The results of recent studies support the contention that a calcium-rich diet accelerates fat loss in obese adults. Michael Zemel is the researcher and author responsible for much of this information. He writes that dairy sources of calcium contain bioactive compounds (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and the amino acids in whey), which act together with calcium to decrease fat stores. The mechanism occurs through a hormone called calcitriol. Low levels of dietary calcium cause an increased production of calcitriol by the body. The hormone causes the body to hoard its calcium stores by sending more calcium into fat cells and storing more fat. When calcium is increased in the diet, then calcitriol production decreases. Less calcium goes into fat cells. Less fat is stored and more is burned.
A study published in April 2004 divided obese patients into three groups. One group was put on a standard weight-loss diet, a second group on this diet with supplemental calcium, and a third group with increased dairy in the diet. The group with the high-dairy lost 70 percent more weight than the group on the standard diet alone. The group with supplemental calcium lost 26 percent more weight than the standard group.
Full disclosure: this research was funded by the dairy industry. Nonetheless, eating dairy products throughout the day in the form of organic whole milk yogurt, non-homogenized whole milk, and cheese has other health benefits as well including the prevention of osteoporosis and maintenance of a favorable balance of protein to carbohydrate in the diet.
Obviously, some people have difficulties eating dairy products because of lactose intolerance, food allergies, or food sensitivities. Tailoring an individual diet to your body’s needs is essential.
Zemel MB, et al. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obesity Research 2004 Apr; 12(4):582-90.
For more information see Zemel’s book.
The Calcium Key, by Michael Zemel, John Wiley and Sons, 2003.
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