For years we’ve dodged full-fat dairy, fearing it would tip the scales in the wrong direction. But recent research suggests a splash of whole milk may actually help us lose weight.
In a Swedish study, men who tucked into high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over 12 years compared with men who avoided full-fat dairy options. And an analysis of 16 studies found that high-fat dairy is actually associated with a lower risk of obesity.
Researchers aren’t sure why but one theory is that all that creaminess means we’re satisfied with a smaller serving. Another theory is that it’s down to what’s actually in the milk – a study from Purdue University in Indiana, USA found that calcium may curb weight gain in women.
Researcher Dorothy Teegarden said: ‘Calcium not only helps keep weight in check, but can be associated specifically with decreases in body fat.’ Both exercisers and non-exercisers benefited equally, as long as they didn't scoff more than 1,900 calories per day. So why not try a hot milk as part of your bedtime routine?
Not keen on dairy? Lactose-intolerant? Kefir could be the answer.
Research that pitted it against milk to compare weight-reducing effects saw some impressive results. Women who drank kefir for eight weeks saw significant reductions in their weight, BMI and waist circumference.
We already know that fermented foods – like kimchi – can reduce body weight. In a small study , overweight and obese patients who consumed fermented kimchi lost weight, lost body fat and saw a significant decrease in their waist-to-hip ratio, too.
So what’s the secret? Fermented foods might improve your digestion by boosting ‘friendly’ bacteria and helpful enzymes. Friendly and helpful indeed.
Yes, it’s true – plain, simple water can help you lose weight.
Researchers in Virginia gave a group of overweight people two glasses of water each before meals, three times a day, for 12 weeks. The results? The water-drinkers each lost about 5lb more than the control group. The scientists think it’s because water helps fill up the stomach, so you feel fuller – which means you don’t want to eat as much at each meal.
In another study, researchers found that being well-hydrated helps stabilise sleep-wake cycles so you feel more rested. So have some at dinner but just don’t drink too much too close to bedtime!
A glass of TJ does more than soothe a hangover – it can help keep you trim, too.
A small study monitored 20- and 30-somethings while they ate their usual diet and exercised as normal, but also glugged a 280ml glass of tomato juice every day for two months. At the end of the study, the tomato juice guzzlers enjoyed significantly reduced body weight, body fat, waist circumference, and BMI. It lowered their cholesterol levels, too.
At a time when we’re carefully limiting fruit juice, thanks to its high sugar content, swapping an OJ for a TJ could be a seriously slimming move!
Whey protein shake
Think they’re just for grunting muscle men in the gym? You’d be wrong – whey protein shakes could be your secret slimming weapon.
Research from Tel Aviv found that people who had whey protein at breakfast lost more weight than people who got their protein from other sources. The researchers gave overweight people one of three diets with matching calorie counts. After 12 weeks, those who had knocked back whey protein shakes had lost 7.6kg, while those who ate protein from food sources like eggs, soy and tuna shed to 6.1kg and people who ate a high carbohydrate brekkie were only 3.1kg lighter.
So what’s the secret? Whey protein suppresses the hunger hormone 'ghrelin', helps you avoid glucose spikes and keeps you satisfied. In the evening, swap whey for soya milk or full-fat milk and you’ll get a dose of tryptophan – an amino acid that can help you feel sleepy. Just in time for bed.Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies. You may also like: Our top tips for weight loss, little effort required; Is this the secret to better sleep?; Getting the most nutrients from your food; Should you go dairy-free?