A number of studies have been commissioned over the years to look at the consumption of dairy products and its relation to weight loss. Some scientists have been particularly interested in this question: Does Calcium Help Weight Loss? The answer, from the studies that have been done, seems to be yes, but is this true – is this fact or fiction? We take a deeper look at what’s been said.
In 2004, a study by the National Dairy Council (and a sponsor of WebMD, on which this study is summarized) came to the conclusion that “If you compare a dairy-rich versus a dairy-poor diet you can nearly double the rate of weight and fat loss with the same level of calorie restriction," states Michael Zemel, PhD, researcher for this study (source: WebMD).
The premise of the above study is that the calcium in dairy products somehow binds to fat preventing its absorption. In an earlier study by Michael Zemel (source: WebMD) obese mice were put on a calorie-restricted diet and fed varying amounts of low fat milk or put on calcium supplements. Those fed the low fat milk experienced the highest rate of weight loss, although all the mice experienced a rate of weight loss, including those not ingesting milk.
Most recently, however, in late 2008, researchers from Switzerland’s University of Lausanne and Nestle Research Center, did a 20 weeks study involving 10 obese people whose diet did not include enough calcium, and concluded that making calcium a part of their diet was not a help in weight loss (source: eMedicineHealth).
So the debate rages on. A majority of researchers still believe that calcium plays a role in weight loss, especially in those who do not intake enough dairy. I guess we should also clarify that milk is not the only source of calcium, as many vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach also contain rich sources of calcium. So, instead of drinking a glass of milk, one could substitute the following and still get an equivalent of calcium:
- Two cups of kale
- Three cups of broccoli
- Eight cups of spinach
The question now has become a matter of discovering what are the best sources of calcium that contribute to weight loss as well as delineating what are the additional factors that may trigger weigh loss – factors which have yet to be clearly identified and proven.