Dairy, Calcium, and Weight Loss

You eat your vegetables every day. You exercise. You take a multivitamin, and perhaps a dietary supplement such as soy, fish oil, hoodia cactus, or a calcium pill. However, you’re still tipping the scales. What’s the catch?

According to recent research, if you’re struggling to lose weight, you may be skimping on dairy products. Many dieters remove cheese and milk from their meals when they cut back on calories, preventing their bodies from burning fat efficiently.

What does this news mean for dieters? Exchange your calcium pill for three to four daily servings of low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese. Overall, your daily intake of dairy calcium should be 1,200 to 1,300 mg. While calcium pills and calcium-fortified foods are helpful for losing weight, dairy calcium helps many people shed fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. Strong, lean muscles in turn boost metabolism, helping the body burn even more fat.

More Dairy, Less Waist

A recent study of dieters revealed that those who consumed 1,200 or more milligrams of dairy calcium lost almost 10 pounds more, on average than those who take less than 500 mg of calcium per day. Meanwhile, dieters who consumed 800-mg calcium supplements lost an average of 5 pounds more than the low-calcium dieters and 5 pounds less than the dairy calcium dieters.

Though calcium alone boosts the breakdown of fat, dairy products promote fat loss overall, and more fat loss from problem areas such as the abdomen. It may be due, in part, to the naturally occurring combination of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and protein. Specifically, dairy calcium helps reduce fat around the waist, which may reduce your clothing size, as well as your risk of heart disease.

Dealing with Dairy Sensitivities

Most people find it easy to add dairy to their diets. However, what if you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to milk?

Depending on the severity of your intolerance, you may be able to consume cultured milk products—such as yogurt and cheese—with few problems. Talk to your doctor to determine how strong an intolerance you have, and which dairy foods you might be able to handle. Also, consider trying low-lactose milk, such as Lactaid, which is for those with dairy sensitivities.

In addition to trimming down your waistline, dairy calcium can help guard your bones against breakage and osteoporosis. Your bones may be weak if you’ve been avoiding dairy calcium to cut calories or avoid digestive problems.

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