Can Eating Dairy Products Help You Lose Weight?

CoachMel Food Groups 15 Comments

Are you a dairy lover of hater? There are many differing ideas out there about whether we should or shouldn’t be eating dairy.

For me, it’s a great source of nutrition, packed to the brim with essential nutrients.

Lately I’ve come across a few interesting studies about dairy, and so I thought I’d share them with you here…

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1. Milk Increases Satiety

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that drinking fat free milk in the morning helped increase the feeling of fullness, and subsequently led to decreased calorie intake at the next meal in comparison to a fruit drink.

The study showed that those who drank milk ate around 50 fewer calories at lunchtime. Possible reasons for this were the:

  • Milk’s protein content
  • Natural sugar in milk, called lactose
  • Thickness of the milk

2. Dairy Calcium Leads to Fat Excretion

Another study published in Obesity Reviews, reported that diets higher in dairy calcium caused greater excretion of fat in the feces, than diets which were lower in calcium.

This study is pretty exciting, suggesting a reduced amount of fat may be absorbed by the body when your diet is higher in calcium, and therefore weight loss could be achieved.

Researchers found that the calcium effect was most pronounced when dairy calcium foods were given to people who didn’t normally have a high calcium intake, and less pronounced in those who were already eating a calcium-rich diet.

They found that adding 1241mg of calcium to the diet each day caused an additional 5.2g of fat to be excreted in the feces.

Here in UK we have a facinating TV programme called “The Truth About Food,” and each week they put studies and theories to the test. Last week they decided to put this study in the hot seat, and achieved some very interesting results.

Here’s what they did:

  • Week one was a diet high in calcium (2000mg).
  • Week two was a diet low in calcium (500mg).
  • Crucially, both diets had an identical calorie content and were calculated to have the same fat content.
  • What they discovered: In the high dairy calcium group, twice the percentage of fat eaten came out in their stools, in comparison to when they ate a low calcium diet.

So, what does this mean for you and I?

Well, it seems that adding a glass of milk to your breakfast could be a great way to reduce your calorie intake later in the day.

These studies are also particularly good news if you don’t eat much dairy already – it seems you could benefit most.

The important thing to notice with this second study is that the overall calorie content of subjects diets remained the same – they weren’t simply piling dairy on top of what they were already eating.

The current RDA/RNI for calcium is 1000mg/day for those 19 to 50 years, and 1200mg/day for those 51 years and above. To get this you should aim for 2-3 servings of dairy foods each day.

A serving is equal to:

  • 1 cup (8 fl oz) of milk
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1.5 oz of cheese

What are your thoughts on this research? 

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Comments 15

  1. memory foam

    Very interesting result. I think it corresponds to my own experience with eating dairy products (as far as I can tell from memory). Over the last year I have mostly reduced my consumption of diary products, but have had some weight gain regardless. I can also recall years in the past when I drank quite a lot of milk but did not gain weight.

    The idea of people eating less at lunch after drinking milk earlier sounds right … subjectively, milk does feel filling.

  2. Melanie

    Memory Foam,
    Yes, milk definitely is filling. I suppose people need to be in tune with their hunger though, because they could end up adding extra dairy to their diet on top of everything else they eat, rather than cutting back a little, as you mentioned, at lunchtime.

  3. Neil

    Interesting. Would like to know a couple of things. First off: who is responsible for funding the studies? This “research” smacks of special interest. It would seriously surprise me to find that the dairy industry was not involved.

    Also, how do these studies stack up to others of their kind? I am aware of several studies that are just as well cited and specifically state the opposite result.

    Am all for drinking milk and getting calcium into my diet. I do it myself daily. But, more dairy as a weight loss supplement? Seriously? How does it make sense that the very product (milk) that is responsible for fattening up babies of all species…is now thought to do the opposite (ie.make us skinny)?

    1. Melanie

      Hi Neil,
      Yes, this is always the problem with any research. It’s the same with low carb diets, high-fructose corn syrup, vaccinations, etc, there will always be the problem of researchers making results suit their own agenda.

      I’m not sure what the solution is.

      I see your point about milk fattening babies, but the study is looking at adults who consume all types of food and drink, not just milk. The suggestion is that when your diet is higher in calcium from dairy, a reduced amount of fat may be absorbed by the body.

  4. Christi

    Interesting but my personal experience differs significantly from the research. Other than Greek yogurt and feta cheese I gave up dairy altogether about 8 months ago. I’ve noticed a huge difference. I don’t get bloated and my muscles are so defined. I think people who want to be healthy need to test and try different methods to see what works best for them. For me, no dairy – I can live without the fat, sugar and sodium.

    1. Melanie

      I absolutely agree, Christi. Everyone is so incredibly different, and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Irene

    I discovered whole fat yogurt and milk sold locally at a outdoor farmer. They items are lightly pasteurized. In addition I have been eating the cheese sold by a local farmer. The yogurt is made with fruit and has very little sugar in it at all. Once I tried it I was hooked. The article says that it tends to help people that don’t eat dairy. That was me. I am short and have been having to watch my weight since I was a teen. Anyway, after partaking in eating the high fat foods and continuing to exercise, I have more energy and my close fit me better. I crave calcium. I seem to need it. For me, the article rings true. I would not eat the dairy from the store, though. This is nearly straight from the farm.

    1. Melanie

      Hi Irene,
      Thanks for sharing your experiences, that’s really helpful to read. And, interesting that you find such a benefit health-wise. I think you are very wise only purchasing dairy from your local farmer.

  6. Corinne

    The only thing I’m confused about is this phrase “dairy calcium”. “diet high in dairy calcium contributed to greater excretion of fat”. Commercial milk has bee pasteurized and homogenized, eliminating all the calcium, enzymes and Vitamin D that were naturally there. Synthetic forms of calcium and Vitamin D are then put back by MAN (never a good thing). So, what exactly is “dairy calcium” then? Is the author referring to what was in the milk before it was processed to death? Because after the fact, it’s just another cheap supermarket vitamin that sits in your stomach not being absorbed.

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