New research published in the December American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound that women burned more fat and more calories after a meal when their diets included three to four servings of dairy per day. 

The purpose of the study was to investigate the mechanism by which dairy and calcium may impact body composition through the body’s ability to burn fat and use calories. It was not designed to induce weight loss.

During the year-long study, researchers at Purdue University compared the effects of a prolonged low-dairy diet (one to two servings per day) to a prolonged high-dairy diet (three to four servings per day) among 19 normal-weight women between 18 and 30 years of age. 

Researchers measured the study participants’ ability to burn fat and calories after a meal at the beginning and end of the trial to determine the impact of increasing dairy and calcium consumption during the one-year trial. They found that women who consumed three servings of dairy each day over the course of a year burned more fat and calories from a meal than women who fell short of the government recommendation of three servings of dairy per day.  

“From the results of this study, we put together a rough calculation based on the increased fat burned from a meal that suggests a high dairy diet followed over a year could potentially result in the loss of 10 pounds of fat a year,” commented Dorothy Teegarden, lead investigator and professor of nutrition at PurdueUniversity

Results from this study add further support to the body of research on dairy’s role in weight management, providing insight into the mechanism of fat metabolism. Increased calcium decreases parathyroid hormone (PTH). Teegarden discovered that the decreased PTH that occurs with increased dairy consumption increases fat burning. This discovery builds on other research that demonstrates the role of calcium-regulating hormones as potential mediators of the relationship between an increase in dietary calcium and greater fat burning.

For more information on the nutritional benefits of dairy foods, visit

National Dairy Council