An extra three to four servings of low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese every day will not cause you to lose weight in and of itself, but increasing dietary calcium while reducing total calories will help you lose more pounds faster, especially abdominal fat, researchers say.
A study published in the April issue of "Obesity Research" found that adults who included dairy foods in a reduced-calorie diet lost an average of 11.07 kilograms (about 24 pounds) in six months, compared with 8.58 kilos (about 19 pounds) on a low-dairy diet supplemented with 800 milligrams of calcium each day and 6.60 kilos (about 15 pounds) on the same diet without extra calcium.
The study included 32 obese adults on balanced diets who reduced their total calories by 500 per day. The study was funded by the National Dairy Council.
"The practical significance of this research is simple: People lose more weight on diets that include three servings of dairy than on diets that don't," said Michael Zemel, director of the University of Tennessee Nutrition Institute.
Dietary calcium significantly contributed to weight loss and fat loss, especially from the abdominal area, Zemel said.
Fat from the abdomen amounted to 19 percent of total fat lost among patients on the low-calcium diet, 50 percent for those taking calcium supplements and 66 percent for those in the high-dairy group.
In an earlier study, Zemel and others had determined that if you increase milk without decreasing other calories, you do not lose weight, but you do change your body fat and associated health risks.
"Even in the absence of calorie restriction, three servings of dairy a day caused a significant loss of body fat and an increase in lean body mass," Zemel said. "Total weight didn't change, but there was a corresponding improvement in lipids, blood pressure and insulin resistance."
c.2004 Fort Worth Star-Telegram