Research Proven Weight Loss: Calcium Versus Dairy

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Can Calcium Increase Weight Loss

I already did an article that showed research raving that yogurt can help with weight loss.  We are told that milk and calcium are good for the bones and teeth.  I have read that calcium can do it also, but is there research to back that up?  

Pouring milk

Pouring milk

Research on Calcium / Dairy and Weight Loss:

  1. One study looked at obese patients and abdominal visceral fat (fat in the belly) and found that supplementation of calcium produced a significant reduction in fat in this body location[1].  
  2. Another study looked 60 obese and overweight women who had a low calcium intake and supplemented them wit 800 mg of calcium.  It found that supplementation reduced not long their appetitie but also produced significant fat loss through decrease lipid intake[2].
  3. Another study found that higher calcium intake increased fecal fat content.  If you absorb less fat, you would likely gain less fat mass after meals[3].  Unfortunately , it did not show a significant difference in appetite but it was not long enough o measure body mass gain.  
  4. A dairy virus calcium study showed that calcium by itself did not make a difference in weight loss, but dairy 3 times day did cause significant weight loss[4].
  5. Several studies by Zemel at the University of Tennessee looked at calcium dairy and weight loss.  They showed at both dairy and calcium helped with weight loss and maintenance[5],[6],[7],[8].  What the research by Zemel shows is that Calcium likely helps increase weight loss in those that are calcium deficient and it might help with others.  
Assorted Cheeses

Assorted Cheeses

Recommendation on calcium:

  1. Calcium supplementation is suggested if you are deficient in intake.  Calcium likely helps with weight loss if you do not get enough normally.  I would suggest that it may decrease craving for calcium containing foods.  If you take a pill, make sure it had Vitamin D.  You cannot absorb calcium without adequate Vitamin D.  Recommended at 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day.  
  2. Calcium supplementation may help weight loss in those who already get enough calcium.   I do recommend it but only at 500-600 mg of calcium per day,  Always buy calcium with vitamin D added.    
  3. Dairy likely helps with weight loss.  Dairy 2-3 times a day is a good source of protein.  I recommend Fairlife Ultra-filtered Skim.  It tastes great and has more calcium.   

I recommend that you try to get you calcium in the form yogurt, cheese, or milk.  They are filling and taste better than an pill.  Dairy and meat are really the only low-fat versions of food I recommend.  

Footnotes
[1]Rosenblum et al., “Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation Is Associated with Decreased Abdominal Visceral Adipose Tissue in Overweight and Obese Adults.”
[2]Major et al., “Calcium plus Vitamin D Supplementation and Fat Mass Loss in Female Very Low-Calcium  Consumers: Potential Link with a Calcium-Specific Appetite Control.”
[3]Lorenzen et al., “Effect of Dairy Calcium or Supplementary Calcium Intake on Postprandial Fat Metabolism, Appetite, and Subsequent Energy Intake.”
[4]Booth et al., “Effect of Increasing Dietary Calcium through Supplements and Dairy Food on Body Weight and Body Composition: A Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.”
[5]Zemel et al., “Dairy-Rich Diets Augment Fat Loss on an Energy-Restricted Diet: A Multicenter Trial.”
[6]Zemel et al., “Effects of Dairy Intake on Weight Maintenance.”
[7]Zemel et al., “Calcium and Dairy Acceleration of Weight and Fat Loss during Energy Restriction in Obese Adults.”
[8]Zemel, “Role of Calcium and Dairy Products in Energy Partitioning and Weight Management.”
Booth, AO, CE Huggins, N Wattanapenpaiboon, and CA Nowson. “Effect of Increasing Dietary Calcium through Supplements and Dairy Food on Body Weight and Body Composition: A Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.” The British Journal of Nutrition 114, no. 7 (October 14, 2015): 1013–25. [PubMed]
Lorenzen, JK, S Nielsen, JJ Holst, I Tetens, JF Rehfeld, and A Astrup. “Effect of Dairy Calcium or Supplementary Calcium Intake on Postprandial Fat Metabolism, Appetite, and Subsequent Energy Intake.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 85, no. 3 (March 1, 2007): 678–87. [PubMed]
Major, GC, FP Alarie, J Doré, and A Tremblay. “Calcium plus Vitamin D Supplementation and Fat Mass Loss in Female Very Low-Calcium  Consumers: Potential Link with a Calcium-Specific Appetite Control.” The British Journal of Nutrition 101, no. 5 (March 1, 2009): 659–63. [PubMed]
Rosenblum, JL, VM Castro, CE Moore, and LM Kaplan. “Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation Is Associated with Decreased Abdominal Visceral Adipose Tissue in Overweight and Obese Adults.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 95, no. 1 (January 1, 2012): 101–8. [PubMed]
Zemel, MB. “Role of Calcium and Dairy Products in Energy Partitioning and Weight Management.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79, no. 5 (May 1, 2004): 907S–912S. [PubMed]
Zemel, MB, JE Donnelly, BK Smith, DK Sullivan, J Richards, D Morgan-Hanusa, MS Mayo, et al. “Effects of Dairy Intake on Weight Maintenance.” Nutrition & Metabolism 5 (October 24, 2008): 28. [PubMed]
Zemel, MB, D Teegarden, MV Loan, DA Schoeller, V Matkovic, RM Lyle, and BA Craig. “Dairy-Rich Diets Augment Fat Loss on an Energy-Restricted Diet: A Multicenter Trial.” Nutrients 1, no. 1 (January 1, 2009): 83–100. [PubMed]
Zemel, MB, W Thompson, A Milstead, K Morris, and P Campbell. “Calcium and Dairy Acceleration of Weight and Fat Loss during Energy Restriction in Obese Adults.” Obesity Research 12, no. 4 (April 1, 2004): 582–90. [PubMed]
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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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