Research: Kefir may assist with weight loss

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Kefir is as effective as dairy and yogurt in helping with weight loss.

Kefir Milk

Kefir Milk

Most dieters are looking for that food to give them a leg up on their weight gain to assist them with weight loss.  Recently, you may have read a lot about probiotics reducing abdominal symptoms and maybe even helping with reducing your weight.  You may have even written about dairy and yogurt and that they may even help with weight loss.  Kefir might be the best of both worlds because it is dairy, yogurt, and a probiotic.  

What is probiotic? Probiotics have become quite popular today. Probiotics are live cultures of bacteria or yeast that are good for our gastrointestinal health.  These products have been found to modulate intestinal microflora and thus influence our digestive processes and metabolism.  It is conjectured that probiotics may influence the body weight through reducing food intake.

What is kefir?  Kefir is a product made from the fermentation of milk.  It is very similar to yogurt but is fermented longer and thus has less lactose.  It is made from either cow or goats milk.  The process of making it starts by adding kefir grains to the milk and allowing it to ferment.  These “kefir grains” are actually live cultures of bacteria and yeast.  Once the milk starts looking clumpy, it is filtered to remove the grains and clumps. 

Carolina Farms Kefir

Carolina Farms Kefir

Kefir milk is commercially available, and you will likely find it in your local grocery store in the yogurt section.  Kefir milk has similar nutritional properties to milk.  It is a good source of protein, but as I said above, it has less lactose.  It should lead to less adverse symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea. 

So does it help with weight loss? Although controversy exists regarding whether increasing dairy intake without energy restriction would lead to weight loss, the answer is clear that dairy does seem to help.  The protein will keep you full and the research points to kefir being as effective as milk or other dairy products in assisting with weight loss[1].  In a study from 2015, researchers aimed to compare the potential weight-reducing effects of kefir drink and milk in a dairy-rich non-energy-restricted diet in overweight or obese premenopausal women.  The study included seventy-five obese and overweight female subjects, aged 25-45 years of age, in a randomized controlled trial.  They were assigned to three groups, labeled as control, milk, and kefir to receive an outpatient dietary regimen for eight weeks.  Anthropometric outcomes including weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference (WC) were measured every two weeks for the 8-week study.  The of the results revealed that subjects in the kefir and milk groups had significantly greater reductions in weight, BMI, and WC compared to those in the control group.  However, no such significant differences were found between the kefir and milk groups.  

The bottom line: Kefir appears to lead to a similar weight loss, when compared to milk, in a dairy-rich non-energy-restricted diet in overweight or obese premenopausal women.   There is no indication that men would not experience similar results.  However, further studies are warranted.  Kefir can be a helpful part of any calorie and portion controlled diet for those trying to control their weight.  The probiotics effects can also reduce abdominal discomfort.

Footnotes
[1]Fathi et al., “Kefir Drink Leads to a Similar Weight Loss, Compared with Milk, in a Dairy-Rich Non-Energy-Restricted Diet in Overweight or Obese Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”
Fathi, Yasamin, Shiva Faghih, Mohammad Javad Zibaeenezhad, and Sayed Hamid Reza Tabatabaei. “Kefir Drink Leads to a Similar Weight Loss, Compared with Milk, in a Dairy-Rich Non-Energy-Restricted Diet in Overweight or Obese Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” European Journal of Nutrition 55, no. 1 (February 5, 2015): 295–304. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-0846-9.
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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