What are your thoughts on the belief that high calcium intakes help with weight loss?
– Flor (last name withheld)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Since the public loves the idea of magic bullets and fat-burning foods, the notion that a little extra calcium in the diet results in more effective weight loss really struck a nerve.
A few years ago, the dairy industry began advertising the claim that three glasses of skim or low-fat milk a day were more than just a good source of calcium — they also helped with weight management.
The vast majority of clinical trials looking at calcium and weight loss fail to demonstrate a link between high intakes of the mineral and higher rates of weight loss.
Notice that even the “calcium helps you lose weight” campaign ultimately came down to calories. After all, consumers were encouraged to drink low-fat or skim milk, not whole.
If calcium in and of itself were a miraculous fat burner, it technically wouldn’t matter if the product containing it were fat-free or not.
I encourage everyone to always be suspicious of specific foods or nutrients marketed as “fat burning,” and instead keep in mind that weight management is more about general dietary patterns.
Drinking six cups of green tea a day isn’t going to do much in terms of weight loss if your total caloric intake is 1,000 calories higher than it should be.
Similarly, chugging down a glass of skim milk along with a 450 calorie muffin isn’t going to produce any amazing results.