We all know how important getting adequate calcium is for building strong bones and teeth, and for preventing osteoporosis, a condition of gradually weakening brittle bones. But did you know recent research has discovered that adding calcium to your diet can also promote increased weight loss? Isn't that great news for millions of Americans who are struggling with their weight?
Of course, calcium needs a little help in this weight loss battle, through the reduction of calories in your diet and/or increased physical activity, but when an adequate intake of calcium is combined with a sensible weight loss plan, results are even greater! It appears that when the diet is low in calcium, a key enzyme responsible for storing fat and preventing the breakdown of fat is elevated, thereby contributing to increased body fat and weight. Conversely, a high calcium intake appears to have the opposite effect, resulting in both weight and body fat loss.
Is it calcium or is it dairy?
To answer this question, researchers conducted a 24-week study with 32 obese adults who consumed a reduced-calorie diet designed for weight loss. The participants were divided into three groups with varied calcium/dairy intake. One group was supplied with a calcium supplement of 400-500 mg per day, with no significant source of calcium from the diet. The second group received 1200-1300 mg per day from a calcium supplement, and the third group received 1200-1300 mg per day from calcium-rich dairy products.
The results were more than significant. All groups lost weight, but both groups receiving adequate calcium resulted in a significantly greater weight and fat loss than the group with inadequate calcium intake. But wait, that's not all! The group consuming 1200-1300 mg calcium from dairy products had an even greater weight and fat loss. This evidence suggests that a weight management plan should include adequate levels of calcium, and that dairy sources of calcium are an even better way to go.
Are you lactose intolerant?
Lactose is the natural sugar contained in dairy products. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, people who believe they are lactose intolerant (and therefore avoid milk) do not actually demonstrate clinical symptoms. New research indicates that most people can tolerate one and even two glasses of milk. It has also been found that if lactose is consumed on a regular basis, and with other foods, it is better tolerated than if it is only consumed occasionally, and alone.
In other words, symptoms are more likely to occur with a consistent dairy-"free" diet and that occasional ice cream cone on an empty stomach, then if one consistently consumed dairy on a daily basis.
However, if this still doesn't work for you, consider using a lactase enzyme with your dairy consumption, such as Lactaid® or purchase milk with the lactase enzyme pre-added. Cheese and yogurt, also excellent sources of calcium, seem to be more easily tolerated than milk in people reporting lactose intolerance. And of course, low-fat and fat-free versions of dairy products are always better choices, when weight management is an issue. Children less than two years of age, however, still require the full-fat dairy versions.
This is exciting news on the benefits of consuming calcium and dairy products in an effort to promote fat and weight loss. With today's epidemic of obesity getting worse everyday, we need all the help we can get!
Cheryl Winter, M.S., R.D., R.N. is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Registered Nurse and ACSM Fitness Instructor. Cheryl is owner and operator of HealthSteps Rx, Inc. at http://www.HealthStepsRx.com a wellness organization that will help you Build a Better Life One Step at a Time. You can reach Cheryl at info@HealthStepsRx.com. Learn all about HealthSteps Rx, Inc. Weight Management Program via TeleClasses, without leaving your home or office by visiting: http://www.healthstepsrx.com/services/online/steppower.htm.© 2005 Cheryl Winter
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