A daily dose of yogurt is good for people of all ages. Yogurt is also important for those wanting to lose weight. As a milk product, yogurt is naturally rich in calcium. Research shows that calcium helps reduce weight gain. Even small changes in the calcium levels of fat cells can change signals within the cell that control the making and burning of fat.
The authors of a 2003 study at the University of Tennessee placed 34 obese people on a low-calorie diet. Sixteen of them were given 400 to 500mg of calcium in the form of a daily supplement. The other 18 people ate a diet higher in calcium— 1,100mg per day—in the form of yogurt. After 12 weeks, both groups lost fat. The supplement-taking group had 6 pounds less fat, but the yogurt group lost about 10 pounds of fat. And, those who ate yogurt discovered that their waists shrank by more than an inch and a half. In comparison, the supplement-taking subjects lost only about a quarter of an inch in waist size. Finally, a whopping 60 percent of the yogurt eaters' weight loss was belly fat, while only 26 percent of the supplement group's loss was belly fat.
This is very exciting news as belly fat—which doctors call visceral or intra-abdominal fat—is linked to high cholesterol, high insulin, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and other problems. Visceral fat may also secrete more disease-linked inflammatory molecules than other types of fat.
The study also reported that in addition to helping the participants lose more weight, the group that ate yogurt was about twice as effective at maintaining lean muscle mass. As the study director, Michael Zemel, PhD, stated in a news release, "This is a critical issue when dieting. You want to lose fat, not muscle. Muscle helps burn calories, but it is often compromised during weight loss." I couldn't agree more!
Always buy organic yogurt and avoid yogurt that contains thickeners and stabilizers. Also avoid yogurt that contains added sugars or sweetened fruit, as these upset the delicate chemical balance that allow the cultures to thrive. Sugars also feed the growth on unwanted yeasts, such as Candida albicans.
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