Dieters have long been told to steer clear of sugary treats.
But the key to losing weight could be to eat dessert first, scientists have claimed.
Researchers from Imperial College London believe that feasting on sugar-rich foods at the start of a meal could help keep people’s appetites in check.
The study focused on appetite for glucose, a sugar found in cakes, chocolate and desserts, and the brain’s main source of energy.
The researchers showed that a brain protein called glucokinase keeps track of how much glucose is eaten.
If intake is too low, the brain tells the body to find more starchy and sugary food.
In one experiment, rats were given the choice of eating their normal food or sugary water.
Normally, the animals would have a little of the sweet treat but eat much more of their usual food pellets.
But when the scientists increased the amount of glucokinase in the animals’ brains, their preference switched and they feasted on the sweet solution instead.
A second experiment showed that when rats are starved for 24 hours, the glucokinase in their brains becomes much more active.
It is thought that those with a sweet tooth naturally make more glucokinase than others – helping explain why some of us can’t resist a bar of chocolate or are always tempted by dessert.
The discovery could lead to new diet drugs – and simple tips for losing weight naturally.
Researcher Dr James Gardiner suggests that would-be slimmers tuck into glucose-rich foods at the start of their meal.
The brain will then quickly determine that enough glucose has been eaten, allowing other inbuilt systems that count calories to kick in.
This should stop us from overeating.
In contrast, if we pick at sugary foods throughout our meal, it will take much longer for the brain to register that we have got our fill of glucose.
This activation of the calorie counting system will also be delayed – and we are in danger of over-eating.
One rather appetising way of doing this would be to have dessert first.
However, starchy foods such as chips, bread, pasta, rice and pasta are even richer in glucose – and should also be healthier for us.
In other words, the secret to losing weight could be to eat like an Italian.
Meals in Italy traditionally begin with a small plate or risotto or pasta.
A basket of bread, again common on the continent, will likely also help stop us from eating more than is good for us.
(Source: Daily mail newspaper)