Anyone who has been on a calorie restricted diet will know the feeling of not being able to think of anything else but food! Longing for a slice of chocolate cake can be all that you are able to concentrate on when trying to shed the extra kilos, but according to a new study, if you eat your favourite dessert foods at breakfast, it will not only help you lose weight, but help you to keep it off.
Professor 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 Professor Oren Froy of Hebrew University Jerusalem were initially interested in what influence meal timing and composition had on weight loss and maintenance.
The study consisted on 193 clinically obese, non-diabetic adults who were randomly split into two groups. Although both groups consumed the same amount of calories per day (men 1600 and women 1400) the first group were given a small low carbohydrate, 300 calorie breakfast and the second were given a 600 calorie high protein and carbohydrate breakfast that always included a dessert cake.
Published in the journal Steroids, the study showed that half way through the 32-week program, both groups had lost the same amount of weight, but by the end of the program the second group of participants who added dessert to their breakfast cookies, cake, or chocolate, lost an average of 18 kilos more than a group that avoided such foods.
"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," Professor Jakubowicz said. "Attempting to avoid sweets entirely can create a psychological addiction to these same foods in the long term. Adding dessert items to breakfast can control cravings throughout the rest of the day."
This can be seen often when dieters stray from their diet due to withdrawal-like symptoms, or even when they have achieved their goal weight, fall off the wagon and are compelled to eat the foods that they have missed out on for so long.
Professor Jakubowicz claims that hunger and addiction are the two forces that compel the obese to ingest fattening foods; therefore it is essential that the diet focuses on the control of these two forces, and eating ones favourite foods at breakfast time while on a calorie restricted diet, can achieve that.
During the study the scientists found that ghrelin, the hormone that gives off hunger signals is best regulated at breakfast time, "While the level of ghrelin rises before every meal, it is suppressed most effectively at breakfast time," Professor Jakubowicz said.
"Highly restrictive diets that forbid desserts and carbohydrates are initially effective, but often cause dieters 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."
However if the dieter is restricted to a limited amount of calories per day, wouldn't it be more important to have the very best nutrients from your diet? For a woman on a 1400 calorie diet, one piece of chocolate cake is almost one quarter of her calorie intake for the day.
By replacing non-nutrient dense foods such as cake you may be missing out on essential vitamins, minerals, good fats and protein needed for bodily functions and to prevent disease.
Prof. Jakubowicz is the author of the book, 'The big breakfast diet: Eat big before 9 a.m. and lose big for life'.