Already have an account?
Get back to the
Weight Loss

Cheese for Weight Loss? Yes! Here’s Why Docs Say It’s a “Secret Weapon” for Women Over 50

It worked for Jean Evans Davila, 60 — she lost 167 lbs!

We’ve got good news for anyone who loves cheese and wants to lose weight: A recent multi-university study found that getting lots of yummy dairy foods not only protects the bones of postmenopausal dieters, it also doubles or even triples the speed at which we burn fat from our belly and hips. Turns out, dairy is crammed with nutrients that tip the scales in our favor. And while low-fat mozzarella or 1% yogurt is fine for those who prefer it, “full-fat cheese can be a secret weapon that helps you reach a healthy weight,” says David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, a Harvard endocrinologist and researcher.

A little skeptical? So was Jean Evans Davila. As a vegetarian who eats dairy but no meat, she decided to try a ‘lazy’ keto plan. “I had yogurt or cheese at virtually every sitting, guilt-free,” shares the Connecticut retiree, 60. “And I’ve lost 167 pounds.” Keep reading to find out how to use cheese for weight loss…

Isn’t cheese bad for us?

According to Dr. Ludwig, large studies demonstrate the saturated fat—in dairy or any food—doesn’t cause heart disease. And Swedish scientists have 12 years of evidence that shows full-fat dairy makes us slimmer, not heavier. Do experts advise eating unlimited amounts? No. Because overconsuming anything is usually harmful. But saturated fat isn’t the heart-damaging bad guy it was once made out to be — and you can get a lot of benefits from enjoying full-fat dairy in a healthy diet. Consider this, for example: Enjoying two ounces full-fat cheese a day is linked to being 40% more relaxed, per an Australian study. Scientists say it’s because cheese compounds help release calming hormones.

Also worth noting: Some diets suggest that whether we’re lactose intolerant or not, dairy causes cellular inflammation that drives weight gain and health problems. True or false? While it certainly is possible to have a dairy sensitivity, most research shows dairy doesn’t cause inflammation. In one test, milk even led to “significant suppression of inflammatory markers,” says noted University of Tennessee dairy expert Michael Zemel, PhD.

The bottom line: If dairy doesn’t agree with you, skip it. Otherwise, getting multiple servings a day is proven to do pretty amazing things, like slashing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures and helping prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more. And that’s on top of the many ways dairy helps shrink the waist.

Related: Eating More of This Delicious Food Can Help Reduce the Risk of Fractures and Falls As You Age

Cheese for weight loss: Why belly fat disappears

Packed with calcium, vitamin D, amino acids, fatty acids and thyroid-boosting iodine, dairy’s many slimming benefits include the following:

Dairy is natural way to improve blood-sugar regulation

Three daily servings of full-fat dairy has enough of a compound called trans-palmitoleic acid (TPA) to help slim a “sugar belly,” says a study led by Tufts’ Dariush Mozaffarian, MD.

How? TPA lets the body control blood sugar better and with less insulin. And less insulin is a good thing for our middles, since the hormone stores excess sugar as belly fat and also blocks the burning of stored fat. TPA can blunt the effect, allowing us to finally release stubborn flab. It also makes us 60% less likely to get diabetes, per Dr. Mozaffarian’s team.

Related: 5 Easy Lifestyle Tricks That May Help You Balance Your Blood Sugar

Dairy delivers a fat burn super-boost

“Milk, yogurt and cheese are the richest dietary sources of the amino acid leucine,” reports Zemel. “Leucine sends signals that increase the release of fat from fat cells and increase fat burning in muscles.” 

Calcium revs burn even more. Since we need the mineral to regulate heartbeat, our body hoards calcium in fat cells if we don’t eat enough. This locks the cells and traps fat. Luckily, increasing calcium untraps it. So much so that, Zemel says, “if you cut calories as you increase calcium, you’ll lose more than double the fat than if you cut calories alone.”

Yogurt, plus cheddar and provolone have probiotic power

There’s a lot of talk about good bacteria in our digestive tract these days, and it’s no wonder. Certain strains of probiotics — including varieties found in yogurt and cheeses that are aged but not heated (like cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, cottage cheese) — are proven to help us lose weight and belly fat.

In one study, overweight test subjects lost about 4% of their body fat during six weeks when probiotic-rich yogurt was added to their lab-prepared meals.

Meanwhile, in one of Zemel’s landmark studies, dieters who ate yogurt three times a day burned up to 81% more belly fat than those who got the same calories but no yogurt.

Related: Eating This Tasty Food 2 Hours Before Dinner Can Help You Consume Smaller Portions and Shed Weight

How much dairy is ideal?

In the study that led to triple belly and hip fat burn, women ate 4 to 5 servings a day as part of healthy 1,500-calorie menu. But less is okay too: Zemel’s research has shown great results with 3 daily servings.

Cheese for weight loss success story: Priscilla Schager, 80

“Two years ago, I was in a lot of pain and needed a cane to get around,” shares California grandmother Priscilla Schager. “Coming up on my 79th birthday, I thought, I don’t want to turn 80 like this.” Past diet efforts left her feeling deprived and prone to overeating. “But I found a WeightWatchers group on Facebook. People were having success making yummy-looking recipes.” She decided to try it for herself.

Knowing she needed calcium for bone health, she stocked up on dairy. “The WW plan lets you eat fat-free yogurt and cottage cheese without measuring or counting, which was nice.” They became mainstays. So did cheesy eggs, whole-grain cereal with milk, even low-sugar ice cream. “Dairy is so creamy and satisfying, and that really helped me,” says Priscilla. “I steadily lost weight and felt better.”

In a year, she ditched her cane, was taken off blood-pressure meds and traded her size 18s for 12s. “I lost mostly around the waist,” she shares. “I have more energy and vitality than I’ve had in years. My hubby and I want to travel, take cruises, see the world. I can’t wait for the future.” Sipping a yogurt smoothie, Priscilla, now 80, adds: “I’m so glad I got my act together!”

Cheese for weight loss before and after: Jean Davila, 60

Before and after photos of Jean Davila who lost 167 lbs with the help of cheese for weight loss
Mark Shauck

As Jean Evans Davila’s dad underwent chemotherapy, “he encouraged me to improve my health while I had ‘the gift of time,’” she recalls. “But at nearly 60, I thought it might be too late for a major change.”

Then she found Dirty Lazy Keto at Target. Impressed that the book’s author lost 140 pounds eating delicious low-carb food, she decided to try it. A favorite discovery? “I could have a lot of cheese and still lose,” says Jean, who enjoyed cheese omelets, cheese subs (on Subway’s low-carb bread), cauliflower-crust pizza and more. “I’ve been overweight since childhood and always felt deprived when dieting — until now.”

Jean lost 100 pounds in about a year. By then, her edema and arthritis improved so much, “I walked 100 miles to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.” Jean ultimately took 14 inches off her waist, 19 inches off her hips and is down 167 pounds from her highest weight. Her dad couldn’t be more proud!

How to use cheese for weight loss

Dairy foods can boost results on any healthy eating plan, but here’s a simple options to try: Just download a free tracking app for your phone (like Lose It!) and use it to ensure your portion sizes and overall nutrient intake are on point as you aim for 3 to 4 daily servings of milk, yogurt and/or cheese. We’ve got great ideas to inspire you below. You can also find more at and

Cottage cheese power toast

Turbocharge avocado toast with protein by adding an egg and a thick layer of cottage cheese mixed with your favorite herbs.

Hello spring feta salad

Toss spring greens, sliced strawberries, steamed asparagus with olive oil, vinegar and seasonings; top with feta and toasted almonds

Shortcut ricotta mousse

For a quick dessert or snack, whip 1/2 cup ricotta, 2 tsp. cocoa and allulose or any healthy sweetener to taste.

Bonus recipe: Easy no-drain protein mac

Plate of macaroni and cheese as part of a cheese for weight loss diet plan

This viral ultra-easy recipe is ready in a flash and is absolutely delish


  • 3 cups (12 oz.) protein pasta, such as Barilla brand
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. dry ground mustard, optional
  • 12 oz. grated Cheddar cheese


  1. In medium pan, add pasta, pinch salt and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Continue stirring until water is mostly absorbed, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add cheese; stir continuously for two minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

Click through for more foods helping women achieve their weight and health goals:

This Surprise Egg Twist Is Helping Women Over 50 Drop 100+ lbs — Top MD Calls It “Critical” for Losing Weight

Weight Loss Success: “I Lost 217 lbs Using This Everyday Snack to Turn Off Cravings”

Protein Bread for Weight Loss: “Here’s the Recipe That Helped Me Drop 70 lbs at Age 69”

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.