Skipping breakfast to lose weight

Does skipping breakfast help you lose weight?

Pawel Malczewski
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Short summary

Skipping breakfast will make you crave high calorie food and throughout the day you will compensate for it by choosing food that will most likely contribute to insulin resistance and therefore weight gain. For a quick answer click here.

Explanation

Scientists have found by using MRI images of the brain that after a period of fasting, that we experience a hunger or craving for high calorie foods.

Three regions in the brain: the ventral striatum, insula and amygdala are responsible for reward, craving and emotion experience and increase of activity when people subjected to fasting are shown pictures of high caloric foods.

Pictures of high caloric foods register a greater brain activation than low caloric foods. (1)Goldstone AP, Prechtl de Hernandez C, Muhammed K, Bell G, Durighel G, Hughes E, et al. Increased desire for food when fasted is associated with increased activation of the ventral striatum, insula and amygdala in humans. Endocrine Abstracts (2008) 15 P204. Available here. (2)De Silva A, Salem V, Matthews PM, Dhillo WS. The Use of Functional MRI to Study Appetite Control in the CNS. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 764017, 13 pages. Available here.

In an experiment conducted in the documentary “10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight” you can see MRI images of the brain showing differences in brain responses to high and low caloric foods after skipping breakfast.

The basic explanation is that the brain responds to Ghrelin – a hormone that is released when the stomach is empty.

The brain’s interpretation of Ghrelin’s message is that fuel will be needed soon, resulting in a powerful feeling of a need for high calorie food to compensate for a lost meal. (3)Klok MD, Jakobsdottir S, Drent ML. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007 Jan;8(1):21-34. Available here.

Conclusion

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If the meal is not skipped and the usual, gentler response to hunger is felt, a light meal seems to be more preferable.

The primitive response to hunger which is usually stronger than our will-power will cause cravings for high energy foods.

References   [ + ]

1. Goldstone AP, Prechtl de Hernandez C, Muhammed K, Bell G, Durighel G, Hughes E, et al. Increased desire for food when fasted is associated with increased activation of the ventral striatum, insula and amygdala in humans. Endocrine Abstracts (2008) 15 P204. Available here.
2. De Silva A, Salem V, Matthews PM, Dhillo WS. The Use of Functional MRI to Study Appetite Control in the CNS. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 764017, 13 pages. Available here.
3. Klok MD, Jakobsdottir S, Drent ML. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007 Jan;8(1):21-34. Available here.

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