Breakfast glycaemic index and exercise: combined effects on adolescents' cognition

Physiol Behav. 2015 Feb;139:104-11. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.11.024. Epub 2014 Nov 13.

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine the combined effects of breakfast glycaemic index (GI) and a mid-morning bout of exercise on adolescents' cognitive function. Participants were randomly allocated to a high or low GI breakfast group in a mixed research design, where each participant completed two experimental trials (exercise and resting). Forty-two adolescents (12.4±0.5 years old), undertook a bout of exercise (ten repeats of level one of the multi-stage fitness test; exercise trial) or continued to rest (resting trial) following consumption of either a high or low GI breakfast. A battery of cognitive function tests (visual search test, Stroop test and Sternberg paradigm) was completed 30 min before and 45 min following the exercise. Average heart rate during exercise was 170±15 beats·min(-1). On the complex level of the Stroop test, response times improved across the morning following the low GI breakfast on both the exercise and resting trials, though the improvement was greatest on the exercise trial. However, response times only improved on the resting trial following the high GI breakfast (p=0.012). On the 5 letter level of the Sternberg paradigm, response times improved across the morning following the low GI breakfast (regardless of exercise) and only on the exercise trial following the high GI breakfast (p=0.019). The findings of the present study suggest that the combined effects of breakfast GI and exercise in adolescents depend upon the component of cognitive function examined. A low GI breakfast and mid-morning bout of exercise were individually beneficial for response times on the Sternberg paradigm, whereas they conferred additional benefits for response times on the Stroop test.

Keywords: Acute exercise; Attention; Breakfast glycaemic index; Visual search; Working memory; Youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Glucose
  • Breakfast*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Substances

  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates