Calcium is something we all need in our diets for good health, but while you’re cutting calories to lose weight, there is a risk that you might not be getting enough of this important nutrient.
However, forgetting to include calcium-rich foods in your diet could actually be a bad idea, as many studies have shown that low-fat sources of calcium actually help you to lose more weight!
Here we explain how calcium boosts weight loss and the best sources of calcium to include in your daily diet for the best results.
How Calcium Boosts Weight Loss
Your body uses calcium every day to function properly.
Still, without enough calcium in your diet, your body uses the calcium stored in your bones, meaning that consistently failing to meet your daily calcium requirements could cause health problems such as osteoporosis in the future.
A recent US Surgeon General Report showed that many Americans fail to get the 1000mg recommended daily amount of calcium and that those who cut out dairy from their diet in a bid to lose weight may be getting even less.
In much the same way that your body needs a variety of nutrients, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise to ensure both good health and successful weight loss, your body requires calcium to function at its best.
Although more research is needed, findings into how calcium boosts weight loss show very encouraging results for dieters.
However, the studies which have made these links have specifically focused on the consumption of calcium-rich, low-fat dairy products and long-term weight management, failing to find the same results with calcium supplements or fortified products.
In a study of obese adults, those who consumed a total of 1100mg of calcium within low-fat dairy products per day lost 22% more weight and 61% more body fat than those on a low-dairy diet.
The researchers explained that a high-calcium diet stops the production of calcitriol, a hormone that ‘tells’ the body to generate fat, but also noted that calcium supplements did not produce the same effect.
One study showed that eating a diet that includes the three servings of low-fat dairy recommended per day allowed former dieters actually to eat more calories without regaining lost weight.
The 18-month study analyzed the weight of 103 obese or overweight women after they had lost some weight and found that for every 100 milligrams of calcium eaten per day, a regain of around 3.5lbs was prevented.
Another study, which appeared in The International Journal of Obesity, showed that dairy consumption can help to boost fat loss and increase muscle mass.
The research reviewed 14 randomized controlled clinical trials and found that participants who ate the most dairy while on a calorie-restricted diet lost 1.6lb more in body fat and saw a 1.3lb greater increase in muscle mass compared to participants eating less dairy.
Researchers put this difference down to the calcium, protein, and vitamin D found in dairy products, which your body then uses to convert calories into muscle rather than fat.
So, it would seem that it’s not that calcium boosts weight loss, but rather that dairy provides the ideal combination of these three essential dietary building blocks for your body to maximize fat burn and help with building muscles.
How To Get Your Daily Dairy While Dieting
So, what are the best sources of dairy for you to benefit from this winning combination without consuming too many calories or too much fat?
1. Low Fat Yogurt
Low-fat yogurt is also a great way to get one of your three low-fat dairy portions per day and is perfect for a snack to keep hunger at bay or with fruit for breakfast, so it’s easy to fit into your daily diet too.
While low-fat Greek yogurt boasts 17.3 grams of protein per 6oz serving, low-fat plain yogurt has 9.7 grams within the same amount.
However, plain yogurt contains more calcium with 34% of your daily recommended amount compared to 19% for Greek yogurt, so both have their advantages if you prefer one over the other.
Remember to choose unsweetened yogurt, though. Otherwise, you’ll be undoing all your good work.
2. Nonfat Milk
Non-dairy alternatives like soy milk and almond milk might be growing in popularity, but drinking a glass of nonfat milk with your breakfast is the easiest way to get a serving of calcium and protein to start your day, and many kinds of milk are fortified with vitamin D too.
An 8oz glass of nonfat milk contains 8 grams of protein (around 17% of your daily protein target) and around a third of your daily calcium requirements and all for less than 100 calories!
And, if you’re not quite sold on the taste of nonfat milk, then try it with whole grain cereal, in your oatmeal, or in a smoothie.
3. Nonfat Mozzarella
Nonfat mozzarella is the leader in fat-free, high-calcium foods, as just 100g of this cheese packs 96% of your daily calcium intake, all with zero fat and just 141 calories.
It also contains a whopping 31 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is around 68% of your daily protein target.
Nonfat mozzarella is high in sodium, however, so you would probably be better off limiting yourself to a small sprinkling on top of your pasta for one of your three dairy sources per day.
Other cheeses high in calcium and low in calories are low-fat Swiss cheese and dry red Parmesan, although these are higher in fat and calories.
Choosing the right low-fat, calcium-rich foods is important to help you lose more weight with phentermine; while cheese often packs in the most calcium, it tends to be high in calories, so watch your portions if you include it every now and again.
In addition, your body needs vitamin D to be able to use the calcium you consume, but since few foods contain vitamin D, be sure to take a vitamin D supplement or get 15 minutes of sunlight a day to benefit from how calcium boosts weight loss when consumed in low-fat sources of dairy.
Non-Dairy Calcium Sources
Although the findings which show that calcium boosts weight loss haven’t found this link for non-dairy sources of calcium, calcium is an essential nutrient for a healthy diet.
This mineral helps the body to maintain healthy blood vessels, regulate blood pressure and even prevent insulin resistance, meaning less chance of developing diabetes.
Here are some other foods to make sure you’re hitting your 1000mg per day:
With 191mg per cup, these legumes are high in calcium, packed in iron, and are an affordable and healthy option to add to pasta, soups, and stews.
You’ll find around 320mg of calcium in seven sardine fillets, plus they contain healthy fats to boost weight loss and vitamin D too! Add them to a Greek salad for a tasty lunch option.
Eight whole dried figs provide around 107mg of calcium, plus they’re full of fiber and antioxidants. Eat them as a snack or use them as an alternative to sugar and sweeteners in baking.
Two cups of this leafy green provides around 188mg of calcium, but remember to choose organic and lightly steam your kale before eating it, as eaten raw, kale can disrupt thyroid functioning.
A handful of about 20 almonds contains around 72mg of calcium as well as protein and a whole load of other nutrients too, including potassium, vitamin E, and iron.
Eat them as a snack, or make your own almond butter for a nutrient-dense way to top your whole-grain toast!
One medium orange contains around 65mg of calcium, as well as vitamin C and fiber; plus, swapping your morning juice for oranges will save 100 calories too!
Sesame seeds aren’t just for topping burger buns – these tasty seeds pack in 88mg of calcium per tablespoon!
What’s more, they have been shown to help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and even fight against certain cancers – sprinkle some sesame seeds on your salad for some added texture and crunch.
The findings that show how calcium boosts weight loss indicate that a varied diet full of a whole range of nutrients is the best way to ensure both good health and optimum weight loss results.
But, if you’re finding it difficult to keep to a healthier way of eating, then adding Phen Caps can really keep your hunger and cravings under control, meaning that healthy eating and weight loss are all the more achievable!
Around 80% of women in the US don’t get enough calcium – are you one of this group? And do you do dairy, or do you prefer alternatives? Let us know by commenting below!