Full-Fat Paradox: Why Whole Milk Makes You Lean

FAT, WEIGHT GAINAlright, admit it. How many times have you caved in to the creaminess of a full-fat latte or frozen yogurt?

It’s an indulgence you don’t necessarily need to worry about. In fact, if you want to reduce your body fat, you may want to try consuming more whole-fat dairy products. Bring back the full fat! The zero-fat craze has had its day, new research shows.


Two new studies have investigated the link between whole-milk dairy and healthy body weight. Turns out that double scoop of full-fat ice cream isn’t so bad after all.

One study, published by the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care has some great news for dairy lovers everywhere. Swedish researchers discovered that middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter or cream were far less likely to become obese over a 12-year period compared to those who never, or hardly ever, consumed high-fat dairy.

The second investigation involved 16 observational studies. Published in the European Journal of Nutrition, it concluded that high-fat dairy foods don’t contribute to overall obesity and heart disease risk. In fact, researchers found that high-fat dairy was linked to a lower risk of obesity.

“We continue to see more and more data coming out [which finds] consumption of whole-milk dairy products is associated with reduced body fat,” Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, told NPR.

RELATED READING: Your Waistline Could Shorten Your Life

Flip Side: Skinny Milk Puts On Pounds

Interestingly, this is not the first paper to point this out. In a March 2013 study of nearly 11,000 American preschoolers, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, researchers confirmed that low-fat or skim milk was associated with weight gain. In other words, children who drank such milk tended to be on the heavier side, regardless of their race, ethnicity and economic background.

This research followed a 2010 study by Boston’s Children’s Hospital, which also looked at preschool-aged children. Researchers here discovered that two year olds who consumed more whole milk showed a slightly lower BMI (body mass index). Their other finding: Switching from whole milk to reduced-fat milk at that age did not seem to prevent weight problems later in childhood.


RELATED READING: Eat Less To Prolong Your Life

Feel Fuller, Longer With High-Fat Dairy

Although scientists are not sure what’s behind this phenomenon, they say bioactive substances in milk fat may actually change your metabolism, helping you to convert fat into energy instead of just storing it in your body. Or the reason might be even simpler than that: Higher levels of fat in whole milk products may make you feel fuller, faster, causing you to eat less as a result. Either way, this link between higher dairy fat and lower body weight has never been more clear.

So enjoy that whole milk grande latte the next time around; not only is it a guilt-free indulgence, but science says you could be doing your body a favor!