If skipping breakfast has ever left you with a craving for some high-calorie mac and cheese or a big, juicy burger, a small new study might explain the reason why.
Researchers at the MRC Clinical Science Centre at Imperial College in London found that there is more brain activation in response to high-calorie items when a person has skipped breakfast, compared with when a person has had their morning meal.
"Through both the participants' MRI results and observations of how much they ate at lunch, we found ample evidence that fasting made people hungrier, and increased the appeal of high-calorie foods and the amount people ate," study researcher Dr. Tony Goldstone, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement.
The study included 21 male volunteers who were asked not to eat anything before coming in for the study for two visits. On one visit, they were fed a 750-calorie breakfast before undergoing an MRI brain scan where they looked at images of high-calorie foods. They were then fed lunch.
The second visit, they weren't fed any breakfast before undergoing the brain scan where they looked at high-calorie foods. After the brain scans, they were fed lunch.
Researchers found that activity in the orbitofrontal cortex -- the part of the brain that plays a part in reward and pleasantness from food -- was different when the participants were fed breakfast, compared with when they fasted from breakfast.
Specifically, researchers found that the orbitofrontal cortex was more activated when the participants hadn't eaten breakfast.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience; because it has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, its findings should be regarded as preliminary.
The findings back up prior research on negative ways skipping breakfast can affect your body and brain. Click through the slideshow for more: