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A new Israeli study presents encouraging findings for cake and chocolate lovers: A sweet dish at breakfast time may actually help weight loss diets. In the morning, when the body’s metabolic rate is faster, measured consumption of sweets can reduce appetite for sweets during the rest of the day.

Researchers from the Wolfson Medical Center, the Hebrew University’s school of nutrition in Rehovot and the Ariel University Center reviewed this issue in 193 overweight Israelis. Half were given a breakfast consisting of 600 calories that included sweets − a chocolate bar, chocolate mousse, cake or a donut. The other half were given a low-carbohydrate dietetic breakfast of 300 calories.

At the end of the diet, which lasted four months, the average weight lost by the participants in both groups was similar. But after another four months, those permitted to eat something sweet in the morning lost 20 kilograms on average ‏(dropping from 91.2 kilograms to 70.6 kilograms‏), while those in the group assigned a dietetic breakfast gained weight by the end but still weighed slightly less than they did at the start of the study.

The findings were published in the Steroids journal in December 2011. The researchers, led by Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz of the Wolfson Medical Center, determined that adding carbohydrates to breakfast helps the body to deal with the weight loss and improves the effectiveness of weight loss diets over time.

“In order to achieve long-term weight loss, when determining meal times and their content, one should take into account the compensatory mechanisms that encourage weight gain after a diet,” the researchers concluded.