Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that when obese adults follow a reduced-calorie diet with moderate exercise they can still lose weight and decrease body fat while eating four servings of dairy each day. The new study was published in the August issue of Obesity Research.

This new randomized clinical trial compared the weight-loss results of 72 obese adults following three different reduced-calorie diets: 

  • A "high-dairy" diet that included four servings of dairy foods (milk, yogurt or cheese) each day.
  • A "high-dairy/high fiber/low glycemic index" diet that included four servings of dairy each day.
  • A "moderate-dairy" or standard diet that included two servings of dairy foods each day.

After 48 weeks, the participants in all three groups experienced significant weight loss and body fat loss -- providing further evidence that dieters don't need to cut dairy from their diet to lose weight successfully.

While all groups lost similar amounts of weight and body fat, the participants in the high-dairy groups who most closely followed the prescribed diet and exercise plan also consumed four daily servings of dairy and about 100 to 150 more calories each day.  Even with the higher calorie intake, they still lost the same amount of weight as the dieters who consumed just two servings of dairy a day and fewer calories.

Previously published clinical trials have found that overweight and obese adults who consumed three servings of dairy each day were able to lose twice as much weight and fat as those on low-dairy diets (1 serving or less), when the groups had similar reductions in calories.  Additionally, numerous population-based studies have shown a connection between a diet adequate in calcium and lower body weight.

"These new findings are important to help us gain further information about the dairy/weight loss connection, which has been reported in several clinical studies," said co-author Michael Zemel, professor of nutrition and director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee. "On the whole, research shows that when comparing groups that have similar calorie reduction, those who consume adequate dairy see better results than those who don't."

   National Dairy Council, PRNewswire