Obese and overweight women who went on an exercise regimen lost more belly fat when they accompanied that exercise with a high protein/high dairy diet.

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada reported the findings in this month's issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

Ninety women who were overweight and low dairy consumers were selected to participate in the study. When the study commenced, they were placed into one of three groups: high protein/high dairy, adequate protein/adequate dairy and adequate protein/low dairy.

After 16 weeks of exercise, the women lost similar amounts of body weight and body fat, regardless of which group they were in. But those in the high protein /high dairy group lost more abdominal fat than those in the adequate protein/low dairy group.

“We know that regular exercise and calorie restriction is important for any weight-loss plan, but this study confirms that higher intakes of protein and dairy foods can improve the quality of that weight loss,” says Greg Miller, executive vice president of research, regulatory and scientific affairs at Dairy Management Inc. and the National Dairy Council.

To read the study abstract, click here.