Though it’s a controversial point of view, a little sweetness at breakfast may actually help people on a low-calorie meal plan, according to a new study published in the March 10th issue of the journal Steroids.
Scientists took a randomized sample of 144 obese people (ages 20-65) and put them on identical 1,400 (women) – 1,600 (men) calorie diets, except that one sample group ate a high-carb, protein-enriched 600-calorie breakfast with their choice of chocolate cookies, cake or ice cream for dessert. Researchers had participants eat their sweets in the morning, when the body’s metabolism is most active and participants had the entire day to work off the extra calories.
During the study, participants were tested for glucose, lipid, insulin and ghrelin (the appetite-stimulating hormone). Over the course of 16 weeks, the average weight loss in each group was identical at 32 pounds. Yet, during the 16-week follow-up period, researchers discovered that the dessert-eating dieters had lost an additional 13 pounds on average, while the other group gained back 28.5 pounds!
Breakfast is the best meal to regulate the ghrelin hunger hormone, explains lead researcher Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz of Tel Aviv University. “The group that consumed a bigger breakfast, including dessert, experienced few – if any – cravings for these foods later in the day. The participants in the low-carbohydrate diet group had less satisfaction and felt they were not full.” Many of these participants broke down and cheated after the initial weight loss period ended.
“Most people simply regain weight, no matter what diet they are on,” said Dr. Jakubowicz. However, she adds, “If you eat what you like, you decrease cravings.” The study revealed that just a small sliver of cake can be an important tool in the battle against the bulge.
Nutrition experts warn that this study should not be viewed as a free-for-all to indulge in large bowls of ice cream or choose dessert instead of our normal breakfast. A similar German study of 300 people last year came to a different conclusion – that people ate the same size lunch and dinner, regardless of whether they had a large breakfast or not. Also, nutritionists argue that eating a balanced breakfast — that contains lean protein and complex carbs — is more likely to be the key to sustainable weight loss. Furthermore, it’s also important to remember that it’s best to avoid eating refined sugar and carbohydrates found in many desserts, as it may increase the risk of diabetes and cancer.