Can You Eat Dessert & Still Lose Weight? 10 Desserts for Weight Loss

Yogurt with granola

Weight loss plans may bring to mind words like rigidity, restrictions, and rabbit food, but you can successfully lose weight while eating many diverse and delicious foods, including desserts. Can you eat dessert and still lose weight? The sweet answer is yes! Learn more about how desserts can fit into your weight loss journey, what dessert eating mistakes to avoid, and ten healthy desserts for weight loss.

Should You Eat Desserts While Trying to Lose Weight?

Many people trying to lose weight cut carbohydrates by skipping bread, pasta, and sweets. But carbohydrates are found in many foods that offer energy and essential nutrients. Carbs can help your weight loss journey in multiple ways, even dessert carbs! While it’s common to feel sweets may sabotage your weight loss plans, avoiding sweets could make matters worse. According to Mayo Clinic, banishing sweets may cause your cravings to intensify, and this can make it tough to stay on track with your weight loss goals. The lesson here? When working to make sustainable, lifelong changes, including all of the food groups and not denying yourself the foods you love will allow you to be successful long term.

In a sixteen-week study, 200 adult men and women with obesity were randomly split into two groups. While both groups ate protein-rich low calorie meals, one group got dessert with breakfast (high-carb), and the other group didn’t (low-carb). At the end of the study, both study groups lost an average of 33 pounds. However, during the four months following the study, the high-carb group continued to lose and lost 15 more pounds while the low-carb group regained 22 pounds. The high-carb group who ate dessert at breakfast reported fewer cravings and feelings of hunger. 

It turns out that there may be some benefits to having your cake and eating it too, even when weight loss is the goal. Enjoying desserts can help you eat more intuitively and be mindful of the flavors and textures you’re experiencing as you savor every spoonful. Intuitive eating is linked to healthy body image, positive self-esteem, and well-being. That said, can you eat dessert every day and still lose weight? The answer depends on the dessert in itself. Weight loss comes from eating fewer calories than you burn, so if the dessert is low in calories, you may be able to eat it every day. 

Common Mistakes When Eating Desserts

Eating desserts while losing weight may come with poor habits that can make losing weight difficult. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid. 

Eating Too Many Desserts

The unfortunate eat-binge cycle stems from diet restrictions, including shunning sweets. You’ve avoided sweets for so long that you snap, and suddenly the entire sleeve of cookies is gone, and so is that slice of cake and pint of ice cream. If sweets are something you really enjoy, expecting to never eat them again is only a set up for failure. So instead of avoiding sweets completely, define what “moderation” is for you. It may be a special treat once a week, or 2 pieces of dark chocolate after dinner every night. 

Feeling Bad After Eating Dessert

If you feel guilty after eating dessert, it’s essential to think about why you feel that way and work to reframe your mindset. Feeling guilt or shame after eating happens when you feel like you’ve broken some sort of rule that you hold about specific foods. When desserts are off-limits, eating them may bring about these feelings. You can find freedom from guilt by allowing desserts into your life in moderation – you’ll be happier for it. 

Compulsion to Burn Off Calories

Exercising is sometimes viewed as a punishment for eating “bad” food. Try to avoid working out to offset the way you’ve eaten because exercise should always be associated with  positivity. Make a list of positive reasons you work out, such as to boost your mood or for better quality sleep, and try not to use a workout to make amends for eating desserts. 

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10 Healthy Desserts for Weight Loss

Dessert lovers seeking to shed some pounds can rest easy knowing it’s OK to sprinkle sweets into your eating plan. Alongside eating nourishing foods such as whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, you can enjoy sweet treats in moderation. These ten desserts for weight loss offer a mix of low-calorie, homemade, and chocolate-infused delectables. 

  1. Low Calorie Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt

It’s no secret that ice cream can come with an overdose of calories depending on the type and brand. While some popular varieties have a whopping 1200 calories per pint, low cal brands produce ice cream with just 39 calories per scoop. Low-calorie ice creams may be made with a low fat or non-dairy base and sweetened with stevia. and contains thoughtful ingredients without fillers or additives. Brands like Oppo, Artic Zero or Halo Top, Yasso are good choices. 

  1. Double Chocolate Dairy-Free Ice Cream

Stay true to your sweet tooth with homemade double chocolate dairy-free ice cream using this recipe made from coconut milk. This ice cream packs a lot of flavors, and you may be satisfied with just a few spoonfuls. Though the serving size isn’t exactly low in calories, you can certainly enjoy this frozen dessert in moderation. 

  1. Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

You can’t go wrong with homemade energy bites as a healthy dessert for weight loss. Not only is this recipe completely customizable according to your taste preferences, but it’s loaded with heart-healthy whole grains, fiber-rich nuts, magnesium, and filling healthy fats. Lose weight and enjoy this tasty portable treat that your entire family can eat. 

  1. Apple Pie Smoothie

You can have your pie and drink it too! This sweet, creamy, apple-based dessert gives you all the warm apple pie flavors without overdoing the fat and calories. Blend up applesauce, vanilla extract, apple pie spice, and special add-ins like flaxseeds or protein powder using a milk of your choosing. Every serving contains just 136 calories, and boasts 13 grams of protein, which can support your weight loss. 

  1. Greek Yogurt Fruit Tart

This four-ingredient fruit tart would make a winning dessert, snack, or breakfast. Though it’s a homemade recipe, you don’t have to be a master chef to make this in your kitchen. It’s an eye-catching dessert that includes fiber-filling cashews, calcium-rich yogurt, and fruit. Enjoying healthy sweets and losing weight can be simple. 

  1. Vegan Dark Chocolate Hummus

Enjoy this rich, decadent dip in just five minutes by blending chickpeas, maple syrup, nut butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a blender or food processor. The silky smooth vegan hummus makes for a shareable dessert or snack rich in potassium, with just 44 calories per serving. Dip strawberries or apple slices into this chocolatey treat and stay on track with your weight loss plan. 

  1. Dark Chocolate

Yes, losing weight and eating chocolate is possible. Dark chocolate is good for dessert because it’s low in sugar, provides fiber and healthy fats, and contains antioxidants like flavonoids. The higher the cacao content, the better; however, its taste starts to get more bitter the higher you go because there’s less sugar. Choose a kind you can eat on its own or crumble and eat over a yummy yogurt parfait. 

  1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Pie

Sweeten your life with this single serving chocolate peanut butter pie! What’s better than a creamy, tasty treat with a crumbly crust? This protein-packed sweet treat can satisfy your sweet tooth as a great grab-n-go breakfast, dessert or snack.  

  1. Fruit

You knew about this one, didn’t you? It’s safe to say that fruits are one of the best ​​desserts for weight loss thanks to their naturally sweet flavors, satisfying textures, and few calories. They’re jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, not to mention brimming with phytonutrients and antioxidants to boost your overall health and immunity. 

Fruit helps to fill you up because they’re high in fiber and water, both essential for shedding weight. Eat fruit as is, or take things up a notch with fruit-based recipes like peach sorbet or healthy banana splits

10. Low sugar cookies

You don’t need to put away the cookie jar when trying to lose weight! While most cookies are loaded with sugar and saturated fat there are healthier options on the market. Cookies made with ingredients like healthy fats, protein, fiber, and less sugar can be a great option for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, manage their weight, and avoid blood sugar spikes. Brands like Joydays can be a great choice

How Form Health Can Help You Enjoy Desserts and Lose Weight

Strict food rules and banishing desserts isn’t sustainable or good for your long term weight loss goals. Physical activity, mindful eating, and freedom to eat a wide variety of foods in moderation are keys to healthy, sustainable weight loss. At Form, patients work with a Registered Dietitian to learn healthy eating habits including how to enjoy the foods they love in moderation. You don’t have to lose weight all on your own – many people benefit from guidance from weight loss experts and access to tools like weight loss medication.  Schedule a call or send a message to see if Form could be for you. Learn more about how Form works here

About the Author

Julia Axelbaum, RD, Director of Clinical Nutrition, CSOWM, LDN

Julia Axelbaum is a Registered Dietitian board certified in obesity and weight management at Form Health. She studied Nutrition and Public Health at New York University and completed her clinical training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Julia worked as a bariatric dietitian at NewStart Bariatrics in St. Louis, MO and went on to become the Bariatric Program Coordinator where she fully launched the center’s first non-surgical, medical weight loss program. Julia is passionate about helping her patients learn how to take control of emotional eating, develop a more balanced mindset and improve their relationship with food.

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