How Calcium Promotes Fat Loss

Updated: August 27, 2020

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 the surprising benefit of calcium: it promotes fat loss. Watch the video below (or read the transcript provided) and let us know what you think in the comments. 🙂

Hello, I’m Lara Pizzorno and I’m here today to share some information with you from the breaking research that I hope will inspire you and help you have healthier bones.

As I mentioned in an earlier video, it turns out that calcium consumed adequately promotes fat loss. And in this video we’ll talk a little bit more about what the latest research has found out to be the reasons why this happens.

Let’s start with the fact that calcium causes us to excrete more fat in stools.

Typically two extra grams of fat are sent out of our bodies each day when we get enough calcium and this does not even begin to account for the additional 5 grams we lose per day that we lose per day, which we have seen in studies with a diet that restricting calorie intake, usually to produce a deficit of about 500 calories below what’s needed to maintain your weight is also being followed.

If you would like to figure out how many calories per day you would need to be consuming to be producing a 500 calories per day deficit yourself, I’ve provided a link that will appear along with this video to a simple but accurate calorie calculator that you can use to find out.

So if calcium is consumed while dieting, it causes a loss of 5 g per day instead of just 2.

And this means that other mechanisms besides our excreting extra fat in our stools must be contributing as well and what they are and precisely how they promote fat loss are what the researchers are investigating now.

In the study that I discussed initially in our last video, Gonzalez and his research teams in Great Britain think that the increased fat loss that occurs due to calcium is in part due to calcium’s effects two peptides we produce in our digestive tract that promote the release of insulin from the pancreas. This is a bit technical but bare with me, it won’t take very long. These peptides are called glucose dependent insulinotropic polypeptide 1 through 42, the short form of this is GIP and glucagon like peptide or GLP. GIP and GLP are secreted by special cells in our gastrointestinal tract and later degraded by an enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase 4 or DPP-4.

And what triggers the secretion of GIP and GLP? Calcium. Specifically when the concentration of calcium in the digestive tract increases this wakes up the extracellular calcium sensing receptor and GIP and GLP get produced. And the actions of GIP and GLP which both promote insulin secretion are further increased by the presence of amino acids, in other words protein.

So it turns out that the peptides in protein and especially in moprotein inhibit DIP 4 from breaking down GIP and GLP. So the presence of calcium and protein together, what you get in a meal that includes dairy protein or if you take AlgaeCal Plus along with some protein, act synergistically to enhance concentrations of GIP and GLP, thus reducing hunger and boosting our use of calories to use as energy instead of being stored as fat.

Plus, both of these gastrointestinal peptides along with calcium intake have also been linked to an increase to what is termed lipolysis, which means in english the breakdown of fat. So calcium helps to use more energy by using fat and it also decreases our fat absorption so more get excreted in our stools and we now know that calcium also delays gastric emptying. When food passes through the stomach to the small intestine.

So the feeling of fullness lasts longer and we eat less.

GIP and GLP work together to reduce appetite in both animal and human studies the infusion of GLP dose-dependently reduces appetite and food intake and insulin secretion is also known to suppress appetite.

GIP boosts insulin production both by stimulating the brain, which then stimulates pancreatic beta cells, the cells that are responsible for producing insulin and by directing stimulating the beta cells to produce insulin as well. And the end result is a 20% increase in insulin production.

Gonzalez and his team tested these effects calcium in a randomized, double blind crossover study, which means everyone, both the researchers and the participants who were 12 men and 8 women blinded to the intervention, nobody knew which type of pre-meal supplement they were getting and they all tried each of 4 pre-meal variations. And these were: a low calcium low protein control meal, a high calcium pre load meal, a high protein pre load meal, and a high calcium high protein pre load meal.

Trials were conducted in the Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratories of Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK. And each trial was separated by two or more days, but not by more than 7 days. After the high protein high calcium pre lad trial, total energy intake in other words the amount of calories consumed for the day was 3,419 calories. This was the lowest amount of calories consumed in any of these trials.

The next best was the high calcium pre load day, which total calorie intake was not that much more 3,501 calories. This was followed by the high protein pre load trial, during which 3, 699 calories were consumed and least effective was the low calcium low protein pre load trial. On that day 4,126 calories were consumed. Almost 900 more calories were eaten on that day compared to the high protein high calcium meal day. And 800 calories more were eaten than when the pre load meal was a high calcium meal to start out the day.

After the high protein pre load trial, subjects burned enough calories to balance out what they later consumed so they didn’t gain weight, but after the high calcium pre load meal, subjects burned way more energy than they consumed.

A few months before the publication of this latest study, Gonzalez team had reported that adding calcium to a mixed macronutrient meal suppressed appetite while also increasing blood levels of insulin in healthy men.

And as you probably know, insulin is the hormone that gets glucose or sugar that is circulating in our bloodstream inside our cells where it is then used to produce energy instead of being stored away as fat. Remember that GIP and GLP increase insulin secretion and decrease the sensation for appetite. So taking calcium along with a meal resulted in a 47% increase in GIP and a 22% increase in GLP, a 19% increase in insulin for 3 hours following the meal. Furthermore, taking calcium along with the meal lessens hunger sensations by 12%.

Are you inspired? Gonzalez research is just the latest in a number of studies and in our next video we’ll talk about the research about how calcium can help you burn more fat when you’re dieting,  especially that hard to lose belly fat. And do it without feeling hungry.

I hope this information has been helpful to you and you tune in next time!


Calorie calculator:

Gonzalez JT, Stevenson EJ. Calcium co-ingestion augments postprandial glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide(1-42), glucagon-like peptide-1 and insulin concentrations in humans. Eur J Nutr. 2014;53(2):375-85. doi: 10.1007/s00394-013-0532-8. Epub 2013 May 21. PMID: 23689561

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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,