Top off breakfast with -- chocolate cake?

February 7, 2012, Tel Aviv University

When it comes to diets, cookies and cake are off the menu. Now, in a surprising discovery, researchers from Tel Aviv University have found that dessert, as part of a balanced 600-calorie breakfast that also includes proteins and carbohydrates, can help dieters to lose more weight — and keep it off in the long run.

They key is to indulge in the morning, when the body's metabolism is at its most active and we are better able to work off the extra calories throughout the day, say Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz, Dr. Julio Wainstein and Dr. Mona Boaz of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Diabetes Unit at Wolfson Medical Center, and Prof. Oren Froy of Hebrew University Jerusalem.

Attempting to avoid sweets entirely can create a psychological addiction to these same foods in the long-term, explains Prof. Jakubowicz. Adding dessert items to breakfast can control cravings throughout the rest of the day. Over the course of a 32 week-long study, detailed in the journal Steroids, participants who added dessert to their breakfast — cookies, cake, or chocolate — lost an average of 40 lbs. more than a group that avoided such foods. What's more, they kept off the pounds longer.

The scale tells the tale

A meal in the morning provides energy for the day's tasks, aids in brain functioning, and kick-starts the body's metabolism, making it crucial for weight loss and maintenance. And breakfast is the meal that most successfully regulates ghrelin, the hormone that increases hunger, explains Prof. Jakubowicz. While the level of ghrelin rises before every meal, it is suppressed most effectively at breakfast time.

Basing their study on this fact, the researchers hoped to determine whether meal time and composition impacted weight loss in the short and long term, says Prof. Jakubowicz, or if it was a simple matter of calorie count.

One hundred and ninety three clinically obese, non-diabetic adults were randomly assigned to one of two diet groups with identical caloric intake — the men consumed 1600 calories per day and the women 1400. However, the first group was given a low carbohydrate diet including a small 300 calorie breakfast, and the second was given a 600 calorie breakfast high in and carbohydrates, always including a dessert item (i.e. chocolate).

Halfway through the study, participants in both groups had lost an average of 33 lbs. per person. But in the second half of the study, results differed drastically. The participants in the low-carbohydrate group regained an average of 22 lbs. per person, but participants in the group with a larger breakfast lost another 15 lbs. each. At the end of the 32 weeks, those who had consumed a 600 calorie breakfast had lost an average of 40 lbs. more per person than their peers.

Realistic in the long run

One of the biggest challenges that people face is keeping weight off in the long-term, says Prof. Jakubowicz. Ingesting a higher proportion of our daily calories at breakfast makes sense. It's not only good for body function, but it also alleviates cravings. Highly restrictive diets that forbid desserts and carbohydrates are initially effective, but often cause to stray from their food plans as a result of withdrawal-like symptoms. They wind up regaining much of the weight they lost during the diet proper.

Though they consumed the same daily amount of calories, "the participants in the low diet group had less satisfaction, and felt that they were not full," she says, noting that their cravings for sugars and carbohydrates were more intense and eventually caused them to cheat on the diet plan. "But the group that consumed a bigger breakfast, including dessert, experienced few if any cravings for these foods later in the day."

Ultimately, this shows that a must be realistic to be adopted as part of a new lifestyle. Curbing cravings is better than deprivation for success, Prof. Jakubowicz concludes.

Explore further: Limiting carbs, not calories, reduces liver fat faster, researchers find

Related Stories

Limiting carbs, not calories, reduces liver fat faster, researchers find

April 19, 2011
Curbing carbohydrates is more effective than cutting calories for individuals who want to quickly reduce the amount of fat in their liver, report UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers.

Mid-morning snacking may sabotage weight-loss efforts

November 28, 2011
Women dieters who grab a snack between breakfast and lunch lose less weight compared to those who abstain from a mid-morning snack, according to a study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.