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Dairy Can Help Burn Fat
Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2004
In a 24-week study published today in Obesity Research, the official journal of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, adults on a reduced-calorie diet who ate 3-4 servings of dairy foods each day lost an average of 24 pounds, significantly more than those who also cut calories but consumed few or no dairy foods.
In fact, the study indicates that 3-4 daily servings of milk, cheese or yogurt help people lose more weight by helping them burn more fat in the abdominal region, when compared to those who just cut calories or took calcium supplements. The mix of essential nutrients in dairy foods, including calcium and protein, appears to speed up metabolism and improve the body’s ability to burn fat.
“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 lead researcher Michael Zemel, Ph.D., professor of nutrition, director of the Nutrition Institute, University of Tennessee. “By reducing body fat in the abdominal region, people may also reduce their risk of developing several chronic diseases, including heart disease and hypertension.”
Obese adults were placed in one of three groups: one low in calcium and dairy, one high in calcium supplements but low in dairy, and one high in dairy – at least 3-4 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt every day. Each person, regardless of their calcium/dairy group, consumed a diet that was 500 calories lower than their normal caloric intake (see sidebar for more details). Participants were able to choose from fat-free, lowfat and regular dairy products.
After 24 weeks those on the high-dairy diet lost the greatest percentage of total body weight (11%), significantly more than those in the high-calcium supplemented group (9%) and the low-calcium/low-dairy group (6%). Fat loss followed a similar trend, with people on the high-dairy diet losing significantly more body fat than those in the other two groups, specifically in the abdominal region.
“It’s clear from our research that the unique combination of essential nutrients in dairy foods has a powerful, positive impact on metabolism and weight loss,” said Zemel.
Dr. Zemel discovered the dairy-weight loss connection 14 years ago when he was studying hypertension among African-American men and noticed that those who consumed at least two servings of yogurt daily lost an average of 11 pounds during a one-year study without reducing calories. Other researchers have documented similar findings and more research is underway to better identify the role dairy foods play in weight loss.
“The fact that three to four servings of dairy foods daily may help with weight loss, in addition to building strong bones, is great news because people love to eat milk, cheese and yogurt,” said Ann Marie Krautheim, registered dietitian, National Dairy Council. “No matter what diet plan people follow, they should make sure to get at least three servings of dairy foods each day because research shows dairy actually signals the body to burn more fat.”
These findings come at a time when 64 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, meaning most Americans are at risk for weight-related health conditions such as diabetes and increased blood pressure. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, in 2000 the total cost of obesity was estimated to be $117 billion. A recent research review of over 90 studies suggests that increasing dairy food intake to 3-4 servings each day as part of a lower-calorie, nutrient-rich diet could lead to a significant reduction in chronic disease risk, including obesity, diabetes and hypertension, resulting in cost savings of more than $200 billion over five years.
Source: Diabetes In Control.com
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