Friday, January 25, 2008

Maybe all the ads were right all along....

Keen Cuisine: The Human Kindness of Milk
Even researchers couldn't believe the power of milk to dissolve fat while building muscle.
Imagine a food that speeds the loss of fat from the body—particularly the stubborn belly fat linked to heart disease and diabetes—while it pumps up muscle. You probably already know such a food but don't consume as much of it as you once did. It's milk, notably the reduced-fat variety. The double effect of fat loss and muscle gain from milk is so pronounced that it transforms bodies, especially those of women.

Michael Zemel, director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee, was skeptical when a group of people he treated for high blood pressure with calcium supplements also wound up losing 11 pounds each in a year, without dieting. "It was too big to be luck," he recalls.

He first thought it was exclusively a calcium effect. When he repeated the study with milk, "the difference between calcium and milk was astounding."

In randomized studies of overweight people fed a calorie-restricted diet for 24 weeks, those given a low-dose calcium supplement lost 6.4 percent of their body weight. A high-calcium-supplement group lost 7.7 percent. Those fed the equivalent amount of calcium in dairy foods, however, lost 10.9 percent of their body weight; two-thirds of the loss was in the abdomen.

"Dairy had a very unexpected effect in targeting fat around the body's midsection," Zemel observes. "You don't expect spot reduction from a diet."

When the body isn't getting enough calcium, Zemel discovered, it releases the hormone calcitriol, which constricts blood vessels. It also acts as a metabolic switch in fat cells, signaling cells to hold on to fat and make more (from sugar). High calcium levels, however, suppress calcitriol.

Milk and yogurt additionally contain whey. Rich in the amino acid leucine, whey stimulates the building of muscle, which acts as a furnace for burning fat. It also contains peptides that uniquely suppress fat synthesis. In his most recent studies, Zemel has found that milk also acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

At Canada's McMaster University, Stuart M. Phillips has found that fat-free milk boosts the ability of exercise training to build muscle and burn fat even as the exercisers consume extra calories. "The magnitude of the loss is surprising," he reports. "Physical appearance is literally transformed." The effects are even more pronounced among women than among men, his newest studies show.

Zemel recommends at least three servings of low-fat dairy foods a day for dieters. The body, he says, can't absorb more than 500 milligrams of calcium at a time. For those out to build muscle, Philips recommends two cups of fat-free milk right after exercise and again an hour later.

From Here

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