A slice of cake or piece of pie might be tempting, but the dessert you eat can directly affect your weight loss efforts. In fact, a 2007 report in the journal WMJ found that communities with higher-calorie dessert recipes in their local newspaper had higher obesity rates. However, this doesn't mean that you need to give up dessert entirely. You can still include dessert in your weight loss diet plan, as long as you make wise dessert choices that provide extra nutrition with a minimal amount of calories.
Effective Weight Loss
Effective weight loss can only occur when you take in fewer calories than you use on a daily basis. One pound of fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories, so you need to have a deficit of at least this much to lose one pound a week. Losing more than one to two pounds per week could be dangerous, and is unlikely to be effective over the long term. Some commercial diets promote the idea that their plan allows you to eat dessert regularly, but this doesn't mean that you can eat any dessert you want and still lose weight. A weight loss diet that includes dessert only works when the calories in that dessert are considered along with the calories consumed during the other meals and snacks in the diet.
Desserts and Weight
The bad reputation many desserts have regarding weight loss is due to their high fat, sugar and calorie content. Any food that is high in calories can contribute to weight gain, and traditional desserts such as cakes, cookies and ice cream could add 500 or more calories a day to your diet. If you tend to eat dessert every day, reducing the frequency or size of your dessert is a quick way to shave off a big chunk of your daily calories and help fast-track your weight loss. Another problem with most desserts is that they are low in nutrition, so you need to eat more of other, healthier foods to get enough vitamins and minerals in your daily diet.
You can still have dessert every day, even when on a diet, as long as you choose nutritious dessert options instead of desserts high in fat, sugar and calories. Eating a serving of fruit every evening after dinner is a good way to satisfy your sweet tooth while still keeping your calorie count low. Fruit can also be prepared in interesting ways to keep desserts from becoming boring. Try poaching pears in wine or making crepes with sliced peaches, blueberries and cottage cheese inside for desserts that are low in calories and high in nutrients and antioxidants.
While low-fat or sugar-free packaged foods might seem like a possible dessert option for someone on a diet, they aren't always the best choice. Some of these products are high in calories, even though they are low in fat. Others may include multiple servings in a single package, so the calorie count listed on the package might only include half or a quarter of the total calories. These products might also include unhealthy levels of trans fats. Choosing whole foods for dessert is typically a better option for both weight loss and overall health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Improving Your Eating Habits
- Family Doctor: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Weight Control Information Network: Weight Loss for Life
- Kids Health; Figuring Out Fat and Calories; Mary Gavin; May 2009
- WMJ: Calories from Newspaper Dessert Recipes Are Associated with Community Obesity Rates