Weight Loss With Kefir

Milk kefir grains (Tibetan mushroom)
A small dish of kefir. (Image: vikif/iStock/Getty Images)

Low-fat kefir, a protein-rich dairy product that is packed with beneficial probiotics and calcium, can be part of any effective weight-loss diet -- when consumed as part of a reduced-calorie meal plan. Whole-milk fruit-flavored kefir products, however, aren’t the best choice for weight loss because they are higher in calories.

Protein Benefits

Increased consumption of dairy foods, such as kefir, is associated with a lower body mass index, body fat and waist circumference, according to a 2013 study published in the journal “Nutrients.” One reason for this is kefir’s high protein content. Protein helps you feel full for long periods of time and boosts your body’s energy expenditure, according to a 2008 review published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” One cup of plain, low-fat kefir contains about 11 grams of dietary protein.

Weight-Loss Calorie Needs

If you include low-fat kefir in your weight-loss menu and you consume fewer calories than you burn off each day, you should lose weight. Drinking too much kefir can hinder weight loss and even lead to weight gain, however. Many women will shed pounds eating 1,200 calories a day, and most men will safely lose weight eating 1,500 calories daily, notes Harvard Health Publications.

Best Kefir Choices

The best kefir choices for weight loss are low-fat, plain kefirs because they contain fewer calories, saturated fat and added sugar than whole-milk, fruit-flavored kefirs. For example, a cup of plain low-fat kefir contains about 110 calories, while a cup of whole-milk berry-flavored kefir has 190, and a cup of low-fat strawberry kefir contains 140 calories. Plain, low-fat kefir does provide natural sugars, but it does not contain added sugar. Avoiding added sugar is beneficial when you're trying to shed pounds.

Recommended Portions

Low-fat kefir, when consumed in recommended quantities, is a healthy addition to a weight-loss meal plan. It makes a convenient between-meal snack that helps you meet your dairy requirement. The publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" suggests eating 2.5 cups from the dairy group when consuming 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day and 3 cups of dairy foods when following 1,600- to 1,800-calorie meal plans. One cup of kefir equals a 1-cup equivalent from the dairy food group.

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