A surprising volume of scientific literature has cropped-up over the last several years that supports a
surprising hypothesis: that dietary calcium, especially milk-source calcium, plays a big role in fat cell metabolism
and bodyfat control. And not just any fat, but specifically trunk fat, which includes the abdominal fat that so many
men struggle with, year after year. (And if you are affected, you know that it gets more difficult, year by year!)
In short, researchers have found that dietary calcium has an anti-fat, anti-obesity effect by suppressing active vitamin
D action in adipocytes (fat cells). This results in increased fat-burning and decreased adipocyte fat synthesis. Very cool.
Dairy calcium (including low-fat milk products) is much more effective than other forms of calcium, which suggests that
there is something in milk that promotes calcium absorption or retention.
The news on this front is getting better and better. Dr Michael Zemel and his group at the University of Tennessee,
Knoxville have just released a study titled "Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects".
("Central" refers to the trunk, or abdomen.) They found that, in subjects on calorie-restricted diets, modest increases
in dietary calcium (in the form of yogurt) dramatically increased fat loss, while helping to preserve lean mass,
relative to controls. Trunk fat loss (mostly abdominal) was increased by 81% in the yogurt calcium group, and the
reduction in waist measurement was an astonishing 700% greater!
There's much more to tell about this, but for now just consider that the well-known fat-zapping and lean-mass-retaining
effect of whey proteins (that you've read about here so often) may very well reflect the action of dairy proteins on
calcium absorption and action. The bottom line for now is: Keep scarfing whey protein, pop some calcium, and stay tuned
for more exciting details on the dairy/calcium/bodyfat connection.
Zemel, MB, et al. Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2005 Jan; 29, 391-397.