Monday, March 26, 2012

Dessert for Breakfast!

Originally posted @

Here’s a headline to celebrate: “Dessert at Breakfast May Help Dieters!” I wanted to toast to it, with cookies instead of toast!

I hungrily continued reading about this extraordinary study. Researchers divided 144 obese subjects, into a low carb breakfast group (LC), and a high carb plus protein-and-dessert breakfast group (D). Dessert eaters could choose from cookies, chocolate, cake or ice cream. Daily calories remained the same for both groups, but the LC breakfast contained 300 calories, while the D group enjoyed 600 calories for breakfast. Everyone ate the same lunch, but dinner consisted of 600 calories for the LC’s and 300 calories for the D’s.

At the end of 16 weeks, both groups lost about 32 pounds. However, after another 16 weeks, the dessert group lost an additional 13 pounds, while the others regained all but 3.5 pounds! Isn’t this the best news ever?

Here’s the science: Those on the dessert regimen maintained lower levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for hunger. As a result, they reported being more satisfied, with significantly reduced hunger and cravings than the LC breakfast group. The LC breakfast group experienced increased cravings for sweets, fats, carbohydrates/starches and fast foods! 

But here’s the piece de resistance...

Both groups had similar insulin and glucose levels before the study, and both groups improved at week 16. However, by the end of follow-up, the dessert group enjoyed even better levels, while levels became much worse for the LC breakfast group!

The same thing happened with cholesterol and triglycerides. Both groups were similar, but by the end, total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol) were significantly lower for the dessert-eaters, than the low carb breakfast group! In fact, the good cholesterol (HDL) was significantly higher! Yahooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

It looks like dessert-eaters were so satisfied at breakfast that they were able to continue their diet into the end zone. The joy of eating dessert at breakfast, combined with reduced ghrelin, is a winning combination that can probably be sustained forever. Would you complain if I prescribed that for you? The low carbers could not continue adhering to their regimen, and regained most of their weight.

I have often suggested that my patients eat treats for breakfast, such as a whole grain waffle, with natural ice cream, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Those who comply, never binge on ice cream later. It seems better to have preferred foods when there is more control, such as in the morning, which seems to get it out of their system.

Having treats for breakfast also eliminates the “forbidden food” syndrome, by lowering its reward value. If you know you can have cake for breakfast, there is less desire for it at other times. We call it “prescribing the symptom.”

Bottom Line: Eating a high carbohydrate, high protein breakfast including dessert, can help people to maintain a healthy weight management plan.