Dieters who allow themselves one full-fat dessert a week as a congratulatory treat could be inadvertently thwarting their weight loss efforts, a new study suggests.
Instead of indulging once a week on a regular dessert, a new Greek study suggests a more effective weight loss strategy is to consume low-fat, sugar-free desserts several times a week. The findings were presented at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston this week.
"Dieters commonly splurge on dessert once a week, usually choosing fattening items," said lead investigator and pediatrician Antonia Dastamani in a statement. "However, we found a positive effect of more frequent consumption of desserts that have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load."
Foods with a low glycemic load and index raise blood sugar levels more slowly than other carbohydrates.
Obesity is a precursor to diabetes, where the body becomes insulin resistant and is unable to properly use the hormone.
In the study out of the University School of Medicine in Athens, Greece, researchers studied the effects of two diets in 29 overweight girls, ages 10 to 14 years.
Both groups followed the same diet that consisted of 45 percent carbohydrates, 35 percent fats and 20 percent proteins.
The group of 15 girls, however, ate low-fat and sugar-free desserts four times a week, while the other group of 14 girls consumed a dessert of their choice once a week.
The first group was fed low-calorie desserts containing sugar substitutes like sucralose, supplied by Athens food company the Giotis Company, which also helped fund the study.
After three months, both groups improved their body mass index; however, the group that consumed low-fat, sugar-free desserts lost significantly more weight and had better average BMI than the other girls, researchers said.
They also had significantly improved levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and systolic blood pressure.
Meanwhile, for those who are weak for sumptuous desserts, another study published last year suggests that the clenching of muscles increases a person's willpower and self-control. The study, published in The Journal of Consumer Research, found that participants were able to shore up more willpower and bypass mouthwatering desserts when they clenched their hand, fingers, or biceps.