Tel Aviv – When it comes to diets, cookies and cake are off the menu. But 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.
The 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 pounds more than a group that avoided such foods. What’s more, they kept off the pounds longer.
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. 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 of the biggest challenges people face is keeping weight off in the long term, says Prof. Jakubowicz. 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.
Ultimately, a diet must be realistic to be adopted as part of a new lifestyle. Curbing cravings is better than deprivation for weight loss success, Prof. Jakubowicz concludes.
Distributed by American Friends of Tel Aviv University (www.aftau.org)