Tag Archives: fat loss

Calcium and Fat Loss

With the increasing popularity of dairy free diets – Palaeolithic – and growing fear of coronary artery calcification, dietary calcium (Ca2+) intakes are decreasing. Low calcium intakes not only have implications for bone health, recent evidence has indicated Ca2+ may regulate body fat content, and increased Ca2+ intakes may actually enhance fat loss when combined with moderate energy restriction (Zemel et al. 2005). It is interesting to note that a number of studies are now illustrating the fact that high milk intakes seem to have certain abdominal anti-obesity effects regardless of the individual’s physical activity (Abreu et al. 2013). Reports have also indicated an inverse association between frequency of milk consumption and body mass in children (Barba et al. 2005). Such evidence clearly highlights the influence of dietary calcium Ca2+ intake on body fat content.


Inadequate Ca2+ intake has been associated with increased body mass index and body fat content, suggesting dietary Ca2+ intake may have certain anti-obesity properties. Various studies have demonstrated a key role of intracellular Ca2+ in regulating adipocyte lipid metabolism. It appears dietary calcium modulates circulating calcitriol, which in turn is responsible for the regulation of adipocyte intracellular calcium. Using the agouti mouse model Zemel et al. (2000) reported the influence of intracellular Ca2+ on the accumulation of fat and obesity in these animals. This mechanism alludes that low dietary Ca2+ intakes result in an increase in 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D which in turn stimulates Ca2+ influx into the adipocyte (fig.1). Increased dietary Ca2+ via parathyroid hormone (PTH) chronically lowers intracellular Ca2+ in the adipocyte. Thus either directly, or perhaps via insulin intracellular Ca2+ would regulate the expression of fatty acid synthase (FAS) – a key enzyme in the regulation of lipid deposition. In addition increased dietary calcium also stimulates adipose tissue lipolysis via its influence on cAMP production and thus the phosphorylation of hormone sensitive lipase (HSL). Intracellular Ca2+ results in a decrease in thermogenesis and reciprocal stimulation of lipogenesis, inhibition of lipolysis and thus causing an expansion of adipocyte triglyceride stores. Increased levels of 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D levels is also responsible for the redistribution of body fat to the abdomen through the stimulation of cortisol. Increased dietary Ca2+ would also suppress 1,25-dihyroxy vitamin D levels, thus supposedly inhibiting adiposity and promoting weight loss (Zemel, 2009).calcium-chart

Existing evidence

A short-term Ca2+ supplement study on mice revealed Ca2+ intakes of 1.2% total energy lead to a 51% reduction in lipogenesis and a fivefold stimulation of lipolysis, resulting in a 29% decrease in body weight and a 36% decrease in fat mass (Zemel et al. 2000). She Ping-Delfos & Soares (2011) also reported an acute dose of high Ca2+ (543.2mg) at breakfast significantly increased whole body fat oxidation (p<0.02) and dietary induced thermogenesis (p<0.01) when compared to a low Ca2+ (248.2mg) breakfast. In a randomized, controlled, crossover study conducted in a whole room calorimeter Melanson et al. (2005) reported a high Ca2+ (~1,400mg/day-1  as dairy) diet suppressed calcitriol and resulted in a 30g/day-1 (270 kcal/day-1) increase in fat oxidation. Similarly a high Ca2+  (1000mg/day-1) diet increased diet induced thermogenesis over two successive meals, and more significantly the mean 1-year change in whole body fat oxidation was greater in the high Ca2+ group compared to low Ca2+ group (<800mg/day-1) (Gunther et al. 2005). However, more recent evidence using abdominal subcutaneous microdialysis indicates that Ca2+ (~1,400mg/day-1 as milk mineral) for 5-weeks did not stimulate lipolysis, glycerol turnover or fat oxidation (Bortolotti et al. 2008).

Some studies suggest that those with habitually low Ca2+ (<600mg/day-1) intakes benefit more from Ca2+ supplementation, as when Ca2+ deficiency exists the efficiency of Ca2+  absorption is improved (Soares et al. 2011). Further, Ca2+ supplements seem to augment fat oxidation to a greater degree than dairy Ca2+ (Gonzalez et al. 2012). This despite the fact that dairy Ca2+ appears to be more effective in weight and fat loss trials, possibly owing to the synergistic effects of the bioactive components within dairy.


Existing evidence suggests chronic (<7-days) high Ca2+ (~1,300mg/day-1) intake increases fat oxidation, which when combined with moderate energy restriction (-500kcal/day-1) may result in fat loss (Gonzalez et al. 2012).

Future research should aim to validate new evidence that fat oxidation is increased following acute Ca2+ intake, and distinguish the long-term effects of a high- Ca2+ diet on the rate of fat oxidation.


Abreu, S., Santos, R., Moreira, C., Santos, P., Vale, S., Soares-Miranda, L., et al… (2013). Relationship of milk intake and physical activity to abdominal obesity among adolescents. Pediatric Obesity, [ahead of print].

Barba, G., Troiano, E., Russo, P., Venezia, A., & Siani, A. (2005). Inverse association between body mass and frequency of milk consumption in children. British Journal of Nutrition, 93, 15 – 9.

Bortolotti, M., Rudelle, S., Schneiter, P., Vidal, H., Loizon, E., Tappy, L., & Acheson, K. (2008). Dairy calcium supplementation in overweight or obese persons: It’s effects on markers of fat metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 88, 877 – 885.

Gunther, C. W., Lyle, R. M., Legowski, P. A., James, J. M., McCabe, L. D., McCabe, G. P.,… & Teegarden, D. (2005). Fat oxidation and its relation to serum parathyroid hormone in young women enrolled in a 1-y dairy calcium intervention. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82, 1228 – 1234.

Jawadwala, R. (2011) Dietary Calcium – A potential ergogenic aid? Book chapter in Duncan M. J. (Ed.) Trends in Human Performance Research. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Melanson, E., Donahoo, W., Dong, F., Ida, T., & Zemel, M. (2005). Effect of low- and high-calcium dairy-based diets on macronutrient oxidation in humans. Obesity Research, 13, 2102-2112.

She Ping-Delfos, W., & Soares, M. (2011). Diet induced thermogenesis, fat oxidation and food intake following sequential meals: Influence of calcium and vitamin D. Clinical Nutrition, 30, 376 – 383.

Soares, M. J., Ping-Delfos, W. C. S., & Ghanbari, M. H. (2011). Calcium and vitamin D for obesity: a review of randomized controlled trials. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65, 994-1004.

Zemel, M. B., Shi, H., Greer, B., Dirienzo, D., & Zemel, P. C. (2000). Regulation of adiposity by dietary calcium. The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 14, 1132-1138.

Zemel, M.B., Richards, J., Milstead, A., & Campbell, P. (2005). Effects of calcium and dairy on body composition and weight loss in African-American adults. Obesity Research,13, 1218–1225.

Zemel., M. (2009). Proposed role of calcium and dairy food components in weight management and metabolic health. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 37, 29 – 39.

Bio: Matt is the Lead Performance Nutritionist at PurePharma, and also runs his own business, Nutrition Condition UK. He holds a BSc (Honours) degree in Sport & Exercise Science, and an MSc in Nutrition Science. In 2010 Matt completed a 12-month Performance Nutrition internship with the Welsh Rugby Union, which allowed him an in depth insight into the practical application of the nutrition knowledge he gained at university. He continues to work closely with the Welsh Rugby Union through the North Wales region RGC 1404. As Lead Performance Nutritionist at PurePharma he is responsible for the development and delivery of all the nutrition related information both on the website and in product marketing material, and also plays a major role in product innovation.

Through his own Performance Nutrition business, Nutrition Condition he delivers frequent Health & Wellbeing Workshops to corporate and personal clients advising on how best to develop a sound, scientifically structured nutrition programme free from fads and marketing bias. Nutrition Condition also delivers Performance Nutrition services to professional athletes.

Matt can be contacted on matt@purepharma.com or matt@nutritioncondition.com

For regular updates follow Matt on Twitter @mattncuk.  


Interview – Fitness Expert Laura Mak

paige-hathawaySNI: What is the most annoying exercise myth that you deal with in working with clients?

Mak: When women say “I don’t want to get big, so I don’t want to lift heavy.” – Now liftying and lifting heavy are typically very different for women. It is a fact that we women need weight training, to help increase metabolism, bone density, and over all health.There isn’t too much benefit in lifting the 1, 2,and 3lbs (unless you are coming off an injury) but other than that at least challenge yourself with 5lbs or more!! :) Heavy lifting is really more when one is lift for either a one max rep (the heaviest weight they can do for one repetition) or only a few repetitions. This is not typically your weight loss, body shaping weight training protocol. For general conditioning and weight reduction, you still have to have enough weight to make it challenging, but it still isn’t considered “heavy”.

SNI: What is the ‘perfect meal’ for you? Describe what you would eat and why.

Mak: Oh lets see, I love a wide variety of foods, but mostly my favorite meals have a majority of protein (chicken fish turkey, lean steak occasionally) and LOTS of veggies – mostly green – spinach, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, etc. . . .and using them in different combinations, instead of eating the same thing all the time, just because it is healthy. The body needs to have a mixture of foods so it doesn’t plateau, just like it needs a mixture of exercises.

SNI: Give your top 5 supplements for health and why.

Mak: Well, lets see, right now, since I just had a baby, I am still taking my prenatals, which I love because not only are they a complete vitamin, they also have digestive support and a vitality blend that includes chlorella, spirulina and alpha juice.I take an DHA/EPA omega blend, which is good for me and baby too. And lastly, a probiotic – just for general digestion and absorption. Those are my key supps right now. Before baby I would also take a mixture of the following, glutamine, BCAAs, and AHCC (a mushroom blend to keep me healthy).

SNI: For women who want to develop their booty like there’s no tomorrow, describe the best exercises for that.

Mak: Well I always say the single best leg exercise is the LUNGE!! There are so many variations of it that can target the glutes in so many effective ways. Just by changing the angle of where the leg lunges, can change the emphasis it has on the glutes. I think this is the single most effective exercise!

SNI: For those who want a 6-pack, what’s the secret? Diet? Describe the best way to eat for attaining those abs.

Mak: YES, first diet definitely comes into play, because your 6-pack doesn’t come to the surface unless there isn’t a layer of body fat or water that is hiding and disguising it. That 6 pack will defintely be present by maintaining a high protein, low complex carb diet and drinking lots of water, about a gallon a day. The more water you drink the more water you flush out of the body. Have 1-2 servings of carbs for meals 1 and 3, then the rest 2,4 ,and 5 meals should just be protein and veggie. It is important to use a variety of exercises that target all 4 parts of the abs including the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the transversus abdominus. It doesn’t take thousands of repetitions, but it does take a concentrated effort to really target the muscles. In addition, I never work just the side movement for my abs, that has a tendancy to “widen” the look of the waist, and who wants a wide waist. When I work the sides it always has an oblique twist to keep that tiny waist in tact

SNI: Describe the ‘perfect workout’ if your goal is fat loss.

Mak: The Perfect workout consists of an INTENSE 30 minutes of full body, multi-joint exercises that keeps the heart rate elevated so I am burning calories, gaining strength, and developing muscles and endurance at the same time! Typically I use dumbbells, and a variety of machines to mix the workout together. I will add in some plyometric training 1-2 exercises for lower body and usually at least one for upper body. My abs I use as an “active rest” in between sets where I practice 3-4 exercises back to back without rest, or my abs are my “rest”. Short and definitely sweet, (after its all done that is!! :))

BIO – Over the past 19 years certified fitness expert Laura Mak, has used her Master’s Degree in Exercise Science from Michigan State University to help others live a fit lifestyle. She has made it part of her career in fitness to be a healthy living leader, a forward thinker, and a positive woman’s role model in every way when she undertakes a new project. Since her early days in training as an elite gymnast and then on to the top ranks as an IFBB Fitness Pro, Laura Mak has taken her passion for Lifestyle Fitness, Online Women’s Fitness Training, and Pre and Post Natal Specialist to a level only reached by the top echelon in the fitness industry.

Laura has been interviewed, featured, and contributed articles as a Fitness Expert in numerous health and fitness magazine publications such as Oxygen, Muscle and Fitness HERS, SELF, Prevention, FITNESS, Muscle and Fitness, Ironman, Natural Muscle, H2O Fitness, Planet Muscle, and Le Monde Muscle (French). She has been interviewed or featured as a fitness and wellness expert on Fox Sports, ESPN2, TBS, and local affiliates of NBC, ABC and WB.

Laura Mak has had the pleasure to work with a variety of people such as professional athletes, entertainers, top CEO’s, and numerous clients who want to take their fitness to the next level. Whether your goal is weight loss, body fat reduction, strength training, stretching and flexibility, or simply increasing your energy through out the day, Laura’s master fitness coaching plan can work for you!

According to her clients, Laura has an enthusiasm that is contagious, a patient teaching platform, and the commitment to help you achieve results fast! You may be laughing and having a great time while working with Laura, but it is all part of the plan to improve your fitness lifestyle.