It may be the most widely reported diet story of the year. Researchers in Tel Aviv put hundreds of overweight people on one of two diets. One was low carb and low calorie. The other was similar, but with a twist: people could have a small dessert after breakfast. Choices included a cookie, chocolate, a piece of cake or a doughnut.
After 16 weeks, both groups had lost 33 lbs — seemingly a great success. But after that, the two groups split. The group that got to have an after-breakfast dessert lost another 15 lbs. The group that didn’t get dessert gained 22 lbs back — largely, it seems, because they started cheating. They couldn’t stick with the low calorie diet long term.
There are many things to take from this study (though we shall see if anyone replicates it). One is that humans don’t do well, long-term, with deprivation. Instead of trying to engineer all treats out of your life, you may be better off introducing them in a controlled fashion.
What does that controlled fashion look like? This brings us back to the idea of mornings as a special time. Perhaps not all hours are created equally. Maybe there is something different about the way our bodies use food in the mornings. Or perhaps it’s that mornings are when our willpower levels are at their highest. A slice of cake at night turns into two or three slices. A slice of cake in the morning is just that: a piece of cake, enjoyed, savored, with the feeling of satisfaction lasting through the day.
Do you eat dessert after breakfast? Have you thought about it?
In other news: I’ll have more info on this in an official round-up tomorrow, but What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast is now officially available as an audio book! You can order it from Amazon, or from iTunes. It’s also around $3, and features me narrating it.
Photo courtesy flickr user Better than Bacon