According to Twitter, it’s Chocolate Day, so what better way to celebrate than with the sweet news that eating chocolate – with a full fry-up – for your breakfast could help you stay slim?
It may sound too good to be true but according to a study published in the journal, Steroids, eating a dessert as part of a balanced 600-calorie breakfast, that also contains protein and carbs, can help dieters to lose weight with less chance of piling the pounds back on in the long-term.
The researchers at Tel Aviv University found that we’re more likely to resist our cravings later in the day if we eat a higher proportion of our day’s calorie intake in the morning when the body’s metabolism is at its most active and we have the rest of the day to burn off the energy.
It was also found that breakfast helps suppress ghrelin, the hormone that increases hunger.
The results also suggested that ‘deprivation diets’ can create a psychological addiction to the foods we deprive ourselves of, leading to withdrawal-like symptoms.
As a result, we are more likely to crumble and fall off the diet wagon, thus regaining the weight further down the line.
The researchers studied 193 clinically obese, non-diabetic adults for 32 weeks. The participants were divided into two groups. The first ate a 300-calorie breakfast while the other group ate a balanced 600-calorie breakfast that included a dessert.
Halfway through the study, the subjects in both groups had lost an average of 33lbs per person. But during the second half of the study, the low-carbohydrate group went on to regain an average of 22lbs per person, while those who ate the dessert lost a further 15lbs each.
By the end of the study those who had eaten the chocolate cake had lost an average of 40lbs more than those in the control group, it was reported in ScienceDaily.
Researcher Professor Daniela Jakubowicz reported that the low-carbohydrate group experienced more intense cravings causing them to cheat on their diet plan, leading to consequent weight gain.
"The participants in the low-carbohydrate diet group had less satisfaction and felt that they were not full," she said, as reported in ScienceDaily.
She added: "But the group that consumed a bigger breakfast, including dessert, experienced few if any cravings for these foods later in the day."
The study concluded that highly restrictive diets may be effective to begin with but can lead to withdrawal-like symptoms that drive dieters to crumble and they end up piling the pounds back on.
So is a full English and a slice of chocolate cake each morning the key to losing weight?
Cath Collins, dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said that although there was scientific evidence to back up the study findings, the research, conducted in Tel Aviv, did not tackle the British issue of night-time snacking.
She told the Huffington Post: “By having a generous breakfast which incorporates a treat, you will be less likely to be tempted to binge later in the day.
“But if you have already used up 600 calories on breakfast you need to be aware of your calorie intake for the rest of the day.
British diets are scuppered by late-night snacking in front of the TV.”
For those who wish to try feasting on a big breakfast with a dessert, Collins warns that it’s important to remember portion control. She suggests a balanced 600-calorie breakfast of “two scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast and four squares of chocolate, which contains a balance of carbohydrate, protein as well as a sugary fix.”
In case you needed any reasons to celebrate Chocolate Day...
Eating dark chocolate could help control diabetes and blood pressure, according to an Italian study. Researchers found that eating 100g of dark chocolate each day for 15 days lowered blood pressure. The same study found that chocolate improved the body's ability to metabolise sugar.
Chocolate is packed with antioxidants, which protect the body from environmental stress. In fact, ounce for ounce, the sweet stuff contains more antioxidants, than blueberries and green tea.
Chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, which may help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It also contains iron and potassium, linked to a reduced risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Although it is frequently lumped in the same category as cakes and pastries, when it comes to sugar content, dark chocolate surprisingly has a low glycemic index which means it won't send your blood sugar levels soaring then crashing.
Chocolate contains a compound, Phenylethylamine (PEA) that releases feelgood chemicals called endorphins in the brain. The same chemicals are released when you fall in love. Another benefit: man replacement?