Breakfast consumption and exercise interact to affect cognitive performance and mood later in the day. A randomized controlled trial

Appetite. 2013 Sep;68:38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.04.011. Epub 2013 Apr 20.


The current study assessed the interactive effect of breakfast and exercise on cognition and mood. Twelve active males completed four trials; no breakfast-rest, breakfast-rest, no breakfast-exercise or breakfast-exercise in a randomized, cross-over design. The trials consisted of; breakfast or fast, a 2h rest, exercise (treadmill run) or equivalent rest, a chocolate milk drink, a 90 min rest and an ad libitum lunch. Cognitive performance and mood were recorded frequently throughout each trial. Data was analysed as pre-exercise/rest, during and immediately post exercise/rest and post-drink. No effects were found prior to consumption of the drink. Post-drink, fasting before exercise increased mental fatigue compared to consuming breakfast before exercise and fasting before rest. Tension increased when breakfast was consumed at rest and when exercise was undertaken fasted compared to omitting breakfast before rest. Breakfast before rest decreased rapid visual information processing task speed and impaired Stroop performance. Breakfast omission improved Four Choice Reaction Time performance. To conclude, breakfast before exercise appeared beneficial for post-exercise mood even when a post-exercise snack was consumed. Exercise reversed post-breakfast cognitive impairment in active males.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology*
  • Breakfast / physiology
  • Breakfast / psychology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Eating / physiology
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Mental Fatigue / psychology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Running
  • Stroop Test / statistics & numerical data
  • Task Performance and Analysis