Milking It – Why you really need dairy when watching your weight

Do you skip out on dairy foods because you think they’re fattening? Or do you only ever eat skim products? Well, it’s time for a milk, yoghurt and cheese shake up. Research shows dairy foods may, in fact, be a slimming ally. (1,2) And that, yes, you really can work that delicious cheese into your healthy eating plan.

Busting myths

dairyA growing body of evidence is quashing the myth that you have to skip dairy foods to keep a healthy weight. A recent scientific review published in the 2012 International Journal of Obesity found that including dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt in a weight loss diet may help accelerate fat loss, especially metabolically harmful belly fat linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (1)

In addition, a recent systematic review published in Obesity Review indicates the consumption of dairy foods in moderation has no harmful effect on weight and that low-fat dairy products were not associated with better weight status than regular-fat dairy products. (2) However, more research is needed before conclusive statements can be made.

White magic?

It’s not entirely clear how dairy foods and dairy protein powders work their reported ‘weight loss magic’. You of course still need to strike the right balance for weight loss success with a healthy eating plan and regular exercise.  But if you absolutely love full fat, Greek yoghurt, you should be able to factor it into your day, without the guilt.

We do know that dairy foods tend to have a low glycemic index, plus high protein content and are therefore high on satiety or the filling factor, to help control your appetite.  Plus high-quality proteins in dairy foods along with the right exercise helps preserve lean muscle as you age.  This, in turn, helps maintain your metabolic rate and keeps you stronger for longer.

Best bet approach

pexels-photo-306801If you’re watching your weight, skim and reduced-fat products are excellent daily choices as they save on kilojoules, and still provide protein, calcium, zinc, phosphorous and other essentials. Go for trim lattes and skim or reduced fat milk at breakfast.

Just remember, at times it pays to invest in the real deal and enjoy a full-fat product like a dollop of Greek yoghurt in soup or cubes of cheese on a healthy pita pizza. You may find you are satisfied with a smaller portion of the full-fat version, saving you kilojoules in the long run.


Making change takes time and effort, so you need to know that it’s going to be worth it.

1. Abargouei, E.S. et, al. (2012) Effect of dairy consumption on weight and body composition in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled clinical trials. International Journal of Obesity (2012) 1-9.

2. Louie, JC. et, al.(2011) Dairy consumption and overweight and obesity: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies. Obes Rev.12(7):e582-92.