Milk, Cheese and Dairy in a Weight Loss Diet
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Before the advent of low fat milk, many slimmers cut milk and other dairy products out of their diet in an effort to lose weight.
Even today, it’s not unusual for slimmers to avoid cheese because of its high fat content. However, increasingly we’re hearing about research that suggests dairy products can aid weight loss, particularly helping us to lose weight from around our midriff.
What’s the truth about Dairy Foods and weight Loss?
It’s important to include some dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt in the diet as they are packed with essential nutrients that help to keep us healthy. As well as being good sources of protein, zinc and some B vitamins, dairy products are one of the main sources of calcium in the diet, a mineral that helps to build strong, healthy bones.
Calcium is important because the stronger the bones are, the less likely you’ll be to suffer from the bone-thinning disease, osteoporosis, in later life – a condition that according to the National Osteoporosis Society affects one woman in two and one man in five over the age of 50.
It’s true that milk and cheese in the diet can make a significant contribution to calorie and fat intakes, but there are now plenty of low fat alternatives available, such as skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low-fat yogurts and reduced-fat cheeses.
A pint of low fat skimmed milk, for example, contains just 190 calories and 0.6g fat!
Switching to low-fat dairy products doesn’t mean you’ll get less calcium either. In fact low fat milk actually contains slightly more calcium than full fat milk.
Better still, research shows that dairy products may actually help weight loss. Research reveals that children who drink milk are more likely to have a lower body mass than children who don’t. Other studies have found that people who drink milk and eat dairy foods are likely to be slimmer than those who do not.
In particular, it’s thought that the calcium in dairy products helps us to lose weight by helping to breakdown body fat. Meanwhile, other ingredients in dairy products such as whey proteins, conjugated linoleic acid and amino acids may also have a role to play.
Research has actually found that people who consume dairy products as part of a calorie-controlled diet lose more weight than people who skip dairy – and better still, most of this weight is lost from the waist, which not only makes us look slimmer but also reduces the risk of diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, both of which are linked to an ‘apple’ shape.
Which Dairy Food Should I Eat for Slimming?
Opt for low fat dairy products such as skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and low-fat yogurts. Don’t cut out cheese from your diet completely either. Low fat hard cheese such as Cheddar is now readily available. Other cheeses such as Edam, Feta and Goat’s cheese are also slightly lower in fat than standard Cheddar so are better choices. Cottage cheese is much lower in fat and calories, but it’s also much lower in calcium.
How Much Should I Eat?
Aim for three servings of dairy food each day such as a glass of skimmed milk, 1 small pot of low-fat yogurt and a matchbox-sized piece of low fat cheese.
You can track of your portions of fruit and veg, and calories, with the Weight Loss Resources food Diary, try it Free.