Calcium, Dairy Foods and Belly Fat

Calcium, Dairy Foods and Belly FatAre you trying to lose stubborn belly fat? Not only does belly fat make it harder to zip up your jeans, there’s a deeper kind of abdominal fat called visceral fat that’s not as visible, but it’s twice as deadly. Visceral fat increases the risk of health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

It goes without saying that you’d like to blast away that belly fat, but what’s the best way to do it? Exercise is important, but the composition of your diet counts too. According to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition, eating a diet that’s higher in dairy and protein could make it easier to shed body fat, especially abdominal fat.

 Belly Fat, Protein and Dairy

Researchers at McMaster University compared the amount of weight loss among 3 groups of 90 healthy, but overweight young women. The women exercised daily doing a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training. They differed in the amount of dairy and protein they consumed in their diet.

Over the course of the study, the researchers found that women that ate the highest amount of protein and dairy lost twice as much belly fat as those who ate less dairy and protein. They also gained 1.5 pounds of muscle, while the low-dairy group lost 1.5 pounds of muscle. This gain in lean body mass means more metabolically active tissue to burn more calories.

This isn’t the first study to show a link between dairy products and weight loss. Some research suggests that eating a diet rich in dairy foods can almost double the rate of weight loss. Researchers believe it’s the calcium in dairy that’s responsible for the fat-burning effects, but don’t count on calcium supplements to do the job. Calcium supplements don’t have the same benefits as getting calcium naturally through food. Plus, the safety of calcium supplements is being called into question. Some studies suggest they increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

It’s possible that the benefits of calcium for weight loss are enhanced by other components in dairy such as protein and minerals like magnesium. A diet that contains lean protein also boosts weight loss by suppressing appetite and by its thermic effect, which stimulates the metabolism.

Should You Add More Dairy Foods to Your Diet?

Protein and calcium – they’re a good combination if you’re trying to lose belly fat and hang on to your lean body mass. How many servings of dairy do you need to get the benefits? Most experts recommend 3 or 4 dairy servings a day if you’re trying to lose weight. Low-fat cottage cheese is a good choice since a cup of this calcium-rich dairy food has about 28 grams of protein. Greek yogurt is another good option with around 20 grams of protein per cup. Low-fat milk and low-fat cheese are other dairy foods high in protein and calcium.

The problem with eating full-fat dairy is the calories add up quickly, and calories still count when it comes to losing weight. Choose low-fat versions of your favorite dairy foods to remedy this problem.

The Bottom Line?

A diet that contains adequate amounts of lean protein and low-fat dairy foods combined with exercise could help trim away belly fat without the loss of lean body mass. Get your dairy naturally through foods, but don’t forget to do regular resistance training. It’s a powerful combination.



WebMD. “Calcium Supplements May Increase Heart Risk”

WebMD. “Dairy Intake Can Help Build Muscle and Lose Belly Fat”


Related Articles By Cathe:

What Impact Do Dairy Foods Have on Appetite?

Is Cheese Bad for Your Heart – or Not?

Why You Should Reconsider Taking a Calcium Supplement

Why Belly Fat is So Hard to Lose

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