Revealed: The food group that burns fat

by Scott Rosenfield

Skip the cookies, but chug the milk. According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, an increased dairy intake can help you lose more weight.

Researchers reviewed 14 randomized controlled clinical trials—the gold standard of studies—that examined the link between weight, body fat mass, and dairy consumption. The results: People who ate the most dairy while on a calorie-restricted diet had a 1.6-pound greater reduction in fat mass and a 1.3-pound increase in muscle mass compared to people taking in lower levels of dairy. But the researchers found that increasing dairy consumption when you’re not on a calorie-restricted diet does not affect weight loss.

What’s going on? Researchers believe that the calcium, vitamin D, and protein found in dairy productshelp you lose fat by “supporting the preferential deposition of calories into muscle rather than fat,” says David L. Katz, MD, Prevention nutrition adviser and an associate professor of public health at Yale University. (Trying to lose weight? Find out Which Foods Not To Ditch.)

Here’s how: Calcium found in milk decreases the level of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3—a vitamin that spurs the growth of fat cells—in your body, helping to accelerate the effects of weight loss, according to a recent study in Obesity Research. Eating lots of dairy helps slow down the growth of fat cells, but only when combined with a weight-loss diet are the effects powerful enough to make a noticeable difference, says Katz.

Your move: Keep eating dairy—especially the high-protein kind—and replace your morning OJ with a glass of skim milk. People who drank a glass of skim milk with breakfast ate 8.5 percent fewer calories and reported feeling fuller than those who had a fruit drink, according to a study in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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