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How Dairy Products May Affect Weight

In recent years, the dairy industry has promoted a marketing campaign touting the weight-loss benefits of drinking cow’s milk. Claims that suggest drinking milk controls weight are misleading. Long-term studies show no benefits for weight loss by drinking cow’s milk or eating yogurt.

If anything, drinking lots of milk would be expected to promote weight gain in the long run. That’s because fluid cow’s milk is relatively high in calories, especially if it’s low-fat or whole milk instead of skim.

Research on the relationship between beverage consumption and weight control suggests that most people don’t compensate for calories consumed from beverages. For example, if they drink a 200-calorie glass of milk, they don’t necessarily compensate by eating 200 fewer calories elsewhere in their diets. In other words, people who drink caloric beverages consume those calories on top of the calories from everything else they consume during the day. So controlling your weight by drinking milk is a tactic that’s likely to work poorly.

About two-thirds of the fat in dairy products is saturated fat. In particular, hard cheeses (such as cheddar, Swiss, and provolone), ice cream, sour cream, whipped cream, coffee cream, and whole milk are exceptionally high in saturated fat. Premium brands of ice cream are, in general, loaded with saturated fat.

Even so-called low-fat dairy products are high in saturated fat. For example, low-fat or 2-percent milk gets 25 percent of its calories from fat, most of which is saturated fat. That’s too much saturated fat for most people. Skim or 1/2-percent milk are the only forms of cow’s milk recommended in general for people who drink it, including everyone older than 1 year of age.

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