If you've given up dairy products because you think they're fattening, think again. New research suggests that foods such as milk, yogurt and other dairy sources of calcium may actually help you lose weight.
"When you're on a low-calorie diet, the body's natural drive is to be more efficient and conserve fat," explains Michael Zemel, professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Tennessee. When you add calcium to a low-calorie diet, your body releases a hormone that affects fat cells and increases your body's ability to break down fat, he says. Calorie counting is still important, but dietary calcium can help your body decide if those calories will be stored as fat or burned.
The level of calcium that appears to be effective is 1,200 to 1,600 milligrams a day, and research suggests that food sources – not supplements – are best. Zemel adds that a high-calcium diet is also important for weight maintenance and prevention of obesity.
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