Eat More Calcium and Lose More Weight
It seems like every week a new diet fad is coming out that promises to "take off the pounds". Of course, it often happens that these same diets do not work in the long term, are impossible to tolerate, or are actually dangerous to your health. No matter what any pseudo-researcher or weight loss guru says, the true secret to weight loss always comes down to eating a well balanced diet with fewer total calories than you burn.
Studies indicate that by increasing the amount of calcium in your well-balanced,
low calorie diet you may be able to lose weight more quickly.
So how does this work, what is the proof, and what are the specific guidelines? Scientists doing research on human fat cells have shown that a diet high in calcium results in an increase in the rate of fat burning and a decrease in the amount of fat formation. These researchers concluded that for any given level of energy intake and expenditure, low calcium diet favors increased adipose tissue energy storage, but the converse was true for higher calcium diets. Accordingly, dietary calcium appears to modulate the efficiency of energy utilization, with low calcium diets favoring increased efficiency of energy storage
and higher calcium diets reducing energy efficiency and instead favoring increased fat burning. In support of these findings is a randomized clinical trial demonstrating a markedly greater weight loss (7.0 vs. 1.7 kg) in patients who maintained on a milk-based diet for 16 weeks vs. those who maintained on a conventional hypocaloric diet at the same level of energy intake.
Now it's time to put this research into practical terms. If I am trying to counsel patients to lose weight, I advise them to adopt a low-calorie diet that they can stick with. Then I suggest increasing their calcium intake by at least 1000 mg per day. The current recommendation is for adult men to consume 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg of calcium per day and adult women to consume 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg daily. Thus, they should increase their intake above this by 1000 mg. It is important that this increase come in the form of dairy products as calcium from supplements does not appear to be as effective. (There appears to be something in the dairy product that helps with absorption). For example, one could increase overall calcium intake by 1000 mg by drinking two additional cups of milk per day and enjoying one yogurt (1.5 cups).
At the end of the day, it still comes down to a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise program, but if you want to lose weight, improve health, and eat some good food while doing it...eat more CALCIUM! Start by incorporating some of these foods:
- Non-fat Milk 1 cup, 300 mg calcium
- Reduced Fat Milk 1 cup, 300 mg calcium
- Nonfat Yogurt 1 cup, 490 mg calcium
- Swiss Cheese 1 oz., 270 mg calcium
- Ice Cream, Light 1/2 cup, 200 mg
- American Cheese 1 oz., 140 mg calcium
- Cottage Cheese 1 cup, 160 mg calcium
- Black Beans 1 cup, 120 mg calcium
- Navy Beans 1 cup, 130 mg calcium
- Fortified Cereal 1 cup, 300 mg calcium
- Mozzarella, Part Skim 1 oz., 210 mg calcium
- Regulation of adiposity by dietary calcium. FASEB J. 14. 1132-1138 (2000).
- Zemel, M. B., Kim, J. H., Zemel, M. B., Moore, W., Woychik, R. P., Moustaid, N., and
Wilkison, W. O. (1995) Agouti gene product regulation of intracellular free calcium results
in stimulation of fatty acid synthase. Obesity Res. 3, 338s (abstr.)
- Summerbell, C. D., Watts, C., Higgins, J. P. T., and Garrow, J. S. (1998) Randomized
controlled trial of novel, simple, and well supervised weight reducing diets in outpatients.
Br. Med. J. 317, 487-489
- Bone Builders Website: http://ag.arizona.edu/maricopa/fcs/bb/index.htm
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"Eat More Calcium and Lose More Weight"
Dr. Grief is a graduate of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He is a past Residency Program Director of the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Family Medicine, and former radio health show host in New Hampshire. Dr. Grief's main inter...