You’ve heard it time and again, but it’s true: Losing weight depends on balancing the calories you consume with what you burn through activity. Some aspects of cottage cheese can support your weight-loss efforts, and future research may prove a special relationship between dairy foods and weight loss. But ultimately, it depends on choosing low-fat brands and watching portion size.
Back to Basics
To keep the calories down, you’ll need to go with low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese. One cup of nonfat cottage cheese has 104 calories. Low-fat cottage cheese is made from milk containing 1 percent or 2 percent milk fat. When it’s 1 percent milk, you’ll get 163 calories in a 1-cup serving. The same portion of cottage cheese made from 2 percent milk has 194 calories. Stay away from creamed cottage cheese, which has extra cream added and more calories.
More Bang for the Calories
Foods that are high in water, fiber or both have fewer calories per gram of food because water and fiber add bulk without calories. This type of low-energy-dense food is a great weight-loss tool. When you cut calories, it usually means eating less food. If you choose low-energy-dense foods, you can stay within calorie goals while eating a more reasonable portion. Fruits and vegetables are the best examples of low-energy-dense foods. Cottage cheese belongs to this group because it has such a high amount of water. Foods with an energy density score of 1.5 or less are low-energy-dense foods. Cottage cheese has a score of 0.7 to 0.8.
Protein Packs an Extra Punch
Protein helps you feel full longer because it slows down the rate at which food leaves your stomach. It also does not cause a spike in blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar balanced helps you lose weight. When you have more sugar in your bloodstream than is needed for energy, it's converted into fat. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen reported that protein may increase satiety by triggering hormones that regulate your appetite, according the May 2013 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” One cup of nonfat cottage cheese supplies at least one-fourth of your recommended daily intake of protein.
Weighing Dairy's Value
News about dairy's role in weight loss is sometimes confusing because ongoing research produces different results. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed 29 different studies and concluded that dairy products may help you lose weight -- but only when they're part of a calorie-restricted diet, according to the October 2012 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Whether dairy has special value or not, low-fat cottage cheese is a good diet option. Plus it contributes to the recommended 3 cups of dairy that adults should consume daily. Just remember that 2 cups of cottage cheese equal a 1-cup serving of dairy.