Dairy Foods Help Burn Fat, Speed Weight Loss
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Dairy Products Beat Calcium for Weight Loss continued...
Researchers say participants were free to choose from fat-free,
low-fat, and regular milk, cheese, and yogurt. They typically picked fat-free
and low-fat milk and yogurt and regular cheeses, while keeping their overall
fat intake the same.
Serving sizes were 8 ounces or a cup for milk and yogurt and
1.5 ounces of hard cheese (about the size of six dice) or 2 ounces of processed
cheese, such as two slices of American cheese.
The study showed that all of the groups lost weight, but those
who ate the dairy-rich diet lost the most with an average of 24 pounds compared
with 19 pounds in the calcium supplement group and 15 pounds in the
That translates to a loss of an average of 11% of total body
weight for those in the high-dairy group versus 6% in the low-calcium/low-dairy
"What that means is that if you're including three to four
servings of dairy in your diet, you can make a modest degree of calorie
restriction as effective as a severe degree of calorie restriction," Zemel
In addition, researchers found the high-dairy group lost
significantly more body fat than those in the other groups, particularly from
the midsection. Excess fat in the abdominal area has been linked to a higher
risk of heart attack and other health problems.
Dairy's Role in Weight Loss
Previous studies have shown that calcium can boost weight loss
by increasing fat breakdown in fat cells. But experts say this study suggests
that taking in calcium from dairy products may actually improve on those
"Dairy for some reason, yet unexplained, has a greater
effect on fat loss and specifically trunk fat loss than does calcium
alone," says Rachel Novotny, PhD, RD, professor and chair of the department
of human nutrition, food, and animal sciences at the University of Hawaii in
Although the bulk of dairy's weight-loss enhancing effects is
caused by its calcium content, researchers say there are a variety of potential
mechanisms that may explain those additional benefits and merit further