How to Add Calcium Into Your Weight Loss Diet
Your body gets calcium from the food you eat, and this nutrient is essential to keep your bones healthy and prevent osteoporosis. If you’re eating a low-calorie diet in an attempt to shed some pounds, you still need to make sure you’re getting enough calcium. A deficiency in calcium may even make weight loss harder.This can be especially difficult if you’re on a vegan diet or if you’re lactose intolerant, since dairy foods are the easiest way to get calcium. However, you can still successfully add calcium into your weight-loss diet by eating plenty of leafy greens and other calcium-rich foods that are low in fat and calories.
Getting Calcium from Dairy Products
Buy low-fat or skim milk. A pint about 2 cups of skim milk only has 190 calories, and a higher calcium content than full-fat milk. Skim milk has 25 mg more calcium than whole milk.If you drink just three glasses of skim milk each day one with each meal, you’ll be well on your way to getting the calcium you need.
- If you’re between 19 and 50 years old, you need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Add 200 more milligrams per day if you’re over the age of 50. Since there are around 300 milligrams of calcium in 8 ounces of skim milk, three 8-ounce glasses a day will provide you with 900 of the 1,000 milligrams of calcium you need.
- If you include low-fat dairy in your weight-loss diet, not only will you get plenty of calcium, but you may lose weight more quickly than you would if you left milk and other dairy products out of your diet.
- If you’re lactose intolerant or don’t consume dairy products, look for non-dairy milks such as soy milk or orange juice that are fortified with calcium.
Have yogurt as a snack. Yogurt is a weight-loss staple that also happens to be a significant source of calcium. If you’re not a fan of plain yogurt, you can add fruits, nuts, or berries without decreasing the benefits of this food.
- For example, an eight-ounce serving of fruit yogurt has approximately 345 milligrams of calcium. Just two yogurt snacks during the day would get you more than half of your recommended daily allowance of calcium.
- Read the food label before you purchase yogurt to review the calories and added sugar content. Some yogurt is more like a dessert as it is full of added sugars. For example, Dannon Caramel Macchiato has 33 grams added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and no more than 36 grams 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day for men.
- Add calcium-rich nuts such as almonds to increase the calcium boost you get from yogurt.
Eat mature cheeses. If you’re on a diet, you probably think cheese is off limits. However, mature cheeses such as aged cheddar and parmesan are not only good sources of calcium, they can actually help you lose weight.Just make sure that you watch your serving sizes. A serving of cheese is 1 to 1 ½ ounces.
- These cheeses can help you lose weight thanks to high amounts of the chemical butyrate, which essentially revs up your metabolism.
- Aged cheeses such as Parmesan and Swiss also may be okay for you even if you’re lactose intolerant, since they contain very little lactose.
- These cheeses are easy to add to your weight-loss diet. For example, you might sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese onto a salad of leafy greens.
Use milk instead of water for drinks or hot cereals. If you don’t like drinking milk, you can still sneak dairy into your diet by mixing it into instant drinks or foods such as oatmeal that you would typically make with water.
- For example, you could use skim milk with instant hot chocolate instead of water for a richer, creamier drink that also gives you a boost of calcium.
- Since milk has a different consistency than water, you may need to play around with the amount you add to keep your food or drink from being too thick. However, with skim milk there’s not a significant difference.
Eating Calcium-Rich Foods
Have calcium-fortified cereal and orange juice for breakfast. There are many companies that add calcium to breakfast cereals and orange juice, so this can be an easy way to add calcium into your weight loss diet first thing in the morning.
- Check the nutrition labels to verify how much calcium is included in a single serving. You also can find out fat and calorie information there so you can figure out how to incorporate calcium-fortified foods and drinks into your weight-loss diet.
- Check the nutrition information for the amount of sugar in the cereal as well. Try to find one that has a single digit amount.
Season your meals with calcium-rich herbs and spices. There are many spices that are good sources of calcium. Although you probably won’t use a significant amount, a dash of calcium-rich herbs and spices such as garlic, basil, and oregano can give you a small calcium boost.
- Garlic and oregano are common herbs used in Italian sauces. Basil, thyme, rosemary, and parsley also are rich in calcium.
- Cinnamon is a good source of calcium as well as helping you lose weight by preventing increased storage of fat.Sprinkle cinnamon onto your breakfast cereal, or add it to your tea for a calcium boost. One tablespoon of cinnamon has 8% of your daily value of calcium.
Snack on almonds. Almonds have more calcium than any other nut, and are a good snack when you’re on a weight-loss diet. These nuts also are high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, and Vitamin E.
- Just one ounce of almonds about 22 nuts provides 8 percent of your recommended daily allowance of calcium.
- In addition to the calcium boost, almonds also can help lower your blood pressure and body fat, decreasing your risk of developing a metabolic disease that would interfere with your weight loss goals.
- While you can eat almonds by themselves as a snack, you also can sprinkle crushed almonds into your yogurt or on your salad to add calcium into your weight loss diet.
Sprinkle chia seeds on yogurts or cereals. Chia seeds are a good source of calcium and several other nutrients that are important for strong and healthy bones, such as phosphorus and magnesium. A one ounce “28 grams” serving of chia seeds provides 18% of the RDA of calcium.
- Because chia seeds have a relatively bland flavor on their own, they are easy to incorporate into your diet, such as by sprinkling them on your cereal, yogurt, salad, vegetables, or rice.
- Chia seeds also may lower your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. If you’re overweight, you already are at increased risk of developing these diseases, so chia seeds are perfect to mix into your weight-loss diet.
- If you want to add chia seeds to your diet, include about 1.5 tablespoons with two meals. For example, you might sprinkle chia seeds on your oatmeal for breakfast, then add them to your salad at lunch.
Include plenty of leafy greens and beans or legumes at lunch and dinner. Dark greens such as romaine hearts, kale, and mustard greens are particularly rich in calcium. Beans and legumes such as edamame and black-eyed peas also add a boost of calcium to your meals.
- Flavoring your vegetables with oregano, garlic, basil, or thyme will increase the calcium you get from these foods.
- Collard greens, broccoli, and turnip greens go well in a soup, casserole, or stir fry. Beans and legumes also work well here, or can be added to chili along with a light protein such as chicken or turkey.
- If you’re having a salad for lunch, include dark leafy greens such as arugula, romaine hearts, or red leaf lettuce to add calcium. A light dressing with dill or basil will increase the calcium.
Add salmon to your diet. Salmon is a lean protein that is a beneficial part of any weight-loss diet. It is not only a good source of calcium, but also Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium and regulates the amount of the nutrient in your blood.
- Sardines also are a good choice. Both sardines and salmon have edible bones, which greatly increases the calcium content in these fish. Just a single can of sardines can provide you with up to 35 percent of the calcium you need each day.
- You also can get these fish canned, which makes them an affordable and convenient way to add calcium into your weight-loss diet. Add canned salmon to your salad, or mix it into a stir fry or casserole.
Taking Calcium Supplements
Review your diet carefully. Your body will absorb calcium better if you get it from food rather than taking a supplement. Before you decide to take a supplement, figure out how you can fit calcium-rich foods into your diet.
- If you are already getting most of the calcium you need from food, you may want to add a yogurt snack or a glass of milk rather than taking a supplement.
- Keep in mind that taking too much calcium is not a benefit and may actually be worse for you than having too little, because it can negatively affect your heart health.
- There are some circumstances in which you may find it difficult to get enough calcium in your regular diet, however. For example, it can be difficult to get enough calcium if you are vegan, if you’re on a high-protein diet, or if you have osteoporosis or certain digestive or bowel diseases such as celiac disease.
Talk to your doctor. Before you start taking calcium supplements, you should talk to your doctor about whether they would benefit you. If you are taking other vitamins or medications, you also need to know if calcium supplements would interfere with those.
- There may be a link between calcium supplements and heart disease, so if you already are at a high risk for heart disease, your doctor may advise against calcium supplements.
- Calcium supplements also may interfere with blood thinners, antacids, and even some cancer drugs. You also may experience side effects such as gas, constipation, and heartburn or indigestion that you find uncomfortable.
- Your doctor can evaluate the medications you’re taking, your medical history, and your diet to help you determine whether calcium supplements would be right for you.
Look for calcium citrate. There are several different types of calcium supplements available. Of these, calcium citrate is the one most easily absorbed by the body. Calcium harvested from oyster shells may contain heavy metal contaminants which can be harmful to your body.
- You also should avoid calcium carbonate. Studies have shown little to no additional calcium was absorbed from calcium carbonate supplements. Calcium phosphate is only slightly better, with approximately one-third of the calcium absorbed from these supplements.
- To avoid damaging contaminants, make sure any supplements you take have been purified. In the U.S., you can look for supplements with the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) symbol, which indicates they meet high purification standards.
Get plenty of other nutrients necessary to absorb calcium. In addition to a calcium supplement, you also should make sure your body has a sufficient amount of nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which help balance and manage your calcium intake.
- Cod liver oil is a good source of Vitamins A and D, both of which are important in enabling your body to absorb maximum amounts of calcium.
- Boron and manganese can be found in supplements as well as in almonds and fruits such as apples and peaches.
- Because your body needs stomach acid to absorb calcium, you should avoid taking antacids while taking calcium supplements if you want to maximize your body’s ability to absorb this nutrient.