It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Solid evidence comes from doctors specializing in weight loss at Tel Aviv University (the largest university in Israel). A 2012 research study demonstrates incorporating a small amount of something sweet into breakfast can actually help us lose weight and keep it off.
Researchers divided 200 obese individuals into two groups. Both groups consumed the same number of total calories each day. There were differences in calorie distribution and the foods consumed.
Group 1 ate a low-carbohydrate diet with a 300-calorie breakfast to start each day.
Group 2 was not on a low-carbohydrate diet. These folks ate a balanced 600-calorie breakfast that included lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and…DESSERT!
Half way through the eight-month study, all participants had experienced weight loss. The average weight loss was 33 pounds per person.
During the second half of the study, Group 1 (the folks on the low-carb diet with the 300-calorie breakfast) regained some of the weight they lost. On average, they gained back 22 pounds each. Yikes!
The astounding part is what happened to Group 2 (the 600-calorie breakfast peeps). Those participants eating the high-calorie breakfast that included dessert continued to lose weight! On average, they lost an extra 15 pounds each.
How can this be?
It’s because there is much more to successful long-term weight loss than calories in, calories out.
That’s old school thinking we need to forget. We would do better to consider these facts:
- We’re all unique and our bodies use the foods we eat differently. In other words, everyone doesn’t metabolize (break down and use) food at the same rate.
- When we eat certain foods this impacts what our bodies crave and how we choose to eat for the rest of the day.
- Most of us do not want to stop eating until we feel full and satisfied. That’s biochemical and psychological, both important factors when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
- We all think about food differently (as comfort, as fuel, for pleasure, etc.).
All these factors (and others) make a BIG difference in whether or not we achieve successful weight loss. This logic applies to those research study participants, too.
Group 1, the low-carb folks with no A.M. sweet treat reported less satisfaction and that they never really felt full. Lack of satisfaction made them cheat on their diet and in turn, consume more late-day calories. Those late-day splurges tended to be high-sugar simple carbohydrate foods that drain the metabolism and encourage fat storage.
Individuals in Group 2 reported feeling full and satisfied after their hearty (and decadent!) breakfast. This helped curb sweet cravings and remove the focus from food the rest of the day, preventing late-day splurges.
How to Use the Study Findings to Benefit You
Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m telling you. I do not recommend we all begin over-indulging in dessert every morning (or any time, for that matter). I believe in whole foods nutrition, balance and moderation. There is no shame in, and should be no guilt associated with, enjoying all the foods we love, including an indulgent treat, on occasion.
As we continue to enjoy our balanced gluten-free lifestyle and incorporate lots of high-quality lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and yes, even the occasional cookie, here are a couple points to keep in mind:
- The body’s metabolism is most active in the morning. If you’re going to consume sweets, that’s the ideal time to do so because the body is more efficient at burning those calories. In addition, we have the rest of the day to work off extra calories through daily activities.
- Eating foods like cookies or chocolate as part of a breakfast that also includes lean proteins (from either plant or animal sources) and complex carbohydrates (like fruits and veggies) can help reduce the craving for sweets later in the day.
Some Sweet Treats to Start Your Day
If you’re ready to sweeten up your mornings, try desserts with a little nutrition packed in like these gluten-free treats:
And of course, be sure to try my Perfect Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Then, to keep that balance we all need, pair a modest portion of your sweet treat with healthy dishes. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Homemade Low-Sugar Granola and Dairy Free Yogurt
Gluten Free Naan Bread topped with your favorite protein and avocado