Weight Loss Programs: The No Dairy Diet Gains Steam

Successful weight loss programs are elusive for many. Advertising messages tell us that dairy is a part of weight loss programs, but is this real or hype?

Regular readers of the Rantings know that I am no fan of dairy products and I believe that it is one of the greatest marketing success stories of all time.  The milk mustache.  Milk it does a body good.  Dairy builds strong bones, teeth and muscle.

Muscle?  Seriously?  Exactly what part of milk helps build muscle?  So much for truth in advertising.  What I would really like to know is, who was the first poor sap to look at a cow’s udder and decide that drinking what comes out is a good idea.  And why a cow?  Pigs are mammals, too.  Why not milk them for profit?

But I digress from the topic.

Despite the weak evidence of success and plentiful evidence of harm (as an example, there is consistent evidence that dairy consumption increases the risk of ovarian cancer, contributes to teenage acne and is a common factor in heartburn / reflux), dairy has made it to just about every public health recommendation in the United States.  Add a little sugar, some fake chocolate, call it chocolate milk and you’ll even make it a requirement for school lunches.

Through all of this, the dairy industry has somehow positioned dairy as a part of weight loss programs, despite weak evidence at best.  Before you click the “X” at the top of your browser because you think I’m nuts and your fundamental conditioning by repeated marketing messages nearly from birth wins out, consider a few little tidbits:

  1. True, dairy may contribute to weight loss, if you consider 3 lbs in 6 months “loss.”
  2. On the flip side, dairy intake has been linked to prediabetes.
  3. Dairy has been linked to weight gain in kids, likely because we should never, ever drink our calories.

So, overall, the data is not all that supportive of using dairy products to support weight gain.  Just in case you don’t believe me, however, this particular article looks across 29 studies to see what the studies are finding about dairy as part of weight loss programs:

  • Overall, consumption of dairy products did not result in a significant reduction in weight.
  • However, when used in a short term trial (less than a year) or in calorie-restricted weight loss programs, dairy products did help.
  • In trials where calories were not restricted or studies looking at the effect on weight loss past one year, milk had the opposite effect.

Basically, there is no evidence to suggest that dairy helps with long term weight loss and may actually contribute to weight gain.  The only time it may help is for short term weight loss in an energy-restricted diet.

At least to me, the no dairy diet approach is starting to sound a little better.

How have you begun to cut dairy out of your diet?

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.