Milk for weight loss & lean mass gain

I stumbled across this news story about the benefits of drinking milk while trying to increase lean mass and reduce body fat.  There have been numerous studies done into the effectiveness of using either calcium or dairy for both lean mass gain and body fat loss.  I'm a huge believer in both concepts.

sourced from

Female athletes looking to increase lean muscle and decrease fat mass may want to add milk to their training program.

A recent study by researchers at McMasters University in Canada suggests that milk supports favourable body composition changes in women undertaking resistance training.

The authors of the study concluded that after 12 weeks, women consuming milk as opposed to sports drink in the early post-exercise period following resistance training gained lean muscle and strength as well as losing fat.

The researchers investigated whether women consuming skim milk versus a carbohydrate drink such as readily available sports drinks with an equal number of calories would gain lean muscle mass and lose fat mass after resistance exercise.

The young women drank either skim milk or a carbohydrate drink immediately after exercise and then an hour later. They exercised five days a week for 12 weeks and changes in their body composition were measured.

Lean muscle mass increased in both those drinking milk and carbohydrate but with a greater gain in those drinking milk, and fat mass was decreased in the milk drinkers only.

Until now, most research on the benefit of milk to athletes focused on men. The scientists wanted to find out whether milk offered the same benefits to female athletes as it does to male ones.

Glenys Zucco, Dietitian at Dairy Australia said, "This study is very positive for female athletes trying to enhance their performance or body composition. Most studies regarding sports nutrition are conducted in men and this shows how the same benefits of consuming milk can be applied to women."

Source: Dairy Australia

Now, of course we have to be savvy as Dairy Australia is promoting this, and quite clearly aren't going to present information which doesn't support the consumption of milk.

Here is an article I posted on  a while ago on GoFigure

Question: I've been told to cut out dairy like milk and yoghurt out of my diet if I want to lose weight. But I saw a documentary a while ago where the group that kept yoghurt in their diet actually lost more weight. Any thoughts? 

Answer: Yes, media can make these things very confusing. There is no need to take dairy out of your diet unless you suffer digestive upsets from it, in fact the small amount of fat in blue milk won't totally affect your weight loss efforts either if you're following a plan which puts your body into a calorie deficit. To ensure you're in a calorie deficit it is advised to seek the help of someone who can analyse your food and exercise diary to make sure that the calories going in are less than calories going out.

There is a debate over whether dairy and/or calcium can assist in weight loss and there has been much research done on the subject. A large handful of studies conclude that a calorie controlled diet which includes dairy products will have a useful effect on weight loss, in particular body fat loss while maintaining lean mass. However, many of these studies were undertaken by researchers who were funded by the National Dairy Council in America. Milk sales in the United States had suffered a massive slump and in 1993 the ‘Got Milk?' campaign began which increased milk consumption. It is suggested that this funded research was to help support future milk sales by promoting its weight loss effects. I personally accept with the results of many of the studies regardless of their funding source.

There are also studies which show no effect on weight with regards to dairy and calcium consumption. One such study was conducted over a 12 year period and the chances of these participants following the same calorie intake for 12 years is unlikely, in addition metabolic rates would have slowed over this 12 year period. It seems unlikely that the results of this study have any relevance.

On a personal note, I do prescribe to the theory that replacing some of our carbohydrate calories particularly bread and refined grains with milk MIGHT be beneficial to body fat loss in conjunction with exercise. They key point here, is to replace foods with dairy, not eating dairy as well as your normal weight loss calorie intake. The best dairy source would be natural yoghurt, but milk and low fat cottage cheese are also good choices. Obviously, dairy items like cheese and icecream should be kept at a minimum, and for troublesome weight loss, they should be avoided completely. Some examples could be to change tuna and crackers to a low carb protein shake mixed with milk or to have fruit and yoghurt for breakfast instead of toast.

Dairy is a dead food by the way, and in general, I have found many clients benefit from taking dairy out of their diets due to the inflammatory effects on the body. 

And we haven't even touched on whether drinking another animals lactation is good for us or not...that's a whole other area of debate. Dairy is by no means a magic bullet, losing weight effectively is a complete journey and requires the basics of getting the body healthy.


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