Study Finds High Protein Dairy Products Can Be Included in Healthy Weight Loss Program Interview with:

Evelyn Parr Research Officer / PhD Candidate | Centre for Exercise and Nutrition Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research Australian Catholic University

Evelyn Parr

Evelyn Parr
Research Officer / PhD Candidate | Centre for Exercise and Nutrition
Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research
Australian Catholic University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Results from previous investigations suggest that compared to a healthy ‘control’ diet, increased consumption of dairy foods in an energy restricted diet lead to improved body composition (i.e., a loss of fat mass and the maintenance of lean mass).

We investigated the effects of manipulating  the type of dairy foods (i.e., low- or high fat) within high protein, energy restricted diets on body composition and selected health parameters. Eighty-nine middle-aged (35-59 y), male and females who were overweight or obese completed a 16 week intervention comprising 3 d/wk supervised resistance training and 4 d/wk unsupervised aerobic -based exercise (i.e. walking). During this time they consumed a diet that was energy restricted by 250 kcal/d comprising either
1) high protein, moderate carbohydrate (4-5 normal fat dairy product servings),
2) high protein, high carbohydrate (4-5 low-fat, carbohydrate sweetened dairy product servings or
3) a control diet of moderate protein, high carbohydrate diet (1-2 dairy servings).

We found that in the face of energy restriction, when protein intakes were above the recommended daily intakes (>0.8 g/kg body mass) and regular exercise was completed, there was no difference in the loss of fat mass  (~8 kg) when participants consumed 4-5 serves of dairy products in either low- or high-fat. Furthermore, participants maintained  lean (muscle) mass throughout the energy restricted period. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Clinicians and patients should not restrict dairy food intakes when trying to reduce energy intake to reduce weight loss. Instead, the focus should be on high quality protein foods, such as dairy products, and spread evenly across the day. It is well known that breakfast often does not contain a lot of protein and high protein dairy foods are a great way to achieve this by using real food. Preventing the loss of lean tissue, i.e. muscle mass, is integral in a good weight loss strategy and we believe this was achieved in our intervention due to the concomitant resistance and aerobic exercise training modalities. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We hope that future dietary interventions always include an exercise stimulus in order to see the true effect in a lifestyle intervention, where exercise positively changes the effects that a diet may have on its own (i.e. is complementary). Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 May;24(5):1035-45. doi: 10.1002/oby.21451.
Epub 2016 Mar 2.

A randomized trial of high-dairy-protein, variable-carbohydrate diets and exercise on body composition in adults with obesity.

Parr EB1, Coffey VG2, Cato LE3, Phillips SM4, Burke LM1,3, Hawley JA1,5.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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