Is There A Link Between Dairy Products Consumption & Obesity?

Is There A Link Between Dairy Products Consumption & Obesity?

Suruchi Patwary

We asked Pranay Jham, Founder of ACTIVeat and a certified nutrition consultant to understand if there is any direct correlation between dairy and obesity and he explained it all in detail. Scroll down to read all about it!

Pranay Jham, ACTIVeat Founder
Pranay Jham

What Is Milk?

Such a simple question, but most people can’t quite answer it. Milk is a liquid made up of water, fat, proteins, lactose (milk sugar) and minerals. Milk is known to be a high-protein and nutritious beverage. However, to some people, it is thought to be 'bad'.

Milk is available in many varieties nowadays, from organic to fat-free, and flavoured versions, not to mention almond, soy, cashew and coconut, there is a milk option out there catering to all kinds of dietary needs and choices.

1 cup of Cow’s milk (300ml) has 220 calories and 15gm of sugar. This is naturally- occurring sugar called lactose, which provides milk with a slightly sweet taste. However, this natural sugar should not be confused with added sugars that are found in packaged foods and beverages.

Does Lactose In Cow's Milk & Dairy Products Make You Fat?

Fresh Diary Products By Goskova Tatiana |
Fresh Dairy Products

Added sweeteners like fructose corn syrup and sucrose have been linked to weight gain and other health problems when excessively consumed. Flavoured milk or yoghurt-like chocolate, strawberry, vanilla flavoured milk/yogurt has added sugar or fructose corn syrup to give it a sweet taste that appeals to our palate which can lead to weight gain.

Lactose here isn’t the culprit, the only reason to avoid lactose would be specific dietary needs such as milk allergies, lactose intolerance, or simply to surprise the taste buds.

No single food can automatically make you gain weight by simply consuming it. The real issue when discussing 'does milk make you fat?' is that bodyweight is based on the relationship between energy intake (what you eat) and energy expenditure (what you burn).

Can Cutting Out Dairy Help You Lose Weight?

Man Losing Weight By Elnur |
Man Losing Weight

Although some people may have found success by giving up dairy, is cutting out this entire food group really the magic factor to help you lose weight for good?

If dairy makes up a significant portion of our daily caloric intake, then yes, cutting out dairy will help you lose weight. While you’re cutting out a major group and replacing it with something else, like almond milk or unsweetened low-fat dairy products, then you’re taking in fewer calories each day. It’s the number of calories eaten versus the calories burnt at the end of the day.

For some people dairy is more of an inflammatory issue, not being able to digest dairy properly can cause bloating, gas and other uncomfortable effects. If you are one of these people, leaving dairy off your nutrition plan will certainly reduce your belly- bloat, you may find that your digestion improves and your stomach will flatten out.

Is The Saturated Fat In The Milk Unhealthy?

It is true that many dairy products are relatively high in saturated fat and contain some trans fat as well however, it also has vital nutrients including protein, calcium, vitamins D, A, E and folate.

Unless you are avoiding dairy for medical reasons, stopping dairy consumption altogether may make you nutrient-deficient. This causes your immunity system to weaken. It is wiser to consume in moderation, track the calories and be mindful about it rather than removing them altogether from your diet.


Woman Drinking Milk By VP Photo Studio |
Woman Drinking Milk

Still feeling lost about milk and how it affects your weight?

Milk can cause you to gain weight when it contributes to a calorie intake that is greater than the number of calories you burn. The weight gain will be as a result of the extra calorie intake rather than any particular compounds in the milk.

You can add approximately 220 calories to your intake by drinking 1 cup of milk. The lactose and fat in milk will contribute to the calorie amount. It is therefore easy to see how drinking a few glasses of milk every day can add on the calories and therefore the kilograms.

Flavoured dairy products will have ingredients that will usually include sugar which will increase the caloric intake. Cheese is majorly the fat component of milk and will be higher in calories, so limiting its intake will help stay in a calorie deficiency. Low-fat milk, almond milk, soy milk are good alternatives if you’re on a weight loss journey.

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