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Calcium and weight loss

01:00am, 23/07/13

yoghurt and strawberryI had a plan for this post today, but now I find that I want to write something as a reaction to something I saw on television the other day. It was part of a programme called “Britain’s Favourite Supermarket Foods”, which I gather has something to do with what people buy in supermarkets.

The item they put forward at the end of the programme was to do with dairy products in connection with weight-loss, and so of course I stopped to watch! There were four attractive but rather large young brides-to-be who all wanted to slim down for their Big Day – as one does. The “expert” was a woman working with a team of researchers into weight-loss, but I have to wonder whether she was the right choice for the programme! Would you take the advice about weight-loss from someone who, however well qualified and smartly turned out, was more than a little over-weight herself? I don’t think I would, any more than, if I were a smoker, I would take advice about giving up from a doctor who sat in front of me with a cigarette in his fingers!

The main push of the presentation was yoghurt. It had to be low-fat of course. I am honestly of the opinion that these research teams are too worried about their funding to look beyond “low-fat”. There is too much vested interest and big industry surrounding low-fat foods, and I don’t really blame people wanting to keep their jobs. But there is such a growing body of evidence that this low-fat scenario is not helping the situation that I am sure we need to take a step back and start again. There is so much evidence now that sugar is the root of all evil in the modern diet, and yet the low-fat yoghurt put forward on this programme as a key ingredient in weight-loss is laced with sugar to make it palatable. They even showed fruit and sugar being added to the pots of yoghurt – fruit at least containing natural sugars but not, in my experience, conducive to losing weight.

These four young brides-to-be were all put on the same 1,500 calories a day diet. It didn’t specify exactly the type of diet, but I am assuming that it was some sort of low-fat regime given the recommendation that only low-fat yoghurt should be eaten as part of the diet. Not all the young ladies got to have the yoghurt – the whole idea was to see whether the yoghurt made a difference, so two got it and two didn’t.

Well – here was a big problem right at the start. Two of these lassies were really quite large and two were not so big, but they were all expected to eat the same diet, irrespective of their size or levels of activity. Almost inevitably, the two larger were starving and suffering from a serious lack of energy which meant that they couldn’t take the required exercise, so they both gave up. This was not their fault, their size should have been taken into account and they should have been allowed a few more calories – in other words, treated as individuals. As you lose weight, your need for food declines naturally, so given a a bit more food to start them off, these two would have been able to keep going and over time would have been eating a lot less than the number of calories they were eating at the beginning of the diet. Properly worked out, that wouldn’t have made a difference to the test. (There is a bit on this subject, with some advice, in my book.) Poor souls – the programme seemed designed to make them fail!

The other two had both lost some weight over the 10 weeks of the experiment, but not much. The one who had the yoghurt had lost slightly less than the one who didn’t, but this was a bit glossed over. They explained that the scans showed that yoghurt eater had lost more body fat – as opposed to…? They had both lost weight at around a pound a week – which I would reckon to be somewhat slow. My system allowed me to lose weight faster than that without feeling deprived or hungry, but at a rate moderate enough that I have not put any back on – in fact, I have lost more weight since publishing my book.

The whole thing about yoghurt in weight-loss is to do with calcium, and there is good evidence that calcium does indeed help with weight-loss – nothing new in that, it has been known for some time. According to what I have found out, calcium resides more in the whey of milk rather than the solids, so full fat milk doesn’t have as much as skimmed milk. I also have gathered from what I have read that the difference in the calcium levels between skimmed milk and whole milk are rather marginal, and I think the dangers of the sugar and excess fruit which low-fat yoghurt needs to make it tasty would out-weigh the benefits of a wee bit extra calcium, and some.

Goats’ and sheep’s milk are higher in calcium than cows’ – possibly why my sons have excellent teeth having been brought up on goats’ milk. Personally, I am going to stick to my goats’ milk for my calcium intake, although I do eat yoghurt from time to time – it has to be full fat for me though! Of course, there are quite a few other ways of getting added calcium, all of which are easy to find out about on the net…