Have Cake to Lose Weight

Sounds too good to be true, right?

 

Taken as part of a full, nutrient dense meal, though, a small slice of this Mixed Nut Chocolate Cake can aid in weight loss efforts.

Weight reduction is made possible through substituting in alternative sweeteners and key ingredient choices that allowed the use of less flour than a normal cake would. Check out how to make healthy swaps yourself in Is There a Healthy Sugar to Satisfy Sweetness without the Drawbacks?

Substitutions

As for alternative sweeteners, cacao powder and dark chocolate top the list in this cake. Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate because it doesn’t have added milk or sugar. “Any added sugar, milk products, or cocoa butter simply dilute the cocoa solids and their phenolics. The dutching process also reduces the levels of desirable phenolics in cocoa powder, and the milk proteins in milk chocolate appear to bind to the same molecules and prevent us from absorbing them.”1 It is precisely the flavonoids in dark chocolate that can indirectly lead to weight loss, too.

Flavonoids are known in their reduction of most types of nutrition epidemics, and obesity is no exception. “Weight loss through nutritional and pharmacological treatment, in addition to supplementation with antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins E, A, and C, flavonoids, among others, may be the key to reducing the risk of developing other pathologies related with OS and obesity”2  Obesity can also arise from insulin-resistance. Yet again, polyphenols nip this condition in the bud.  “polyphenol-rich dark chocolate but not white chocolate (which contains cocoa butter) decreases blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in healthy persons.”3  Additionally,  “there are plausible mechanisms for the antioxidant effects of cocoa polyphenols to directly influence insulin resistance.”4

Key Choices

Nuts and nut butters were chosen to give healthy fats and heaviness to the cake, so eating just a little would naturally signal fullness. After all, “the few trials contrasting weight loss through regimens that include or exclude nuts indicate improved compliance and greater weight loss when nuts are permitted. This consistent literature suggests nuts may be included in the diet, in moderation, to enhance palatability and nutrient quality without posing a threat for weight gain.”5 Specifically, “peanuts have already been shown to contribute to effective weight loss when consumed daily as part of moderate fat, high [monounsaturated fatty acid] MUFA, Mediterranean-style diets.”6

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Why are nuts linked so closely with weight loss?

Many reasons have been offered in the literature, ranging form nuts’ general nutrient profiles to their overall ability to make and keep us full for long periods of time. “In terms of public health recommendations, a handful of nuts (1 ounce or 28 g) daily is beneficial for the prevention of obesity and T2D because they are good sources of unsaturated fats, vegetable proteins, plant sterols, fiber, and antioxidants.”7 Furthermore, “several lines of evidence demonstrate that nuts have high satiety properties.”8 These benefits mostly go unused, though.

Because of widespread methods of calorie-counting and macro tracking, nuts are often put into the category of having too many calories and fat and discarded as a healthy choice.  Other methods are called for to give a more nuanced understanding of nutrition.

“Public health messages should expand beyond ‘eat less’ to also include ‘eat better-quality foods’ because food quality is likely to influence energy balance independent of food quantity. Overly simplified messages focused on reducing intakes of certain macronutrients (eg, dietary fat) to prevent obesity may have led to concerns related to, for example, the fat and energy content of nuts. Because nuts are apparently protective against weight gain despite their high (mostly healthy) fat content, nut consumption may be illustrative of our need to focus messages around overall diet quality instead of single nutrients to improve health.”9

And it is precisely this alternate method being adopted by choosing peanut and almond butter, along with pecans, hazelnuts, and macadamias in this mixed nut chocolate cake.

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By using nut and nut butter, this cake was able to cut down on the amount of processed flour being used and simultaneously make a slice more filling for longer than traditional cake recipes. Additionally, the sugar level was kep minimal by substituting in dark chocolate and cacao for milk chocolate. Finally, by recommending this cake be eaten as a dessert to a full, balanced meal, one can easily enjoy a small slice without being guilt-ridden or worrying about overloading on calories.

 

References:

1. McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner, 2004. p. 712.

2. Fernández-Sánchez, Alba; Madrigal-Santillán, Eduardo; Bautista, Mirandeli; Esquivel-Soto, Jaime; Morales-González, Ángel; Esquivel-Chirino, Cesar; Durante-Montiel, Irene; Sánchez-Rivera, Graciela; Valadez-Vega, Carmen; and. Morales-González, José A. Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Obesity. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12, 3117-3132; doi:10.3390/ijms12053117. p. 3129.

3. Grassi, Davide, Cristina Lippi, Stefano Necozione, Giovambattista Desideri, and Claudio Ferri. "Short-term Administration of Dark Chocolate Is Followed by a Significant Increase in Insulin Sensitivity and a Decrease in Blood Pressure in Healthy Persons." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81, no. 3 (2005): 611-14. doi:10.1093/ajcn/81.3.611. p. 614.

4. Shah, Syed Raza, Richard Alweis, Najla Issa Najim, Amin Muhammad Dharani, Muhammad Ahmed Jangda, Maira Shahid, Ahmed Nabeel Kazi, and Syed Arbab Shah. "Use of Dark Chocolate for Diabetic Patients: A Review of the Literature and Current Evidence." Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives 7, no. 4 (2017): 218-21. doi:10.1080/20009666.2017.1361293. p. 220.

5. Mattes, Richard D., Penny M. Kris-Etherton, and Gary D. Foster. "Impact of Peanuts and Tree Nuts on Body Weight and Healthy Weight Loss in Adults." The Journal of Nutrition 138, no. 9 (2008): 1741S-745S. doi:10.1093/jn/138.9.1741s. p. 1741S.

6. Higgs, Jennette. "The Potential Role of Peanuts in the Prevention of Obesity." Nutrition & Food Science 35, no. 5 (2005): 353-58. doi:10.1108/00346650510625566. p. 356.

7. Jackson, Chandra L., and Frank B. Hu. "Long-term Associations of Nut Consumption with Body Weight and Obesity." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 100, no. Suppl_1 (June 04, 2014): 1S-4S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.071332. p. 4S.

8. Mattes, Richard D., Penny M. Kris-Etherton, and Gary D. Foster. "Impact of Peanuts and Tree Nuts on Body Weight and Healthy Weight Loss in Adults." The Journal of Nutrition 138, no. 9 (2008): 1741S-745S. doi:10.1093/jn/138.9.1741s. p. 1743S.

9. Jackson, Chandra L., and Frank B. Hu. "Long-term Associations of Nut Consumption with Body Weight and Obesity." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 100, no. Suppl_1 (June 04, 2014): 1S-4S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.071332. pp. 3S-4S.