The food that keeps your weight down

In the struggle for slimness, you need every advantage you can get your fork on. Research at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) shows there’s an important food that can satisfy your hunger and help keep you from overeating.

That helpful food: breakfast food.

Studies have shown that if you skip breakfast you are much more likely to gain weight. The study at MU, which looked at brain reactions of adolescents when they ate breakfast, found that eating first thing in the morning increases the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a natural brain substance that makes you feel rewarded and can boost your resistance to food cravings.

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

Leidy points out that when breakfast stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain you are often bathed in pleasant feelings of satisfaction. Those feelings can help you get out of the kitchen (or fast food emporium) and stop eating so much.

“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 says. “To counteract the tendencies to overeat and to prevent weight gain that occurs as a result of overeating, we tried to identify dietary behaviors 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.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.