Eating breakfast boosts dopamine and regulates overeating and cravings

Posted on October 20, 2014

Photo: flickr

A new study has found that eating breakfast, especially foods rich in protein, increases the levels of a brain chemical associated with feelings of reward, which can help reduce food cravings and overeating later in the day.

Research showed that people experience a dramatic decline in cravings for sweet foods when they eat breakfast. 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.

Eating initiates a release of dopamine, which stimulates feelings of food reward. The reward response is an important part of eating because it helps to regulate food intake. 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. Similar responses are seen within breakfast-skippers.

To counteract the tendencies to overeat and to prevent weight gain that occurs as a result of overeating, dietary behaviors that provide these feelings of reward while reducing cravings for high-fat foods have been identified. Eating breakfast, particularly a breakfast high in protein, seems to do that.

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Source material from Psych Central