Dieting with Dairy: Dairy Linked to Weight Management

Looking to lose weight? Just looking to avoid gaining any? Then don’t skip the milk – even if you’re worried about calories.

Calories Aren’t the Enemy

Truth is, calories aren’t evil; calories are simply units of energy, and most of us need about 2,000 of them every day.

The Real Calorie Problem

For most of us, it is eating more calories than we burn. When we aren’t paying attention to our internal cues that help us know when to eat and when to stop eating, overeating is easy to do.

The Key to a Healthy Weight

The secret to finding and keeping the size right for you isn’t just about counting calories; it’s getting your calories from foods that are packed with nutrients. Like – you guessed it – dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Focus on MyPlate to get all the nutrients you need.

But let's focus on dairy. Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt provide a unique package of essential nutrients, including protein and calcium, that may play important roles in healthy weight management. It is recommended that Americans enjoy 3 daily servings of dairy as part of a nutrient-rich and balanced eating plan.  

  • Just one glass of milk has 8 grams of high-quality protein. Eating high quality protein throughout the day, like that in your favorite dairy foods, keeps you fuller longer and helps to maintain muscles even when you are losing fat. A 2017 scientific review found that consuming more than 2 cups of dairy foods a day significantly increases satiety (the feeling of fullness).
  • And those 300 mg of calcium per cup do more than just build strong bones. Some studies indicate that, while calcium alone won’t help you lose weight, when you get calcium in whole foods like low-fat dairy products it may.*

The Takeaway:

Don’t be afraid of the calories in dairy – those calories are nutrient rich! Three servings of low-fat dairy every day can help you keep and maintain a healthy weight and get more of the nutrients you need. Learn to cut through the diet fad clutter and find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you to help in your weight management journey. Explore more about the health benefits of dairy and make our favorite recipes

By Katie McKee, MCN, RDN, LD

Katie has always loved teaching others about the power of nutrition. She has a background in journalism as a reporter, writer and editor and has been part of the Dairy MAX team since 2015. When she's not working, Katie enjoys cooking and spending time with her young son and family. Learn more about Katie

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