Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me. —Audrey Hepburn
Whey my boys were small, we had a tradition of saving some of their birthday cake and having it for breakfast the next morning. The same rule applied to their mom and I, so five times a year we were having cake for breakfast and, yes, most of the time it was chocolate. Our reasoning was that the ingredients in chocolate cake (especially if it was homemade) wasn’t all that different from a bowl of cereal. Plenty of protein, grains, dairy, and actually less sugar than is in many kids’ cereals made having chocolate cake for breakfast a lot of fun.
What I never expected back then was for there to be any science supporting what we were doing. Now, there is. Multiple studies, in fact, having been looking at the effectiveness not only of what we eat but when we eat it. As it turns out, much of our weight issues have to do not merely with the content and quantity of our food, but when we are consuming it. If we alter when we eat certain foods, such as chocolate, they can actually help us to lose weight rather than contribute to gaining.
Wait, are we saying that eating chocolate cake for breakfast might help someone lose weight? Well, that could be stretching things just a tiny bit, but ultimately, yes, one piece of chocolate cake in the morning could help curb one’s appetite for sweets the rest of the day, leading to possible weight loss.
The Science Behind It All
Chocolate cake for breakfast. This is one of those pseudo-science things that is easily debunked by real science, right? Next thing I know they’ll be telling us that staring at the sun cures cancer. We can’t really believe this, can we?
Yes, you can believe. The 32-week study was done at Tel Aviv University. They took 193 non-diabetic clinically obese people and divided them into two groups. The first group was given a 300 calorie breakfast and that was it. Good luck, folks. The second group, however, was given a 600-calorie breakfast that included chocolate pudding. Okay, not quite the same as chocolate cake, but damn close. I’m guessing the pudding was a little easier to prepare.
The results? The group that had pudding for breakfast lost, on average, thirty-seven pounds more than those in the group that only had 300 calories. Amazing, isn’t it? Now, why do you suppose that happened?
Basic biology here, boys and girls. Our metabolism runs higher earlier in the day, when we first get up. Therefore, our bodies are better able to process all those complex proteins and carbohydrates. Bonus points: by getting our sugar fix in earlier, we’re less likely to crave additional snacks and sweets during the day. This means going ahead and having a couple of donuts with that cup of coffee in the morning isn’t doing you as much damage as you might have thought.
All Things In Moderation
This is not giving you permission to eat an entire chocolate cake in one setting. The type of chocolate being used makes a difference as well. Dark chocolate, with more than 80% cacao, not only helps squelch the cravings, but is shown to improve cognitive function and enhance reasoning, memory, and focus. Milk chocolate? Not so much. A lot more fat and sugars there. One has to be careful and apply a bit of those smarts that you picked up at school between naps.
Still, what these studies demonstrate is that we don’t necessarily have to starve ourselves in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. We don’t need to do all those crazy diets, take a bunch of questionable pills, or any of the other nonsense we submit ourselves to in the name of dieting. This goes right back to exactly the same thing you learned in second-grade health class: balance. What we’re learning now, though, is that in addition to that food pyramid, there’s also a time scale. Chocolate is best in the morning. Bananas, it turns out, are perfect for lunch, when they can really help you get through the rest of your day. Eat one after dinner, though, and it’s more likely to upset your stomach and cause digestive problems.
This whole time-of-day science is really just getting started. I’ve searched for similar studies and, so far, have only found the small-sample early studies used to justify larger studies. Eventually, though, we could end up with a much clearer picture of when we should be eating different foods.
For now, we’re very happy that we have scientific evidence that chocolate cake for breakfast is a good thing. With this news, and the fact that it’s really, really cold here in Indiana this morning, I might just have to bake a fresh cake tonight for breakfast tomorrow. Something tells me the family won’t object.