Dairy Foods Help Burn Fat, Speed Weight Loss
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Dairy Products Beat Calcium for Weight Loss continued...
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
For example, Novotny says that some of the minerals in dairy
products, such as phosphorous and magnesium, may enhance calcium's beneficial
effects on fat breakdown within the cells. In addition, the proteins in dairy
products may help preserve muscle and increase metabolism.
But Novotny and Zemel are careful to point out that the results
shouldn't be interpreted as license to indulge in dairy products in hopes of
spurring weight loss. They caution that the bottom line of successful weight
loss is still burning more calories than you take in.
"The question is whether within those calories are there
choices you can make that will enhance the results," says Novotny. "I
think the findings suggest that dairy products and calcium can be helpful in
preserving muscle, losing fat from the upper body, and actually enhancing the
weight loss process."