Dessert With Breakfast Can Help Dieters Keep Weight Off

By Chelsea Whyte on June 27, 2012 5:55 PM EDT

pink donut
A sweet treat with breakfast may be the trick to losing weight and keeping it off. (Photo: Creative Commons: Pink Sherbet)

It's been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and now, you might need to add a little dessert to your eggs and bacon to get the most out of your meal.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University's Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel found that dieters have fewer cravings and hunger pangs throughout the day and are better able to keep off lost weight if they eat a carbohydrate-rich, protein-packed breakfast that includes dessert. They are presenting the results of their study at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Houston.

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In a test on 200 obese adults who did not have diabetes, lead author Daniela Jakubowicz and her team separated the participants into two groups that were each fed one of two low-calorie diets. While both diets had the same number of calories - 1,600 for men and 1,400 for women - one featured a low-carb breakfast without sweets and the other had six times more carbs and included a treat like a donut, cake or cookie.

Those in the dessert breakfast group ate 20 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, nearly 50 percent from protein and about 30 percent from fat, reports The Huffington Post. By contrast, the low-carb breakfast group ate about 11 to 13 percent of calories from carbohydrates and 44 to 52 percent protein and 38-43.5 percent for fat.

Halfway through the eight-month study, participants in both groups lost an average of 33 pounds per person, which Jakubowicz said shows that "both diets work the same."

However, in the last four months of the study, the low-carb group regained an average of 22 pounds per person, while participants who ate the dessert with breakfast diet lost another 15 pounds each, the authors reported.

"The goal of a weight loss diet should be not only weight reduction but also reduction of hunger and cravings, thus helping prevent weight regain," Jakubowicz said.

The researchers found that for the participants who ate sweets with breakfast, the levels of ghrelin, the so-called "hunger hormone," dropped by nearly 45 percent after breakfast, compared to a drop of 30 percent by the low-carb group.

Not all nutritionists are on board with the study's findings.

"A combination of protein and carbohydrates may have kept these study volunteers satisfied, but you have to pay attention to the quality of foods you're eating, too," said clinical nutritionist Lauren Graf at Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "You don't want to encourage people to eat a lot of foods with trans fats, like doughnuts, cookies and cakes."

Jakubowicz maintains that taking in some sweets is an important part of successful dieting.

"Most people simply regain weight, no matter what diet they are on," she told The New York Times when the work was first published. "But if you eat what you like, you decrease cravings. The cake - a small piece - is important."

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