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Weight Loss: To Milk or Not to Milk?


Once again, holiday indulgence has led to millions of New Year’s resolutions and the urgent pursuit of the perfect diet. Most individuals have confidence in the weight loss powers of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains, but what about the more controversial food group, dairy?

The National Dairy Council gave high-calcium, low-fat selections their strongest vote. Swedish researchers propose whole milk if anything. While everyday people tell their slimming successes of no milk on informational websites like Dieters’ heads are spinning as they wonder should I drink skim milk, whole milk, or no milk? Is there even a weight connection?

In 2005, the National Dairy Council launched their “3-A-Day™ of Dairy healthful eating plan” recommending three servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt per day. Their research suggested that a reduced calorie diet combined with 3 or more servings of dairy per day led to more weight loss than a reduced calorie diet combined with a low or no-dairy diet. The primary theory circulating behind their results indicated calcium as an aid to fat regulation.

Fast forward to 2007, when a sizable study out of Sweden has suggested that those who consume at least one serving of whole milk foods per day put on less weight than those who did not. The success was somewhat limited though, as these positive results were only seen in those who were considered normal weight at the beginning of the study. In addition, a more telling discovery was made: no positive weight effects were linked to low-fat milk consumption. Yet another major study, casting doubt on the calcium-weight loss connection.

Then, there is the real world, away from industry funding and laboratory controls. Sandy Clifton, of out of Denver Colorado, was consuming two glasses of whole milk per day; that is until she discovered her severe lactose intolerance in late 2006. Rather than downing bottles of Lactaid (a sponsor of the 3-A-Day™ Dairy plan), Sandy opted to take on a dairy-free diet. Within one and a half months she unexpectedly lost 15 pounds, and easily traded in her size 14 jeans for a size 10. According to Sandy, “I haven’t had dairy since I found out I was lactose intolerant…Since I stopped eating those items the weight has been coming off naturally.”

Milk or no milk, most doctors and health organizations concur that calorie consumption has the most direct link to weight of any indicators found thus far. In terms of specific foods, it is becoming ever apparent that the theory of one miracle superfood has more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese. Perhaps as Sandy discovered, our own bodies are the best indicator.

References: “Full-fat dairy products linked to lower weight” by Amy Norton, Reuters online; “3-A-Day ™ of Dairy” by Dairy Management Inc.


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