A new diet book, The Marie Antoinette Diet, claims that you can have your cake…and lose weight, too. Basically, the premise of this diet is that you can (and should) eat like Marie Antoinette, who treated herself to cake and hot chocolate for breakfast. The logic is that if you have a normal amount of what you really want, you’ll keep your cravings in check and won’t end up overindulging later.
But seriously: cake for breakfast? We’re all for Malcolm Gladwell-esque revelations, but that sounds a little too good to be true. So we checked in with Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet, to see if the plan adds up. And it turns out, parts of it do—but not all parts of it.
The portion control aspect definitely makes sense, says Gans. “It’s totally fine to incorporate sweets like cake into your diet as long as you don’t have too much of them. Deprivation does not work. It’s much better to have a little and be satisfied than to cut yourself off entirely because you’ll end up bingeing later.”
Having them in the morning, though, a la Marie Antoinette? Not so much. “A calorie is a calorie no matter when you eat it,” says Gans. “But the bigger issue is that what you eat during one meal can impact what you eat at the next meal.”
See, cake has tons of sugar—so even if it’s the same number of calories as, say, a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit, it doesn’t keep you full for as long. “Cake spikes your blood sugar so that you quickly crash and are hungry again sooner,” says Gans. “The result is that you could end up taking in more calories throughout the day than if you’d started with a healthier breakfast packed with fiber and protein, which keeps you fuller for longer.”
Point is, it’s fine to channel your inner Antoinette and enjoy a reasonably-sized piece of cake when you want to, as long as you fit it into your daily calorie budget. But you probably don’t want to have it instead of breakfast; it’s smarter to start your day with fiber and protein.
*This story was originally published on WomensHealth.com.