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Losing Weight

The 411 on the kefir and weight loss
By now, you’ve surely seen the Got Milk? Ads touting dairy’s ability to slim you down, enhancing your weight loss efforts and burn that fat! Research from the University of Tennessee has shown that consuming three to four servings of dairy products a day may help men and women shed more pounds than cutting out dairy (a common, but erroneous, weight loss tactic.)

Well, milk isn’t the only beverage that can deliver a dose of calcium to your waistline – Lifeway Kefir is a calcium powerhouse. One serving of dairy-loaded Lifeway Kefir provides 30% of your daily value of calcium and 28% of your daily value of protein (which helps keep you feeling full and satisfied).

For the real 411 on kefir and weight loss, we weighed in with Jennifer Ventrelle MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and owner of the private practice Weight No More.

 First, what are some of the overall nutritional benefits of incorporating dairy into one's diet?
Dairy is needed for children to maintain bone health and for prevention of osteoporosis - dietary calcium is better absorbed by the body than calcium in a supplement form.  Incorporation of dairy has also been shown to be a beneficial component to reduction of blood pressure.  The DASH diet (Dietary Approached to Stop Hypertension) is a diet that has been proven to lower blood pressure.  It includes 3 servings of dairy per day, along with low sodium, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. 

There's been a lot in the media over the past few years about low-fat dairy and weight loss. Is it true? Can adding a few servings to your diet help with weight loss and if so, how?

There have been some studies that have shown to reduce belly fat in people who consumed 3 servings of low-fat dairy products daily.  The effect was not found to be as great for those individuals who got calcium from supplemental sources. The thought is that when there is more dietary calcium in the cells, fat is more likely to be burned instead of stored. 
Do you recommend products like kefir (whether it's Lifeway brand or another) to your weight loss clients? What do you like about kefir in general or in particular?

Yes- I do recommend this product.  I tell them to get the low-fat versions and talk about the benefits of not only calcium from this product, but the probiotics as well.  I do caution my clients, however, since this product is slightly high in sugar- to be sure to limit their intake to 1 cup in a sitting... especially for my diabetic clients.  One benefit is that it is also high protein.  I tell my clients that it can be a great snack on its own! 

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