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How to Include Desserts in a Weight Loss Diet

If you want to shed pounds but can't give up sweets, you're in luck — you don't have to.

While eliminating sweets is usually beneficial for weight loss, giving up desserts is no easy task. But adding treats back into your meal plan after weight loss can lead to weight regain. Fortunately, you don’t have to eliminate desserts entirely to successfully shed pounds and keep the weight off — when you follow a few simple tips.

1. Pick Lower Calorie Treats

If you’re unable to give up desserts entirely, curb your sweet tooth with lower calorie treats during your weight loss journey. Examples include fudgesicles, popsicles, frozen yogurt, sugar-free pudding, Jell-O, and oatmeal cookies. Each contains about 100 calories or less per serving, which is much lower than traditional desserts like regular ice cream, pies, cakes, and candy bars.

2. Use Ingredient Substitutions

When making desserts yourself, there are several ingredient substitutions that can help cut calories. These include:




Applesauce, pureed fruit, or sugar-free syrup


Use half the sugar called for — and add cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla

Sour cream

Fat-free sour cream or fat-free plain yogurt

Whole milk

Fat-free milk

Evaporated milk

Fat-free evaporated milk

Fruit canned in syrup

Fruit canned in water or fresh fruit

1 egg

Two egg whites

Cream cheese

Fat-free cream cheese or pureed fat-free cottage cheese

Margarine, butter, shortening, or oil

Prune puree or applesauce for half the butter, margarine, shortening, or oil

3. Count Calories

When you’re counting calories to shed pounds it’s best to pick healthy foods, but as long as you’re abiding by your reduced calorie allotment you can technically include a few sweets. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests most women should limit calories to 1,200 to 1,500 daily to lose weight, and men need 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day to shed pounds. The American Heart Association recommends women eat no more than 100 calories from sweets, and men consume no more than 150 calories from added sugar daily. If you’re looking for a free calorie calculator, try the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Tracker.

4. Add Protein to Sweets

Adding protein to your meal plan (even adding it to sweet treats) will help you feel full from fewer calories. This is because protein increases satiety more than any other nutrient, according to one 2008 review. For example, try adding nuts or seeds to frozen yogurt, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, or whey protein powder to oatmeal cookies, or black beans to brownies.

While sweets aren’t typically encouraged during weight loss, you can still shed pounds by including desserts (especially healthier varieties) in moderation in your meal plan.

[Image via Getty]

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