Health experts advocate that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why most doctors strictly advise against skipping the same. However, a new study indicates that breakfast may not only affect an individual's health, but may also influence their decision-making throughout the day.
Scientists at the University of Luebeck, Germany, conducted the new study which aims to establish a link between food one consumes during breakfast and the subsequent decisions made as a result of these foods. In particular, researchers focused on the effects of two specific kinds of breakfast diet and its influence.
Researchers studied the effects on decision making after a low carbohydrate/high protein diet and also after a high carbohydrate/low protein diet.
Does Breakfast Influence Your Decision-Making?
Luebeck University's researcher Soyoung Park and his team conducted the study. The research was conducted in two distinct phases. In the first phase, the scientists asked 87 college going students to take part in the online version of the "ultimatum game."
This game is designed to give players the opportunity to either accept or reject unfair financial offers from the opponent. If a player rejects the offer, neither they nor the opponent gets any money. From a logical standpoint, players should accept all offers because rejecting means they will get nothing.
However, most times a player rejects the unfair offer as a way of punishing their opponent for extending such a measly sum.
After the game was played, the 87 subjects disclosed to researchers what they had for breakfast that morning. It was discovered that 53 percent of the people who had eaten a high-carb breakfast rejected the offers made in the game compared to around 25 percent of the subjects who had a low-carb breakfast and rejected the offers.
The second phase included 24 men who were asked to join the researchers in the lab and consume a controlled breakfast before playing the ultimatum game. The results were once again similar to the study's first phase i.e. those who ate a low-carb breakfast rejected less offer compared to those with high-carb breakfast diets.
Park shared that the results were impacted most likely because of dopamine level changes. He said that with high-carb breakfast diets, the amino acid level i.e. tyrosine decreased. This increased the hormone dopamine's secretion, which is linked to the brain's "reward system."
The Study's Limitations
Researchers around the world stated that although interesting, the study's results were preliminary at best.
"I doubt we can draw any conclusion on how to best manage our social interactions with food," Dr. Luca Giliberto, a New York neurologist, shared.
Other scientists also pointed out several of the study's limitations. They said that the sample size was very small and a larger group of subjects needs to be studied to reach conclusive results. Furthermore, the diets of these people were not tightly controlled. For instance, while the group was given measured quantity of carbohydrates and proteins, but other nutrients such as fats were not controlled.
The study's results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, June 12.