How Calcium Increases Your Ability to Burn Fat

Updated: October 20, 2022

Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health.

Recently we asked Lara if she would help us provide a series of short, ongoing videos to help you (our customers and readers) stay up to date on the latest facts and science related to bone health.

In this latest video, Lara discusses how calcium can help you get more fat burning ‘bang’ for your exercise ‘buck’. Watch the video below (or read the transcript provided) and let us know what you think in the comments. 🙂

Hello, my name is Lara Pizzorno the author of “Your Bones” and I’m here to share information with you from the breaking research that I hope will inspire you to be very good about getting enough calcium and also getting enough exercise to promote healthy bones.

Today I’d like to talk with you about the ways in which calcium helps us get more fat burning ‘bang’ for our exercise ‘buck.’

In 2005, Melanson and his research team at the Centre for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado published a study showing that calcium enhances our ability to burn fat.

For one week, subjects in this study, 10 men and 9 women, consumed either  a low calcium or low dairy diet providing about 500 mg of calcium per day. Which unfortunately is the amount that most people get or many people get in the United States now unless they are supplementing with calcium. Or they put the people on a high calcium, high dairy diet that provided approximately 1400 mg of calcium per day. And then the participants were later switched over to the diets that they hadn’t tried yet. On the seventh day for each diet, the subjects were put into a room calorie meter and on that day, their calorie intake was lower than they needed to maintain their weight. They tried to set up a calorie deficit of 600 calories less than was needed for these individuals needed to maintain their weight on that day, for just 24 hours.

They achieved this with a combination of calorie restriction and exercise, which of course is always the best way to lose weight if you need to lose weight or want to reduce your calories a little bit and want to up your exercise a little bit. That combination makes it so much easier to stick to a healthy diet because you’re not starving.

Also, as I’ve mentioned in other videos calcium actually suppresses appetite a little bit so you feel full sooner and that makes you eat less.

So you can pretty much do what they did in this study by pretty much reducing your calorie intake by 300-400 calories on the day and exercising at a level that works up a sweat for you about an hour or long enough to burn 2-300 calories. At a moderate level on the stairmaster, I find that I typically burn more than 200 calories in a half an hour and boy it really speeds by if I’m reading a good book.

So in these obese subjects when their higher calcium intake was combined with fewer calories and exercise, the amount of fat that they burned during the next 24 hours went up more than 30% increasing from 100 grams per day on the low calcium calorie restricted diet to 136 grams of fat burned per day when they were consuming 1400 mg of calcium and exercising. The researchers thought that the substantially greater fat loss seen with greater calcium intake was due to the fact that they were burning more fat when they were exercising if they’d had enough calcium.

In other words, calcium will help us get more ‘bang’ for our exercise ‘buck.’

Three years later in 2008, Teegarden and Gunther and their team published further research in which they saw a significant increase in lipid oxidation and that just means fat burning, following a 12 week placebo controlled trial of calcium supplementation along with a diet that followed a 500 calorie deficit per day. Subjects were randomized into one of three intervention groups. They either got a placebo, this was consuming less than 800 mg of calcium per day or they were in a group taking a calcium supplement providing 900 mg of calcium per day or they were in a group that got 3 servings of dairy products that gave them an additional 900 mg of calcium per day.

Fat burning increased significantly in subjects taking supplemental calcium or taking supplemental calcium and eating dairy foods.

Blood levels of parathyroid hormone decreased, which as you know it gets elevated when we don’t have enough calcium circulating in the bloodstream and then causes us to remove calcium from our bones. So it’s great that their blood levels of blood parathyroid hormone decreased and so did their loss of abdominal fat mass increased. When calcium is consumed with meals, either as part of the foods we eat or as a plant-derived calcium supplement such as AlgaeCal, the result is a significantly lower postprandial lipid response, which means less fat appears in the bloodstream after eating. Up to 19% fewer triglycerides were seen in the bloodstream in the study of people getting adequate calcium. This is probably because less fat is absorbed when food-derived calcium is consumed with a meal. Looking at the results of all of the studies shared with you in the last several videos, it’s clear that not getting enough calcium not only promotes bone loss but also causes changes in our metabolism that lessens our ability to mobilize fat, retain our muscle mass and burn fat for energy.

The next time you workout you might want to have a glass of milk instead of an energy drink afterwards. And I’ll tell you why in our next video clip. Thanks for tuning in!


Melanson EL, Donahoo WT, Dong F, et al. Effect of low- and high-calcium dairy-based diets on macronutrient oxidation in humans. Obes Res. 2005 Dec;13(12):2102-12. PMID: 16421344

Teegarden D, White KM, Lyle RM, Zemel MB, et al. Calcium and dairy product modulation of lipid utilization and energy expenditure. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Jul;16(7):1566-72. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.232. Epub 2008 Apr 17. PMID: 18421269

Lorenzen JK, Nielsen S, Holst JJ, et al. Effect of dairy calcium or supplementary calcium intake on postprandial fat metabolism, appetite, and subsequent energy intake. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;85(3):678-87. PMID: 17344487

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This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,