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3 Weird Things Breakfast Does To Your Brain

How and when you break your fast can make or break your day.

The day's purportedly most important meal is more than meets the eye: science shows that the when and what of your breakfast transforms how your mind works the rest of the day.

How so? As a new paper published in the Frontiers of Human Neuroscience argues, breaking your fast is a many-faceted thing. Authors Tanya and Eugene Zilberter scoop up platefuls of research on meals and contend that breakfast in many ways shapes who you are—whether you can handle glucose or not, how old you are, and other factors—and what you're eating has different outcomes for your mental life.

Breakfast is really, really good for kids.

When schools have breakfast, their students do way better. So maybe having meals at work might be a boon, too.

You probably want to eat rice.

The staple food you eat affects the way your brain grows. A 2010 Japanese study tracked the brains of students whose breakfasts were based on rice versus those based on bread. The rice eaters, the authors found, had significantly higher volumes of gray matter, which is associated with a higher IQ.

Don't load up on carbs

A Swiss study found that the ratio of carbohydrates to proteins in your breakfast affects your thinking through your morning. People who ate a protein-rich or balanced breakfast had higher cognitive performance than those who ate mostly carbohydrates.

So put the cereal away.

Hat tip: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

[Image: Flickr user Adrian Dreßler]

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  • Michael N. Marcus

    How about a Mississippi breakfast: a six pack of beer and a pack of Luckies.

  • A quick thought: took three statistics courses and the one thing they constantly reiterate is not to confuse causation with correlation.

  • Michael N. Marcus

    How about a Mississippi breakfast: a six pack of bear and a pack of Luckies.

  • Steve Kravitz

    "You probably want to eat rice."

    "Don't load up on carbs."

    Does this guy even read his own copy? Obviously the editors don't. Unless they were too busy taking their afternoon kindergarten nappy-poo to be bothered to proofread it.

    Fast Company - the Buzzfeed of the future!!! :-)

  • ThomasVeil

    The rice eating is only for children in the study as far as I see. Also find it kind of funny to make a typical "3 rules" posting, from a study that says in the title "no single recipe". Guess people just can't help themselves.

  • JustSaying

    Have you ever read studies on intermittent fasting? It seems to run contrary to this article. I have been doing IF for over 8 months and I can say that there has been no effect on my cognition.

  • Piarwood

    2nd of this person's 'blogs' - am realising he knows nothing and can't write for bum. His photo looks like he hasn't actually done a day's work in his life...

  • Cathy Aron

    So watch what you eat for breakfast is the main message here. What then, is an ideal breakfast, I wonder?

  • Chris

    Um... this is from the abstract:  "In this opinion article, we argue against the prevalent viewpoint of the
    universal benefits of BF by selectively highlighting issues
    demonstrating the complexity of the cognitive effects"

  • deedee

    Hmm interesting. Just a thought...What if those kids who ate rice were from wealthier families, thus have a better education, etc.  so no surprise they're smarter. Eating rice also requires you to sit down, have a proper meal. Many "bread eaters' may be on the go and rushing out the door, so that affect their day as well.

  • Joffre (J.D.) Meyer

    Plus, those rice-eating Japanese go to K-12 school for 220 days/year instead of 180 days/year in the USA.

  • Kate in Brooklyn

    I don't think this has to do with wealth at all. In Korea, all our meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) are centered around rice. And you don't necessarily have to sit down; there are rice balls, kimbap (rice rolled with seaweed like sushi), and other quick on-the-go meals. And actually, as families gain wealth, they become more westernized and mimic American eating habits -- primarily cereal, bread, muffins, poptarts, etc, which are not whole grains like (brown) rice is.