Many diet regimes recommend that you cut out sweets and other treats entirely. According to scientific evidence, this is the main reason many diets fail.
When I was the fitness editor at Men’s Health, I was tasked with losing weight. For reasons you would not expect, it turned out to be one of the most enlightening events of my life.
Initially, the narrative was supposed to be a detailed tutorial on “How to lose the last 10 pounds.”
Although this was Men’s Health, the emphasis moved to abdominal development. (On a side note, taking the images for the article was one of the stranger things I’ve ever done. That I am not the next Zoolander was brought home to me.
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It was my mission in life to make others appreciate their six-packs. But I was adamant about breaking with tradition. The world didn’t need another extreme workout demanding so many participants.
I aimed for practicality with my “get abs” strategy. I was indicating my want for sweets. Even more frequently than once a week, I yearned for it.
The Evidence-Based Approach to Weight Loss and Maintenance
Like the rest of the population, I am fascinated by celebrity news, and I have discussed the diets and exercise routines of dozens of famous people I have interviewed.
But here’s the point: dissecting the schedule of an actor, actress, or athlete whose whole day revolves around food and exercise is one thing. It’s interesting to think about but not something most people would use.
Plans made for actual people can be reasonable and achievable for others to follow. That meant no personal chefs or two-a-day exercises for me. Also, I was keen on finishing every week with a sweet treat.
It’s crucial to eat well. I also have a soft spot for ice cream, brownies, cookies, and cheesecake. Many others share this view.
My internal struggle between what I know to be accurate and what I have always believed needed to be resolved.
The scientific method is fascinating to me. I’ve established my professional reputation on a commitment to evidence. Having dessert while losing weight is feasible, and calories count.
After all, this is how a professor may follow the “Twinkie Diet” for 10 weeks and drop 27 pounds.
Or how studies show that persons who indulged in sweets before breakfast lost more weight than those who didn’t. The study’s results revealed that those who eat dessert regularly continue to lose weight (by an additional 15 pounds), but those who avoided dessert regained nearly all of their weight (by 22 pounds).
I don’t think my parents gave me the best possible genes. I was overweight throughout my formative years.
If I’m being sincere, I was dubious that I’d see significant improvements from indulging in sweets. That may work for some people, but I couldn’t see it happening in my case.
The task at hand was, without a doubt, the last test. The narrative would be published, the stakes were high, and I made the rules.
Where did that go, then?
After 12 weeks, I finished with 8% body fat despite regularly eating sweets.
The Case for Dessert (Again, Despite Your Diet)
First, if you completely cut out your favorite foods, you will only stick to your diet briefly. [Note: I’m not saying you shouldn’t periodically attempt eliminating potentially problematic items from your diet. That’s a whole other tale. What I mean is to make a strategy out of stringent limitations.
The daily struggle is one of the main obstacles to losing weight. Diets are notoriously tricky and draining on the mind. And being frustrated and worn out causes stress, which in turn causes cravings. It’s a vicious cycle that ends with you shouting “F it!” and giving up on your diet since you “cheated” and binged on the things you were missing.
Everyone experiences something close to this at some point. It’s not all in one’s head, either. Reducing caloric intake and losing weight causes hormonal changes and increased appetite.
So, how do you proceed? You should consume meals that provide sustained energy (such as proteins, fiber, and vegetables), but sweets can also help.
Sweet, starchy, and fatty food cravings can be alleviated with the help of desserts and snacks. Diets fall apart because of these “hyper-palatable” foods. When you cut them out of your diet entirely, you may crave them more than usual. But even a tiny amount can prevent you from amassing too much.
That’s why eating dessert after working out opened my eyes. I indulged in tasty, authentic fare. Neither was I famished for sugar, fat, or salt, but neither was I gobbling down three vast pieces of cheesecake every day.
It was, in many respects, the polar opposite of a diet. I didn’t just give in to my urges and give up when I wanted to; I took preventative measures.
That’s why selecting the perfect sweets for you is crucial. After all, when you look at the big picture, you’ll see that many diets are effective. Why pick one that makes you unpleasant or causes you to give up before giving it enough time to show its accurate results?
Vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats should still be the foundation of your diet. However, that’s a message everyone is familiar with. The news that what you consume need not bring you misery has not yet made it across.
Consistency and patience are critical components of a healthy lifestyle. It’s effective as a diet and workout plan. There is no enchantment. No fancy stuff, just reliability, and longevity.
The “Rules” of Desserts (Sugar Is Not Sold Individually)
The worst thing you can do while attempting to lose weight is to limit all treats since this will lead to withdrawal and bingeing.
A more efficient method satisfies cravings in manageable doses.
According to a study conducted in Alabama, overweight women who indulged in tiny sweets four times a week shed 9 more pounds than their counterparts who submitted in larger splurges whenever they pleased.
The tiny treats provide a mental boost without derailing your diet to keep you going strong.
Ten to twenty percent of your daily calorie intake can be allocated as a reward within any diet. So that a cup of ice cream doesn’t develop into an all-night feast at the 24-hour buffet, the challenge is to monitor the portion size (yeah, always challenging). Or, in many cases, setting yourself up with the necessary resources to make it more difficult to engage in such binges.
What’s the deal, though? It’s much less probable that you’ll go from eating one scoop of ice cream to the whole pint if you don’t view the ice cream as forbidden.
Master your confines. Know what sets you off. And set up a mechanism that ensures your success.
However, to maximize your chances of losing weight without feeling deprived, don’t cut out everything you enjoy eating. It’s a significant factor in why so many diets ultimately fail.