If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ll know only too well how hard it can be to persevere long term with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise programme. Is there anything else people can do alongside this strategy to help them shape up and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease? Eating fortified yogurt as part of a calorie-controlled diet could be the answer, say the authors of this article.
Healthy, sustainable weight loss involves losing body fat while maintaining muscle mass, but this is easier said than done with a calorie-controlled diet. The good news is that there are some foods that can make it easier to shed surplus fat. The results of this study in overweight and obese people suggest that eating fortified yogurt while on a calorie-restricted diet could help with fat loss and reduce risk factors linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Why fortify yogurt?
This study recruited overweight or obese people with risk factors that made it more likely they would develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease (e.g. excess fat around the waist, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high blood triglycerides, low blood HDL-cholesterol). During the 10-week study, the participants ate a calorie-controlled diet including two daily servings of either low-fat plain yogurt or yogurt fortified with whey protein, calcium, vitamin D, prebiotic fibre and probiotic cultures. These have been shown to have positive effects on fat loss, muscle mass, blood lipids, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.
Fortified yogurt was associated with greater fat loss
People who ate fortified yogurt lost similar amounts of weight as those who ate plain yogurt. Both groups lost 5–6% of their body weight while on the 10-week calorie-controlled diet, and this was associated with lower blood pressure.
‘The observed improvements in blood pressure are also likely due to weight loss. However, the yogurt consumption of both groups may have had a lowering effect on blood pressure due to bioactive peptides present in fermented milk products.’ – Mohammadi-Sartang et al, 2018.
But the fortified yogurt showed some important advantages. People who ate fortified yogurt lost more body fat, had a greater reduction in waist size, and showed greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood lipids. Fortified yogurt was also associated with less muscle loss.
Heathy gut bacteria may help to reduce body fat
Prebiotics and probiotics can modulate the gut microbiota and there is some evidence that this may help with weight loss. Lots of possible explanations have been suggested, including effects on fat digestion, reducing toxins in the gut, and reducing the size of fat-storing cells.
The authors say that more work needs to be done to find out if fortified yogurt could be used to prevent or treat risk factors in obese people. If so, it could be a way of eating your way to fat loss and better health.
‘Consuming FY [fortified yogurt] for 10 weeks improved body composition and metabolic parameters while on a caloric-restricted diet.’ – Mohammadi-Sartang et al, 2018.