You may have heard the phrase, “calcium builds strong bones and teeth.” But did you also know that it is weight loss friendly?
There has been a great amount of research into the difference dietary calcium plays in weight loss outcomes. While the exact mechanisms are not known, it is fairly clear that including calcium in your daily meal plan can help you shed excess weight and keep it off. Let’s take a look at some of the studies:
- A study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that higher calcium and vitamin D intake at breakfast increases metabolism in a 24-hour period.
- A study from the University of Colorado found that higher calcium intake was associated with more calories burned and a higher rate of fat metabolism.
- A study from Purdue University found that lower calcium levels led to a three-to six-fold increase in cortisol production. Cortisol, more commonly known as the “stress hormone” increases fat storage in the abdominal area. It is well known that belly fat poses serious health risks, especially to heart health. Scientists believe that calcium plays a role in interfering with cortisol production.
We could go on with the research, but they will all point to the same conclusion: if you are serious about losing weight, then it is wise to make calcium consumption a priority. But calcium comes in many forms. What does the research say about what is best?
Before addressing the most effective sources of dietary calcium for weight loss, let’s first talk about the value of calcium supplements. Studies have show that while calcium supplements may provide bone-strengthening benefits, there is no evidence that they offer support for weight loss.
The research referenced above included consumption of calcium via dairy products, such as milk and cheese.. A study from the University of Tennessee found that high-dairy eaters were able to lose significantly more weight than low-dairy eaters. Why? One hypothesis is that that dairy products provide the feelings of fullness that lead to a decrease in overall calorie consumption. In fact, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people drinking a glass of skim milk at breakfast ate over eight percent fewer calories and reported feeling fuller longer than those drinking fruit drinks.
While the research does point to dairy products’ valuable impact on weight loss, it is very important to note that many of them also come with a high calorie count. When selecting your dairy, either opt for the low-fat variety, or seriously watch your portions. You don’t want to defeat the weight loss benefits of dairy by eating too much of it!
Also, remember to get your daily-recommended dose of Vitamin D, which most people are actually deficient in. Vitamin D is extremely critical to the proper absorption of calcium, so either spend some time in the sun (which naturally produces Vitamin D), take a supplement, or choose dairy products fortified with Vitamin D.
Increasing calcium intake is just one of the small ways you can boost your weight loss efforts. The added bonus is strong teeth for that bright smile you’ll have trouble hiding when you step on the scale!