(RxWiki News) To start the day off right, kickstart your diet and keep the pounds off, here's a strange new piece of advice: have a cupcake, a cookie or chocolate ice cream with breakfast.
Eating a balanced breakfast with proteins, carbohydrates and a dessert, totaling about 600 calories, could be a healthy way to start the day - plus it helped a study group lose 40 extra pounds.
"Limit your calories to lose weight."
According to lead author Daniela Jakubowicz and colleagues at the Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Diabetes Unit at Wolfson Medical Center in Israel, the key to a successful diet is a realistic plan that doesn't completely deprive people of what they crave.
Based on their study of two groups on low-calorie diets, the morning is the best time to indulge.
For one thing, the hormone that stimulates hunger, called ghrelin, is most easily satisfied with morning meals, the researchers note. The body's metabolism is also most active in the morning, and it's easier to work off extra calories throughout the day if they're consumed earlier in the day, Jakubowicz's team said.
Plus, Jakubowicz said swearing off sweets completely can backfire: people desire the forbidden fruit even more and may eventually create a psychological addiction to the very foods they're trying to avoid.
But giving in to the cravings - in small doses - at breakfast time can help keep them under control. This is crucial for long-term maintenance of lost weight.
Jakubowicz's team put 193 obese adults into two groups that ate the same number of calories each day: the men took in 1,600 calories a day, and the women took in 1,400.
One group ate a low carbohydrate diet with a 300-calorie breakfast while the other ate a 600-calorie daily breakfast that was rich with protein and carbs, plus a dessert item.
After four months, all participants had lost an average of 33 pounds. But in the second half of the 32-week study, the low-carb group regained an average of 22 pounds per person while the big-breakfast group kept losing, ending up another 15 pounds lighter.
After eight months, the big-breakfast eaters had lost and kept off an average of 40 pounds more than those who ate the low-carb diet and small breakfasts - but likely cheated because of their cravings, said the authors.
Even though both groups' caloric intake remained the same on the diet plans, the experience felt different for the groups.
"The participants in the low carbohydrate diet group had less satisfaction and felt that they were not full," Jakubowicz said, and she added this led to cheating.
"But the group that consumed a bigger breakfast, including dessert, experienced few if any cravings for these foods later in the day," she said.
The study appeared online in the journal Steroids in December and will appear in an upcoming issue. Information regarding funding and author disclosures was not available.