Dessert lovers, rejoice! According to a new study, eating cake, chocolate or cookies with our breakfast can help us lose weight. Something about feeling fuller, satisfying cravings, blah, blah, blah…all we know is that they had us at dessert. But is this too good to be true? Pretty much.
Published in the March issue of Steroids, a team of Israeli researchers took 193 obese people between ages 20 and 65 and assigned them to one of two diets that were almost identical except for breakfast. One diet included a low-carb breakfast, while the other contained a high-carb, protein-enriched breakfast with a choice of one of dessert.
After 16 weeks of dieting, both groups lost similar amounts of weight–33 pounds in the non-dessert group and 30 pounds in the dessert group. But, here’s the kicker: Those in the dessert-eating group kept more of their weight off. After 32 weeks, the non-sweet eaters gained more than 25 of those pounds back, while the sweet-eaters only regained 15 pounds.
So what gives? Is this really too delicious to be true?
Possibly. The researchers explained this phenomenon by saying that most of the dessert-eaters didn’t have as many cravings throughout the day–something that causes too many dieters to fail in the long-run. The study found that people in the dessert group reduced their craving hormone levels by 45%, while those who didn’t start their day off with sweets only reduced levels by 29.5%. Meaning, people in the dessert group were fuller and less hungry throughout the day.
Study author, Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz, told the New York Times this type of approach can help us balance those cravings and make us more successful in our weight control:
Most people simply regain weight, no matter what diet they are on. But if you eat what you like, you decrease cravings. The cake – a small piece – is important.
Other experts say we shouldn’t use this as a license to sit down with chocolate cake and the newspaper each morning.
Kristen Smith, a clinical nutritionist in bariatric surgery at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told HealthPop that we need to take this research with a grain of salt (or sugar, as the case may be):
This study was relatively short-term, so I’m not sure how these participants would have responded if they were followed for a longer period of time.
She also said other studies have showed high-sugar foods, like cake or cookies, could increase sugar cravings throughout the day. And, similar to what we thought all along, Smith believes the high-protein breakfast–not the desserts–made the patients feel fuller for a longer period of time. Darn.