Forget deprivation dieting when it comes to weight loss — recent research shows having a sweet treat with breakfast can help you lose more weight and keep it off.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel put 193 non-diabetic obese people on one of two low-kilojoule diets.
Both diets had the same daily kilojoule count — about 6700 kilojoules for men and 5900 kilojoules for women. One diet included a low-carbohydrate, 1200-kilojoule breakfast. The other prescribed a 2500-kilojoule breakfast that was high in carbohydrates and protein, and included a sweet food, such as chocolate.
After 16 weeks, both groups had lost an average of 15kg. But by 32 weeks, the results were drastically different. The participants who ate the smaller breakfast had regained an average of 10kg per person, while the ones who enjoyed dessert with breakfast had lost another 7kg.
By the end of the seven-month study, those who ate a larger breakfast and a sweet had lost 18kg more than those on the other kilojoule-controlled diet.
Those who ate the bigger breakfast reported less hunger and cravings than the other group, and found the diet easier to stick to.
Lead author Dr Daniel Jakubowicz said the protein and carbohydrates in the breakfast kept the participants full, while the dessert helped them control sweet and fat cravings.
"The goal of a weight loss diet should be not only weight reduction but also reduction of hunger and cravings, thus helping prevent weight regain," he said.
Melanie McGrice, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, told ninemsn that we need to focus more on eating a high-protein, high-carbohydrate breakfast than on the addition of dessert.
"Having a substantial breakfast does help with weight loss — it's not the fact it included treats, it's that it is a substantial breakfast," she said.
However she said it's important to have some treats in your diet.
"When people try to completely deprive themselves of treats, they are more likely to binge on them later and that leads to weight gain," she said.
The benefit of eating a big breakfast is that your body can burn off the kilojoules throughout the day.
"There's that old saying, 'Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper' — this research is a supporter of that," McGrice said.
The Tel Aviv University study was published in the March issue of the journal Steroids.