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Dairy products, calcium, and fat intake
The National Dairy Council would have you believe that three servings of dairy products per day will help you lose weight. That's not quite true, as the original research followed people who had not previously been getting enough calcium going on a reduced-calorie diet that included the recommended three servings of low-fat dairy products in their diet plan.
Should I be drinking 3 servings of milk a day?
It is certainly not necessary to drink milk, and doing so could explain any difficulty you are having losing weight. Three glasses a day adds up to about 300 calories, even if it's skim milk (each 8 ounce cup is 91 calories but most folks pour more than 8 ounces). That's a lot of extra calories each day you don't need.
Calcium & Vitamin D Supplements: The Risk/Benefit Ratio
Not long ago I got an email from a Dr. Gourmet reader who was frustrated by some of my answers to Ask Dr. Gourmet questions. For example, the question about whether drinking diet soda is linked to obesity. There isn't a lot of evidence, and it certainly doesn't show that drinking diet soda will cause obesity, but it doesn't look like drinking soda of any kind is all that great an idea, especially when coffee, tea and water isdefinitely great for you.
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A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the association between calcium and dairy intake and long-term weight change in US men. In an analysis of questionnaires sent to 19,615 health professionals between the years of 1986 and 1998, scientists found that a change in intake of total calcium, including calcium from dairy products, was not significantly associated with a change in weight. This was true even when evaluating dietary, dairy, or supplemental calcium separately rather than as total calcium intake from all sources.
Rather than losing weight, as the dairy council might have us believe, the men with the largest increase in total dairy intake actually gained slightly more weight over the course of the 12-year study than those who decreased their dairy intake the most. The scientists attribute this change to an increase in high-fat dairy products; low-fat dairy intake was not associated with weight change. (Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83(3):559-66)
Take your calcium, but don’t expect to lose weight because of it.
First posted: April 19, 2006