A reader asks the following question:
“I heard studies say adding 3 servings of dairy products to your diet will help you lose weight. Does it matter which dairy products I add?”
Please join this discussion and post your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s what I think . . .
Dairy . . . now to the next part of the question
There have been many studies examining possible relationships between obesity, weight management, and dairy consumption. The dairy industry as used some of these studies to tout the weight loss benefits of drinking milk. But, all the research was completed using homogonized, pasturized dairy. Which begets the first problem. This type of milk is basically dead – there is no life force left for our own body. Then synthetic vitamins are added to compensate. My opinions might be different if we were discussing dairy from pastured, grass-fed cows, but that isn’t what was included in the studies.
So, in fairness let’s take a look at the question from the view point of the studies rather than from my opinions.
Dairy products are complex, from a nutritional viewpoint and the body’s ability to metabolize dairy is very individual so how it effects weight is just as individual. In general, when you take into account all the factors in the studies, such as calorie restrictions, exercise, and increased levels of good quality foods, there isn’t a clear benefit derived solely from adding dairy products.
In the studies the products used included the benefit of added calcium. Calcium is one of the minerals needed for healthy weight loss because calcium levels inside fat cells help regulate hormonal production and other metabolic activities of fat cells. Obviously this can have an effect on weight. In these studies there was positive associations between dairy consumption and weight management but it isn’t clear if this outcome is from the dairy products themselves of just the ingesting of additional calcium.
From my research, the conclusions reached by these studies doesn’t hold up.
Diary Types – Does It Matter?
Now to the final part of the question, does the type of dairy matter. Most definitely! Non-fat and low-fat products usually include fillers and flavorings to compensate for the loss of fat. Additionally, vitamins A,D, E, & K require fat in order to absorb so eating no-fat diary with added synthetic vitamin A & D isn’t going to help your waistline or your nutritional health.
These questions always come down to individuality. If your body tolerates and you love yogurt or a glass of milk then it might be a good food for you. Raw dairy products can be a great source of protein, vitmin D, calcium, and trytophan. Raw yogurt additionally has zinc, moybdenum, and pantothenic acid. Commercially processed dairy products are seldom tolerated well in the body and offer no nutritional benefit, so those dairy products aren’t worth the calories.
From my perspective we want to obtain optimal health with will ultimately lead to the proper weight so I seldom focus on weight loss as the overall goal. Within that context, it may be indicated that dairy products are a good fit. If so, then choose raw dairy options and substitute them for less healthy options such as raw milk in place of soda, or raw cheese and veggies instead of a candy bar. Either way, don’t just “add” servings of dairy products to your diet with the concept that alone will reduce your weight.
Barba G, Russo P. Dairy foods, dietary calcium and obesity: a short review of the evidence. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2006 Sep;16(6):445-51.
Bowen J, Noakes M, Clifton PM. A high dairy protein, high-calcium diet minimizes bone turnover in overweight adults during weight loss. J Nutr 2004 Mar;134(3):568-73.
Bowen J, Noakes M, Clifton PM. Effect of calcium and dairy foods in high protein, energy-restricted diets on weight loss and metabolic parameters in overweight adults. Int J Obes (Lond) 2005 Aug;29(8):957-65.
Dixon LB, Pellizzon MA, Jawad AF, Tershakovec AM. Calcium and dairy intake and measures of obesity in hyper- and normocholesterolemic children. Obes Res 2005 Oct;13(10):1727-38.
Harvey-Berino J, Gold BC, Lauber R, Starinski A. The impact of calcium and dairy product consumption on weight loss. Obes Res 2005 Oct;13(10):1720-6.
Huang TT, McCrory MA. Dairy intake, obesity, and metabolic health in children and adolescents: knowledge and gaps. Nutr Rev 2005 Mar;63(3):71-80.
Lanou AJ. Data do not support recommending dairy products for weight loss. Obes Res 2005 Jan;13(1):191.
Lukaszuk JM, Luebbers P, Gordon BA. Preliminary study: soy milk as effective as skim milk in promoting weight loss. J Am Diet Assoc 2007 Oct;107(10):1811-4.
Mateljan, George. (2006). The World’s Healthiest Foods: An Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation.
Pereira MA, Jacobs DR Jr, Van Horn L, Slattery ML, Kartashov AI, Ludwig DS. Dairy consumption, obesity, and the insulin resistance syndrome in young adults: the CARDIA Study. JAMA 2002 Apr 24;287(16):2081-9.
Rosell M, Johansson G, Berglund L, Vessby B, de Faire U, Hellenius ML. Associations between the intake of dairy fat and calcium and abdominal obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2004 Nov;28(11):1427-34.
Thompson WG, Rostad Holdman N, Janzow DJ, Slezak JM, Morris KL, Zemel MB. Effect of energy-reduced diets high in dairy products and fiber on weight loss in obese adults. Obes Res 2005 Aug;13(8):1344-53.
Zemel MB. Calcium and dairy modulation of obesity risk. Obes Res 2005 Jan;13(1):192-3.
Zemel MB, Miller SL. Dietary calcium and dairy modulation of adiposity and obesity risk. Nutr Rev 2004 Apr;62(4):125-31.
Zemel MB, Richards J, Milstead A, Campbell P. Effects of calcium and dairy on body composition and weight loss in African-American adults. Obes Res 2005 Jul;13(7):1218-25.
Zemel MB, Thompson W, Milstead A, Morris K, Campbell P. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obes Res 2004 Apr;12(4):582-90.