Around 3 servings of yoghurt each day can double weight loss, research finds.
People in the study who ate yoghurt lost twice as much body fat as those that did not.
Yoghurt is rich in calcium, which is thought to aid weight loss.
Calcium signals the body to start burning fat and stop storing it.
Dieters taking calcium lost 81 percent more belly fat.
Belly fat is particularly dangerous, with strong links to heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
Professor Michael Zemel, the study’s first author, said:
“Not only did yogurt help the study participants lose more weight–the average weight loss was 13 pounds–they were about twice as effective at maintaining lean muscle mass.
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.”
The study included 34 obese people who were all put on a calorie-restricted diet.
Their diet was restricted by 500 calories each day.
Half of them were given 500mg of calcium per day as a supplement, while the other group were given 1,100mg plus three servings of low-fat yoghurt.
The results showed that those taking the higher dose of calcium lost 22 percent more weight, 61 percent more body fat and 81 percent more belly fat.
Professor Zemel said:
“The moral of the calcium story is to not dump dairy when you’re dieting.
Not only is it critical to keep your calcium levels high so you won’t lose bone density, it will also help you maintain your muscle mass and increase your fat loss.
A diet rich in low fat dairy foods, like yogurt, can help make your weight loss efforts easier.”
The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity (Zemel et al., 2005).