When it came to advice, mom was always right: Wash behind your ears, brush your teeth and eat your cereal. It’s an age-old tale that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what you may not know is that recent studies have found that eating your early morning meal not only gives you energy but can also curb your appetite for the rest of the day.
Researchers say eating breakfast increases dopamine levels in the brain, which are involved with controlling impulses when it comes to cravings for sweets and urges to overeat.
When we eat, dopamine is released in our brain and stimulates feelings of reward. Dopamine acts as a signal within our body that lets us know when our appetite is satisfied, regulating our food intake. Individuals who are overweight or obese suffer from stunted dopamine levels, which mean they require more sMtimulation from food to develop those feelings of reward. Thus, they continue to overeat in order to reach normal dopamine levels.
The researchers believe that as dopamine levels increase, food cravings and the desire to overeat lessen. Those who ate a complete breakfast in the study experienced a decline in cravings for sweet stuff later in the day … and their dopamine levels remained steady well into the lunch hour.
Studies show the most beneficial breakfast is balanced with high amounts of protein, such as a meal full of fruits, whole grains, eggs or yogurt.
Over the last 50 years, fewer American adults, kids and teens have been eating breakfast. At the same time, there has been an increase in obesity. More than one-third of American teenagers are overweight or obese and more than one-third of adults are obese. This makes researchers wonder if skipping breakfast and weight gain are linked.
So if you’re looking to stay full until lunchtime, listen to mom and eat your breakfast.