Monday, November 20, 2017
Health

The chocolate cake diet: Can dessert with breakfast really help you lose weight?

RECOMMENDED READING


If you're reading this at breakfast, it's our pleasure to bring you good tidings of great joy: You may eat cake.

Dig in. Have a cookie. Have some chocolate mousse or ice cream.

If that sounds insane, let us turn your attention to a counter-intuitive new study from a team of researchers at Tel Aviv University. They've stumbled onto some earthshaking evidence that suggests adding dessert to a balanced 600-calorie breakfast that includes proteins and carbohydrates can help dieters shed weight and keep it off in the long run.

Here's the skinny.

Researchers split 193 clinically obese, nondiabetic adults into two groups. The groups were assigned nearly identical low-carb diets of 1,400 calories a day for women and 1,600 calories a day for men, similar to the popular Atkins diet. But one group was given a low-carb 300-calorie breakfast and the other was given a 600-calorie breakfast that was high in protein and carbohydrates, and always included a dessert.

Weight loss was about equal for the two groups at 16 weeks. But after 32 weeks, those who added a cookie or cake or ice cream to breakfast had lost an average of 40 pounds more than those who ate the lighter, low-carb breakfast, according to the findings published in the journal Steroids.

Shocking, right? How on earth does that work?

We reached the lead researcher in Tel Aviv.

"What you eat for breakfast does not make you fat," said professor Daniela Jakubowicz, part of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Diabetes Unit at Wolfson Medical Center. She explained that breakfast provides energy for the day, revs the body's metabolism and aids brain function. What you consume early is fuel. If a low-calorie diet restricts carbohydrates at breakfast, metabolism goes down and the body makes compensatory changes that encourage weight gain if you eat carbohydrates later. And you will, because by lunchtime you'll be super hungry.

"Breakfast increases metabolism and decreases hunger," she said.

And adding the sweet to breakfast reduces the desire to eat the sweet later in the day.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of happiness, is high in the morning but falls in the afternoon, she said. When you eat chocolate in the afternoon, serotonin increases and has an antidepressive effect; it makes you happier. That ups the likelihood that you'll reach for it the next afternoon when your serotonin levels drop.

That's what happened to the group eating the lower-carb breakfast, those who didn't eat a balanced breakfast with dessert. They craved sweets later in the day, when indulging is worse, and cheated on their diet.

"When serotonin goes down, you become sad and the chocolate makes you happy," she said. "It's like a vicious cycle."

So we should eat sweets in the morning?

"Chocolate in the morning maintains the serotonin levels during the day, so you don't feel depressed," Jakubowicz said. "When you think of the chocolate you ate in the morning, you don't remember that it made you happy because when you ate it your serotonin level was up. The dependence on the chocolate begins to decrease."

The study shows that the group that ate dessert at breakfast was far more successful at maintaining the diet in the long run.

We ran this by Dr. Denise Edwards, director of the Healthy Weight Clinic at the University of South Florida. She said the study made sense because people often fail at very restrictive diets and engage in "emotional eating," indulging in foods that give you pleasure. The best plan is one that strikes a balance, she said, so don't think you can just eat sweets and lose weight.

Word of the study has yet to spread throughout Tampa Bay, it seems.

Jeff Mount, president of Wright's Gourmet House in Tampa, said he sold 23,000 cakes last year, but it was rare to see anyone chowing down on his chocolate cake or Alpine cake in the dining room at breakfast.

"That behavior pattern of having dessert later in the day is so ingrained in us," he said. "I kind of subscribe to the belief that at the end of the day it's all about calories and managing them. I've grown to believe that what you eat and when you eat it plays a large role."

He says he's open to the idea.

"Maybe I'll try to eat a slice of chocolate cake in the morning for a week," he said. "I'll have my staff check in with you."

Ben Montgomery can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8650.

Comments

Owning dogs may be great for your heart and lower risk of death, study finds

Dog ownership correlates with lower rates of mortality and some fatal diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, a study published this past week concluded.The study in the journal Scientific Reports found that canine ownership was associated wit...
Published: 11/19/17
New shingles vaccine touted as a breakthrough for older adults

New shingles vaccine touted as a breakthrough for older adults

Medical researchers and government health policymakers, a cautious lot, normally take pains to keep expectations modest when they’re discussing some new finding or treatment.They warn about studies’ limitations. They point out what isn’t known. They ...
Published: 11/17/17
BayCare’s HealthHub breaks ground behind Valrico shopping center

BayCare’s HealthHub breaks ground behind Valrico shopping center

VALRICO — Health care officials broke ground Thursday on the long anticipated HealthHub at Bloomingdale, which will bring about 150 jobs to an area that’s experiencing tremendous growth and provide patients with the latest in technological care.A pro...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/19/17
In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

Despite the budget cuts, the attempts to repeal and replace, and reports of sharp rises in premiums, Floridians and other Americans are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at record rates this year.Enrollment has surged 47 p...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Study: Mental quickness exercises can lower risk of dementia

Study: Mental quickness exercises can lower risk of dementia

Where did I leave my keys?As we age, it can take longer to answer a question like that.Humans begin to lose cognitive ability at age 25. Dementia, or the decline of memory most commonly seen in aging adults, takes hold early on and is gradual, but ac...
Published: 11/16/17
Blood pressure of 130 is the new ‘high,’ according to update of guidelines

Blood pressure of 130 is the new ‘high,’ according to update of guidelines

The nation’s heart experts tightened the guidelines for high blood pressure Monday, a change that will sharply increase the number of U.S. adults considered hypertensive in the hope that they, and their doctors, will address the deadly condition earl...
Published: 11/13/17
Are Honey Nut Cheerios healthy? A look inside the box

Are Honey Nut Cheerios healthy? A look inside the box

I had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios recently. It had been awhile. Regular Cheerios are more my thing. But sometimes I finish my box faster than my kids do and find myself straying to their side of the cupboard.Honey Nut is America’s best-selling break...
Published: 11/11/17
Owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg faces federal inquiry over funds for low-income patients

Owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg faces federal inquiry over funds for low-income patients

The corporate owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg could be facing a serious federal investigation related to its commitment to take care of St. Petersburg’s poorest residents.In its most recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commiss...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/14/17
Father in New Tampa uses monkey Kookabuk to help young autism patients

Father in New Tampa uses monkey Kookabuk to help young autism patients

As a 7-year-old boy, Kevin Howard spent months in the hospital with a bone infection in his leg.A stuffed monkey named Kookabuk helped him make it through the scary experience."I was told he had magical powers," Howard said of the monkey, a gift from...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/19/17
Learn to practice gratitude year-round, not just on Thanksgiving

Learn to practice gratitude year-round, not just on Thanksgiving

Is it part of your Thanksgiving tradition to go around the dinner table and have everyone share one thing they are thankful for? The exercise reminds us that the day is about more than just turkey and pie. And, for those who take it seriously, it for...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/10/17