Losing Weight -- Do you have to skip dessert?

Tips for High Nutrition, Low Calorie Desserts
Smaller portions or healthier ingredients may allow you to enjoy dessert a still work on losing weight.
Smaller portions or healthier ingredients may allow you to enjoy dessert a still work on losing weight.
Stephanie Rausser/Getty Images

Since the ingredients that really ratchet up the calories in desserts are fats and sugar, choosing options that taste good but don't have a lot of unhealthy ingredients will help keep you on your diet. Adding some other things to your dessert list, like fruits and whole grains, will also help to make dessert good for you as well as a not-so-guilty pleasure.

If you're buying a packaged dessert, review the nutritional label for information about how much of your daily recommended allowance of fat is included in a serving. Since fat should constitute less than 30 percent of an average daily diet, and you'll be eating less if you're trying to lose weight, you should pay particular attention to the amount of fat in any packaged or prepared dessert. Fat is one of the most highly concentrated food sources on earth. Weighing in at nine calories per gram, it can start piling on the pounds quickly if you're not careful. A single serving of Häagen-Dazs Butter Pecan ice cream, for instance, contains 310 calories and 23 grams of fat. This is an extreme example, but it illustrates the point that dessert can undermine any diet if you're not careful about the choices you make [source: Ehrenfeld].

For healthier options, stick with desserts that are low in fat and sugar and high in fiber. When making your own desserts, substitute ingredients in standard dessert recipes to create lower calorie versions. Adding applesauce as part of the oil requirement in recipes and substituting low or non-fat milk for milk or cream can work, too. You can also explore low fat and calorie dessert recipes that have good nutritional value.

Another option is to indulge in a decadent dessert from time to time, but keep the portion size small and be aware of the fat and sugar content going in. A half portion with a little exercise thrown in for good measure is a workable solution if you have the discipline to push yourself away from the table with some cheesecake or apple pie still on your dessert plate.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • AOL Living. "Can Eating Dessert Help You Lose Weight?" (Nov. 15, 2009)http://channels.isp.netscape.com/homerealestate/package.jsp?name=fte/dessertweightloss/dessertweightloss
  • Bobroff, Linda. "Nutrition for Health and Fitness: Fat in Your Diet." University of Florida Extension. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/HE695
  • Bonné, Jon. "It's Official: Eat Less, Get More Exercise." MSNBC. Jan. 13, 2005. (Nov. 15, 2009)http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6816952/
  • Connecticut State Department of Education. "Worksheet for Determining Whether Snacks and Desserts Meet the Connecticut Nutrition Standards" Jan. 2008. (Nov. 17, 2009)http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Student/NutritionEd/1WorksheetSnacksDesserts.pdf
  • Dreyfuss, Ira. "Saving Room for Dessert May Help Dieters." Associated Press. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://www.figureitoutfitness.com/health_news.html
  • Ehrenfeld, Temma. "The Most Fattening Ice Cream Flavors." May 22, 2008. (Nov. 17, 2009)http://www.newsweek.com/id/138230
  • Henneman, Alice MS, RD. "Making the Most of Our Dessert Calories." March 2005. (Nov. 17, 2009)http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftmar05.htm
  • Levitt, Shelley. "Bend These Weight Loss Rules." (Nov. 15, 2009)http://health.msn.com/weight-loss/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100246375
  • Shelnutt, Karla. "Healthy Eating: Understanding the Nutrition Facts Label." University of Florida Extension. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FY1127

More to Explore