Skinny Sipping: Drink Pounds Away
You can trick your metabolism with calcium and fill up with low-calorie beverages to help weight loss.
If you're already at your healthy weight, congratulations. You're in the
minority. Most of us are trying to lose at least a few pounds -- or we
should be trying. Could drinks -- milk, juice, tea -- help you shed
those unlovely ounces?
Milk: Weight-Loss Drug?
In childhood, we heard it: Drink a glass of milk at every meal.
Now TV commercials are touting the weight-loss effects of milk and other dairy
products. Can dairy actually keep weight under control? How is that even
Michael Zemel, PhD, director of the Nutrition Institute at the
University of Tennessee at Knoxville, has published numerous papers on this
subject. He outlines his latest research in the January 2003 Journal of
Nutrition -- mouse studies showing the role of calcium in weight gain and
Too many people drop dairy from their diets when they try to
lose weight, he says. "They're shooting themselves in the foot when they do
that. Dairy products contain literally hundreds of compounds that all have a
positive effect on human health and enhance the fat-burning machinery," he
The Why & How
"When we cut dairy products, we send the body a signal --
to make more fat," says Zemel. "When your body is deprived of calcium,
it begins conserving calcium. That mechanism prompts your body to produce
higher levels of a hormone called calcitriol, and that triggers an increased
production of fat cells."
High levels of calcitriol "tell" fat cells to store
themselves in the body, he says. This increase in calcitriol also
"tells" fat cells to expand, he says. "So you're getting bigger,
fatter fat cells. And a lot of big, fat cells makes for a big, fat
Extra calcium in your diet suppresses this hormone, he says.
Your body breaks down more fat, and fat cells become leaner, trimmer. A
high-dairy diet can boost weight loss by about 70%, Zemel tells WebMD.
But wait, there's more. "It turns out that milk, cheese,
and yogurt are much more effective than calcium supplements or
calcium-fortified foods," Zemel says. Why? Dairy products are a complex
collection of compounds. Like phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables,
there's more than vitamins and minerals in dairy products. "They are not
classically nutrients, but are recognized as having beneficial