie counter and a diet tracker and see the surge of calories in your body and then go for an extreme weight loss program, eat weight loss pills and start looking for foods that burn fats without accepting the fact that you overate.

In most cases,  some people think having big healthy breakfast could help lose weight and sometimes it is better to skip breakfast altogether. Well, either way – it is wrong. A research conducted back in 2011 at BioMed Central cleared a pathway through this skepticism.

Researchers conducted a study on over 300 people and they were asked to keep a journal of what they usually ate. The group included people who ate a big breakfast, small breakfast and ones who skipped it all together. They found that people generally ate the same at lunch and dinner except for how much they ate in breakfast, and big breakfast resulted in a total increase in calories eater over the day of about 400kcal. The only difference seen was when someone skipped mid-morning snack after having heavy breakfast, but this was not enough to make up for the extra calories they already had taken.

This study stands against the previous research which claims that eating a big breakfast reduces total calories intake over the day. So eating big breakfast doesn’t generally help weight loss and in order to do so, eating a large breakfast must be counteracted by eating substantially less during the rest of the day.

4. Healthy Recipes Don’t Always Mean They’re Good Enough For Consumption In Breakfast

Protein rich breakfast

You might be thinking it might be a good idea to start your day off with meals rich in protein, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the after-effects could be as similar as skipping breakfast.

When one skips breakfast, there is an increase chance of overeating; and also eating breakfast, particularly protein-rich meals increases levels of a brain chemical that induces fondness of eating. This may reduce food cravings for a moment, but subsequently this leads to overeating later in the day. Well, if you want to control your appetite, you should consider having oatmeal than having ready-to-eat breakfast cereal or sausage.

What you eat in breakfast can alter the level of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a brain chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter; it moderates impulses and rewards, including food cravings. Researchers determined dopamine levels of participants by measuring homovanillic acid (HVA). Eating initiates a release of dopamine, which stimulates feelings of food reward. The reward response helps regulate food intake.

Researchers found reduced level of dopamine in individuals who are overweight or obese and similar response could be seen within break-fast skippers.

5. Healthy Breakfast Could Lower the Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Children who skip breakfast regularly are more likely to develop risk factors for diabetes just like adults or teenagers. This study was conducted by researchers at St. George’s University of London. The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of 4,116 school children aged between 9 to 10 years.

They asked about their breakfast habits and conducted blood tests to measure diabetes risk markers such as fasting insulin, glucose, and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c). Their report showed 26 percent of the children not having regular breakfast every day and they were found to have higher fasting insulin, higher insulin resistance, slightly higher glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and slightly higher glucose, compared to those who ate regular breakfasts.

6. High-protein Breakfast Can Help Women Maintain Their Glucose Level

High-protein Breakfasts Can Help Women Maintain their Glucose Level

Although consuming protein-rich breakfast increases food cravings later in the day, there is a good side for doing so, especially for women.

We all know that after eating, the food we eat is converted into glucose and this is what gives us energy. But, what could happen when there is extreme increase in level of glucose and insulin in the blood after consuming high protein-rich breakfast? Of course, it could lead to poor glucose control and increase one’s risk of developing diabetes over time, but for women, the effect can be different.

High-protein breakfast can beneficially maintain better glucose and insulin control in women than they did with lower-protein or no-protein meals in breakfast. This prevents women from developing diabetes in the future.

The study was done in the University of Missouri where 18 to 55 years old women (number not specified) were examined about their eating habits. The participants were made to consume one of three different meals or only water – less than 300 calories per serving with same amount of fat and fiber contents – for four days. When monitored the amount of glucose and insulin in the participants’ blood, they found that both protein-rich breakfasts led to lower spikes in glucose and insulin after meals compared to the low-protein, high-carb breakfast. Hence, for healthy women, the consumption of protein-rich breakfasts can help maintain control better glucose level.

7. The Secret To How To Be A Genius Lies In What You Eat In Breakfast

As succinctly mentioned above, healthy breakfast can boost math performance. A study done by researchers at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that eating breakfast or choosing to skip it, can have a great influence on child’s ability to do math.

The researchers conducted the study on 81 children 8 to 11 years old. Each of the children were made to take two morning math tests with a 40-minute break in between. There were children who skipped the breakfast and those who didn’t.

Using EEG (electroencephalographic) sensors, the researchers recorded the activity in the areas of the brain that are involved in tackling maths problems. They found that children who didn’t eat breakfast put more mental effort in doing so which make them lose energy and stayed out of focus, compared to children who ate breakfast and used less mental effort to solve the problems and stayed more focused on the tests.

8. Healthy Breakfast Can Fight Fertility/Pregnancy Problems in Women

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States aged 15 to 44 years have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant due to problems with ovulation mainly caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis or uterine fibriods. But a hearty breakfast in the morning have shown to boost ovulation in women with PCOS.

At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a team of fertility experts experimented whether primary meals were associated with bodily process. For this, the team randomly assigned 60 women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) aged between 25 and 39 with a body mass index of less than 23. All the participants were divided into two groups and were made to consume 1,800 calories a day.  The first group had their largest meal and consumed approximate around 983 calories at breakfast, 645 calories at lunch, and 190 calories at dinner. The second group had less and they consumed around 190 calories at breakfast, 645 calories at lunch, and 983 calories at dinner.

After around 13 weeks, the researchers examined participants in each group for insulin, glucose and testosterone levels and found that participants with big dinner group maintained high insulin and testosterone and while in those big breakfast group, the team saw 56 percent decrease in insulin resistance and a 50 percent decrease in testosterone. And this reduction in the levels of insulin and testosterone – increases the level of progesterone which led to rise in 50 percent in ovulation.

9. Lead Poisoning in Children Can be Stamped Out

We are well aware that fasting can increase lead poisoning in adults and although epidemiological evidence of links between fasting and blood lead levels in children is extremely rare; proper breakfasts are required to prevent lead poisoning when they enter their adulthood. A research done at BioMed Central showed that healthy breakfast can lower blood lead levels in children.

Data acquired from the China Jintan Child Cohort Study compared blood lead levels in children to various factors including social factors and eating habits. The researchers found differences in blood lead levels and the risk of lead poisoning in boys almost twice that of girls; and the children with regular breakfast had 15 percent lower blood lead levels than those who did not eat breakfast. Therefore, having healthy breakfast could be one of the means of lead poisoning treatment.

1,344 children were volunteered as the participants and they were aged between 3 and 5 years. This was the first to study the link between breakfast and blood lead levels in children.

10. You are Diabetic? Forget the Breakfast, Mediterranean Diet has Everything Under Control

I know this sounds little off topic and I just want to make sure I include something about the Mediterranean diet and its significance. Well traditionally, mediterranean diet are not meant to be eaten in breakfast, but one should not undervalue the importance of it. A study at Linköping University in Sweden suggested that it is better to have one large meal, neither low-fat nor low-carbohydrate, than having several other meals throughout the day, especially for the patients with diabetes.

When researchers examined the effect on blood glucose and blood lipids by giving low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet and a Mediterranean diet on patients with type 2 diabetes, they found that patients who consumed low-fat diet could get required amount of nutrient composition with around 55% of the total energy derived from carbohydrates. And the patients with low-carbohydrate diet could get approximately 20 percent of the energy from carbohydrates and about 50 percent of the total energy from fat. However, the energy obtained from the mediterranean diet came from carbohydrates that was intermediate between the low-fat and the low-carbohydrate meals and it had all the caloric constituents complementary to breakfast and lunch. Also, mediterranean diet do not increase blood glucose levels and it has been shown to increase longevity.

So this is it. It is up to you to decide what to eat in breakfast and what not to, but do keep in mind that what you eat can affect your body in different ways. Some effects can be useful and some can be devastating.

Well, what do you eat for breakfast? Am I missing something here?

56 comments

  1. EXCELLENT! SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR HEALTH YOU HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT. WE GET SO LOST IN OUR DAILY CHAOTIC LIVES THAT WE FORGET THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

  2. Wow, breakfast is really important…

    Damn…

    But i suppose you can’t blame not having a good breakfast, for stupidity and health problems?

    i see that you stopped by for a read!

    Thank you,

    chris

  3. Have worked in Stockholm a very expensive city to stay in away from home and my eyes light up at breakfast time as the tables are laden with wonderful foods and you can go back as many times as you want – so we almost didnt need to eat the rest of the day … maybe this is taking breakfast too far but for us it was to save money 🙂

  4. Your blog is really awesome. Makes me conscious about what I really ought to be eating for breakfast. This is so informative in so many levels that I can’t help but be grateful for your thoroughness. Again, thank you for sharing this and for also stopping by loveshungrypoet.

  5. Ugh you’re right about breakfast being skipped sometimes. When I use to work the morning shift at my last job, I though hey i should grab some breakfast. But that usually ended up with me going to Micky D’s or Jack n The Box and getting a burrito or mc muffin sandwich…not the most healthy alternative. Although now that I am currently searching for some “indentured service”, I find myself eating more hearty, a bit more healthy. I guess I could eat more fruits and veggies though. The only thing I need to work on now is getting a better sleep cycle. Great post 🙂

  6. I’m usually a coffee girl until about 10:30ish, then I’m starving. Maybe time to reconsider my mornings. Thanks for sharing!

      1. not always an easy task to do. on my running days I can’t eat anything until 1-2 hours after running, or I’ll risk stomach problems, cramps etc.
        Do not believe there is one rule for everyone. not everything and not always works the same. glad it works for you though. 🙂

      2. not so much of a habit actually – it is just something I developed recently, when I started running. on non-running days I do not push breakfast past 9-10am 😀

  7. I have terrible breakfast habits – as in, I never eat it. I never feel hungry waking up, it takes hours before I feel ready. I’ve tried to curb this before but it never sticks. Shameful.

  8. This is just so essential to know for everyone. Such a brilliant masterpiece tips and guide to a pure healthy life. God bless you for putting it here. My life is definitely changing after this. Thanks

  9. I strongly believe in your introductory quote!
    I start my morning by having a spoonful of olive oil,then I make a pulp using lemon juice,tahini,honey and cinammon.A cup of crocus tea is also very good for you and I never miss to have one along with a slice of bread which is made with organic wholemeal flour from Zea.

    Zea is probably the oldest cereal of this world and stood for a key component in the diet of Ancient Greeks. It features an undeniable nutritional value and it is no coincidence that the etymology of the ancient Greek word “ζείδωρος” (zeidoros) meaning “life giving” comes from this particular cereal.

    PS: I find your posts very informative and stimulating.Thank you 🙂 Doda

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