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Healthy Weight Center > Nutrition > Milk's Role

Adding Up Milk's Role in Weight Loss
by Christine Palumbo, RD

Three glasses of milk a day can be a powerful waistline trimmer, according to new research from the University of Tennessee.

The study, published in the journal Obesity Research, found that the calcium contained in milk and other dairy foods, speeds up both weight and fat loss when calories are reduced in overweight people.

This adds to the growing body of research that suggests that the simple act of adding milk and other dairy foods to the diet can actually be a weight loss aid.

The 24 week study divided thirty-two overweight but otherwise healthy people into three groups: a high dairy group, a high-calcium supplement/low dairy group, and a group with low calcium/low dairy.

All three groups ate 500 fewer calories per day than usual. They did not change their usual exercise habits. After 24 weeks, those who consumed the greatest amount of milk and other dairy foods lost significantly more body weight, as well as body fat, than the other two groups. Specifically, the high dairy group lost an average of 24 pounds, 11 percent of their total body weight, and 16 pounds of fat. Those taking calcium supplements lost 19 pounds, 9 percent of their total body weight and 12 pounds of fat. The group without calcium supplements and who ate less than one dairy serving a day lost the least amount of weight (15 pounds), only 6 percent of total body weight, and 11 pounds of fat.

Interestingly, both the high dairy and high-calcium supplement group had the same amount of calcium (1200-1300 milligrams), but it came from different sources. Lead researcher Michael Zemel, Ph.D., suspects that the unique combination of milk's nutrients somehow improves metabolism and weight loss compared to calcium supplements.

Fat free milk, at 90 calories per eight-ounce glass, provides about 300 milligrams of dietary calcium, or 30 percent of the Daily Value needed. It's also a rich source of protein, potassium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, and D, riboflavin, B12, and niacin.


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