Health Scoop

Think Skim Milk is the Best Option? Think Again.

YOU CRAVE A breakfast bowl of cereal, but you’re also trying to stay skimpy with calories. So you trade in the 2% version for the milk with the light blue tint…er, label. You cut out the Swiss, the scoop of Haagen Dazs, the full fat yogurt.

But the zero fat in your milk may not be the best thing for your diet.

According to research, those who indulge in a diet higher in milk fat may actually have a 46% lower risk of getting diabetes. In one Women’s Health study, those who consumed high-fat dairy products also had a lower risk of obesity. Paradox? Not really. 

All milk products have a touch of natural sugar, and so stimulate the release of insulin. But milk products with fat are also more likely to stimulate satiety hormones. Cholecystokinin (or CCK) is one such satiety hormone that is made in the gut and released in response to nutrients, especially fat and protein. CCK’s job is to tell your brain that you’re full. Deficiencies in CCK, or his release, may correlate with an increase in diabetes, hunger and obesity according to research.

By improving responses to insulin release along with the stimulation of satiety signals, a few of those fat grams actually counteract hunger and stabilize blood sugar. Skim milk drinkers on the other hand may not feel fully satisfied and may end up battling cravings and sugar crashes.

Bottom line is that we need some fat and protein to stimulate our satiety signals. And if you’re all about the fat-free (so 1980’s), a bowl of Cap’n Crunch with a touch of the skim will not do much to help your long term goal, since you’re simultaneously increasing the potential for sugary cravings. (FYI, all that fat-free sugar turns to adipose later anyway, so you end up craving, eating, and storing more.)

Austin et al. Hormonal Regulators of Appetite. Intl J. Ped. End. 2009
Rautiainen et al. Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk of becoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women: a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr April 2016 vol. 103 no. 4 979-988
Yakoob et al. Circulating Biomarkers of Dairy Fat and Risk of Incident Diabetes Mellitus Among Men and Women in the United States in Two Large Prospective Cohorts. Circulation 2016 Apr 26;133(17):1645-54


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