Good news for the kid in you: Not only can you eat cake for breakfast, doing so may actually help you keep weight off, a new study suggests.
In the study, obese participants who ate a breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates that included a dessert were better able to stick to their diet and keep the pounds off longer than participants who ate a low-carb, low-calorie breakfast that did not include sweets.
The findings suggest that both meal timing and meal composition play a role in weight loss. Carbs and protein eaten at breakfast may keep us full throughout the day, plus allowing ourselves some sweets helps to stem cravings for these foods, said study researcher Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz, of Tel Aviv University in Israel.
Nutritionists said they have mixed feelings about the study. Some say dessert for breakfast is a diet no-no, and could actually increase your cravings for sweets.
"I would never, in a million years, recommend cookies or cake for breakfast," said Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietitian and author of "Diet Simple" (LifeLine Press, 2011), who was not involved in the study.
Others said eating something sweet at breakfast is all right, as long as it's part of a healthy diet.
But the experts agreed, a large, balanced breakfast can help maintain weight loss. A substantial breakfast can suppress your hunger cravings and make you less likely to gorge the rest of the day.
"The last thing you want to do is get to an evening meal, and be starving," said Heather Mangieri, a nutrition consultant and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "That's the time that so many people overeat."
The study involved 193 obese adults, half of whom were randomly assigned to eat a large, 600-calorie breakfast that included a "dessert" item, such as a cookie, cake or donut. The other half ate a small, 300- calorie breakfast. Both groups consumed the same total daily calories -- 1,600 calories for men and 1,400 for women. (The group with a big breakfast ate a smaller dinner, of 300 or 400 calories.)
After 16 weeks of strictly following this diet, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight. However, during a follow-up period in which participants were advised to stick to the diet, but could eat more if they were motivated by hunger cravings, the small breakfast group gained 24 pounds, while the big breakfast group lost 15 pounds, on average.
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