Eating breakfast before exercising improves cognitive functioning, study finds

Does skipping breakfast truly impair brain functioning? Previous research has suggested that this might be the case, and a team of scientists recently confirmed the theory.

In a 2016 study published in Physiology & Behavior, researchers tested ten male participants to determine the role of breakfast in working memory and executive functioning.

The day before the main portion of the experiment was conducted, participants completed a series of 30 trials of a task designed to measure working memory and executive functioning.

The next day, participants completed the same tasks in the morning. Afterward, half of the participants ate a breakfast of two rice balls—a food rich in carbohydrates that quickly increases blood glucose concentration—and waited two hours. Then, participants completed the tasks again while using a cycle ergometer and with a heart rate of 140.

The results showed that the group who consumed breakfast completed the cognitive tasks significantly more accurately than the group who omitted breakfast. However, both groups improved during exercise when compared with their previous scores.

“These results suggest that breakfast omission impairs executive function,” said Takaaki Komiyama, principal investigator of the study.

“Nevertheless, acute moderate exercise improves executive function following breakfast omission as well as breakfast consumption,” Komiyama continued.

Scientists report that further investigation and research is necessary to determine the specific effects that breakfast omission has on exercise and cognitive functioning.