DAIRY – Is it GOOD or BAD for Weight Loss?

Question:  There are so many confusing statements out there.  Is Dairy going to help lose weight or is it better to stop having it?   Pam, Los Angeles


Great question Pam.  I hear this type of question from time to time –  should I eliminate this or that food group.  This time it happens to be about dairy.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with the caveat that I’m not a registered dietician nor am I a physician.  These are the professionals specifically qualified to be answering diet-related questions when it comes to your situation and I am able to refer clients to people I trust in those fields if you’d like.  I am someone who has read a lot about health and fitness who is able to read a scientific study with an eye for bias and someone who has tried to fine-tune her own diet and fitness plan for optimal results.  I’m a certified fitness instructor so this is more of a personal than a professional opinion.  That said, these are my thoughts:

I’m just not an all-or-nothing type gal when it comes to dairy and weight loss.  If you want to go cold-turkey on something for the sake of your health, I’d pick soda (diet & regular) or trans-fats and luncheon meats with nitrates!…but dairy?

I go organic (got enough hormones already thanks), low fat (for the calorie count and fat ratio to the rest of my diet mostly) whenever possible and figure it into your calorie allowance.  If you are struggling with a cholesterol issue and your doctor has recommended to limit your consumption of animal proteins, surely listen to his/her advice.  Also if you’re lactose intolerant or vegetarian for ethical reasons, there are many non-dairy alternatives you could choose…

That said, nothing I have read indicates there’s something about dairy which leads to weight gain or retention specifically.  In fact quite the opposite is true.  There have been a few studies which show eating yogurt is good for weight loss.   F0r instance, a Harvard Study published in 2011, showed positive results for weight loss by those who ate yogurt as opposed to those who don’t.  Another, in 2005,  showed the same, but the study was funded by General Mills, makers of Yoplait.   Those are off the top of my head and there have been many more.

That’s not to say I’d go ahead and eat 1200 calories per day of hard cheese…but consumed as part of your diet which is based on fruits and veggies and complex carbs/fiber, I don’t see an issue.

Everything I have studied indicates eating clean and working out with the right cardio and weight training balance and burning off 3500-7000 calories per week through diet and exercise is what makes you lose weight in a healthy safe way.

I’m just not up for the “eggs good for you/bad for you” saga.  I don’t see how you can go wrong with healthy, real food.


2 thoughts on “DAIRY – Is it GOOD or BAD for Weight Loss?”

  1. Kayla is right in saying that there are very few things one should go cold turkey on. As a registered dietitian, I counsel my patients on what are appropriate amounts to consume of various foods, tailored to the individual. As far as I know, the only scientific studies that link dairy with weight gain are ones that looked at high fat dairy (specifically whole milk, which is about 4% fat). On the contrary, there is evidence that consuming low fat cheese and yogurt helps people lose weight.
    There are legitimate reasons why someone may be forced to avoid dairy, namely a true dairy allergy or severe lactose intolerance. In this case, it is important to seek other sources of dietary calcium that also contain vitamin D, such as several fortified dairy alternative drinks made of soy, almonds, or rice. A medical doctor should always be consulted before eliminating an entire category of food, especially in children. Even if one must avoid a particular food for health reasons, there may be nutrients he/she is at risk of losing if an alternative source is not provided.

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