Can Thinking Hard Really Make You Hungry?

Food is quite literally fuel, for both the body and mind. Registered dietitian nutritionists stress the importance of eating before a workout, but you'll want to do the same before a busy day of studying.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It stabilizes our glucose levels, which is important if we need to be alert and attentive throughout the day (via Better Health Channel). Some of our personal favorite foods to have in the morning include breakfast sandwiches and smoothie bowls.

However, skipping breakfast on a busy day affects not only your body, but also your psychological mechanisms. That's not just an expansion of the folk wisdom about important meals. According to Scientific American, glucose levels and insulin levels fluctuate more than usual when you are engaged in academic activity. This causes people to typically eat more after a long day of desk-bound work compared to one full of sitting and relaxing.

The science behind mental activity and food

Scientific American cites a study conducted by Psychosomatic Medicine in which 14 Canadian students were asked to do varying tasks — some academic and some just sitting and relaxing. The researchers learned that the students only burned three more extra calories when thinking very hard versus the sedentary activity.

However, they were much more hungry after the text summation and memory and attention tasks, and ate 203 and 253 additional calories after these two assignments. This raises some concern from scientists, who think that combined with a more desk-bound lifestyle, students are more susceptible to obesity.

The takeaway? If you're still in school, you should know the importance of keeping yourself fueled throughout the day. According to The Real Life RD, undereating can sometimes lead to binge eating later in the day, as your body gets this psychological craving for food.

So eat before that major exam. There's a very good chance you'll end up doing better that way.