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Dieters, Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

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Great news for dieters with a sweet tooth! A new study finds that a low-calorie meal plan that leaves room for dessert with breakfast may actually help dieters lose weight.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University studied 144 obese participants, ages 20 to 65, who were instructed to consume one of two low-carbohydrate diets that provided 1,400 calories for women and 1,600 calories for men. Both diets were exactly the same except that one included a high-carbohydrate, protein-rich breakfast with a choice of chocolate, cookies, cake or ice cream for dessert.

The study, which is set to appear in the March 10 issue of the journal Steroids, found that participants underwent occasional tests for blood levels of insulin, glucose, lipid and ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.

Within the first 16-weeks of the study the subjects all lost the same amount of weight — about 32 pounds. During a 16-week follow-up, however, the individuals that included dessert with breakfast lost an average of 13 additional pounds, while the other group gained all of the weight they lost back less 3.5 pounds.

Dieters that ate dessert also indicated lower levels of ghrelin and reported feeling more satiated. Scientist attribute this difference to the fact that the dieters that didn’t deprive themselves of dessert were more successful at maintaining weight loss because they decreased cravings by allowing themselves small portions of the snacks they loved.

Scientists revealed that indulging cravings during the morning hours, when the body’s metabolism tends to be at its most active, is ideal because one is more likely to work off the extra calories throughout the day.

Researchers hope to prove that, in addition to the amount of calories you consume while dieting, the time of day you eat particular foods is equally important when it comes to keeping the weight off for good.

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