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The latest weight loss tip: cake for breakfast

If you really want to lose weight, what you need to eat for breakfast is … a piece of chocolate cake?

That's right, according to researchers at Tel Aviv University. And if you're not a cake person, feel free to substitute cookies or cupcakes.

In a new study published in the journal Steroids, people who ate dessert along with breakfast lost an average of 40 pounds more than those who did not.

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Researchers set out to discover whether the time of a meal and what was in it affected weight loss, or if dropping pounds is simply a matter of counting calories.

To do so, they recruited 193 clinically obese, non-diabetic adults who were randomly assigned to two groups, both of which ate the same number of calories each day. The first group ate a low-carb diet, including a 300-calorie breakfast. The other group ate a 600-calorie breakfast high in carbs and protein, and always finished breakfast with a dessert item.

After 16 weeks, both groups had lost an average of 33 pounds. But in the second half of the study, people in the first group had regained an average of 22 pounds. Meanwhile, people in the second group lost an additional 15 pounds. When the study ended after 32 weeks, people who had been chowing down on chocolate cake after the most important meal of the day had lost an average of 40 pounds more than people in the first group.

Eating a large breakfast packed with carbohydrates makes sense because the body's metabolism is at its most active in the morning, allowing a person to burn off extra calories throughout the day, according to Daniela Jakubowicz, who led the study. And having dessert at breakfast may mean that people don't have cravings later on. As Dr. Jakubowicz noted in a release, people in the first group "had less satisfaction, and felt that they were not full," while "the group that consumed a bigger breakfast, including dessert, experienced few if any cravings for these foods later in the day."

Not giving in to cravings is surely an important part of losing weight, and not having any is best of all. But you might want to eat your breakfast cupcakes with a grain of salt.

What do you find helps you lose weight or stay trim?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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