Lose Weight - Grab A Glass
In childhood, we heard it: Drink a glass of milk at every
meal. Now TV commercials are touting the weight-loss
effects of milk and other dairy products. Can dairy
actually keep weight under control? How is that even
Michael Zemel, PhD, director of the Nutrition Institute at
the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, has published
numerous papers on this subject. He outlines his latest
research in the January 2003 Journal of Nutrition, mouse
studies showing the role of calcium in weight gain and fat
Too many people drop dairy from their diets when they try to
lose weight, he says. "They're shooting themselves in the
foot when they do that. Dairy products contain literally
hundreds of compounds that all have a positive effect on
human health and enhance the fat-burning machinery," he
Milk The Why & How
"When we cut dairy products, we send the body a signal, to
make more fat," says Zemel. "When your body is deprived of
calcium, it begins conserving calcium. That mechanism prompts
your body to produce higher levels of a hormone called
calcitriol, and that triggers an increased production of fat
High levels of calcitriol "tell" fat cells to store
themselves in the body, he says. This increase in calcitriol
also "tells" fat cells to expand, he says. "So you're
getting bigger, fatter fat cells. And a lot of big, fat
cells makes for a big, fat person."
Extra calcium in your diet suppresses this hormone, he says.
Your body breaks down more fat, and fat cells become leaner,
trimmer. A high-dairy diet can boost weight loss by about
But wait, there's more. "It turns out that milk, cheese, and
yogurt are much more effective than calcium supplements or
calcium-fortified foods," Zemel says. Why? Dairy products
are a complex collection of compounds. Like phytochemicals
found in fruits and vegetables, there's more than vitamins
and minerals in dairy products. "They are not classically
nutrients, but are recognized as having beneficial effects."
Fat Calories Still Count, But Calcium Will Change Your Body
Dairy isn't a weight-loss miracle, says Zemel. Calories
still count. But even if you don't restrict calories, taking
in more calcium will change your body composition. You're
shifting calories from fat to lean body mass. "On the
scales, you may not see a change. But we've seen a loss of
body fat," he says.
"We need to think of milk as more than a calcium-delivery
vehicle," he says. "It's more than just calcium. It's
high-quality protein, a collection of amino acids that
provides positive effects on skeleton, muscle, and fat."
Zemel's research holds water, says Lara Hassan, MS, a
nutritionist with the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. Indeed,
"studies are showing that high calcium increases fat
oxidation or fat burning, and that results in greater fat
loss, and weight loss if it's a reduced-calorie diet.".
She cites one study in which obese men consumed two cups of
low-fat yogurt a day, and made no other changes in their
diet. They lost an average of 11 pounds over the course of a
Water Heavy Foods Tell Your Brain You're Full
Tomato juice, tomato soup, vegetable soup, water-heavy foods
like these seem to trigger receptors in the stomach that
tell the brain you're sufficiently fed, says Barbara Rolls,
PhD, a professor at Pennsylvania State University and author
of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer
In fact, satiety, that "I'm full" feeling, is the secret
ingredient to weight management. "People don't like to deny
themselves. They feel a sense of failure when they deprive
Broth, soups, and juices, along with whole fruits,
vegetables, and grains, are high in fiber and water content,
and low in fat and calories. "If you have soup before a
meal, it helps control hunger and you eat less," Rolls says.
"Low-calorie soup takes the edge off your hunger." Just be
careful not to eat rich, cream-based soups, they could add
calories to your diet, she says.
When You Add Water Rich Foods, You Add Volume But Few
How it works: Water dilutes the calories in food. You can
then eat more for the same calories. When you add
water-rich blueberries to your breakfast cereal, or
water-rich eggplant to your lasagna, you add food volume
but few calories, Rolls explains.
Grapes have more water content than raisins. For a
100-calorie snack, you can eat more grapes than raisins.
It's just that simple.
Fat Has Less Water Than Any Food
Fat has less water than any food element at 9 calories per
gram, alcohol is next at 7, followed by protein and
carbohydrates each at 4, Rolls says.
Want More Examples?
Consider the difference between chocolate milk and a milk
chocolate bar. A 1 1/2 ounce milk chocolate bar has 230
calories, while an 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk made
with whole milk has 250 calories. For about the same
calories, you get a portion that is five times bigger
than the chocolate bar.
Add more vegetables, and less pasta and fat, to a pasta
dish, and you get more food volume. You see the difference,
and feel satisfied when you eat it, she says.
Obese people eat more low-water foods than normal-weight
people, big portions of meats, full-fat milk and cheese,
fried eggs, high-fat desserts, one study shows. They also
ate few high-water foods like salads, fruits, skim milk.
Psychological satisfaction is powerful, she says. "We're
talking about dietary changes that people can sustain. If
fat content is too low, it doesn't satisfy your hunger. If
you don't enjoy foods, you are not in the long run going to
sustain the eating pattern. That's where people go wrong,
they go too extreme, so they're on the same old dieting
Make The Weight Loss Switch
Rolls' theories are right on
the money, says Hassan. "There's a lot of research to back
this up. Foods with high water content take longer to eat,
and they generally leave people feeling fuller. People feel
better when their plate is full and their stomach is full."
Drink two glasses of water or other non-calorie beverage
before a meal.
At a restaurant, either eat a small salad or broth-based
At home, fill up half the plate with vegetables, one-fourth
with a starch, and one-fourth with protein -- so the
dominant part is vegetables. If you want seconds, veggies
would be the choice.
Before going to a restaurant, eat a high-volume, low-calorie
snack, fat-free milk, a piece of fruit, a cup of light
yogurt. "You won't be famished, so you won't eat a whole
basket of chips or bread."
If you get the evening munchies, drink bouillon, hot tea,
or light cocoa, or have two cups strawberries with light
cool whip. "It's a great dessert and only 100 calories,"
Tea is calorie-free, has less caffeine than coffee, and
is a great source of antioxidants. However, tea won't
do much to help weight loss, Hassan tells WebMD. "Sip
tea to get full, but I would never tell someone it would
The bottom line for weight loss, follow a reduced-calorie,
healthy eating plan, get regular exercise, and do weight
training to increase lean body mass and speed up metabolism,
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