The Moo Myth: Calcium on the FMD

Close up of cows in field looking at camera. 

The Moo Myth: Calcium on the FMD 

“If I don’t drink milk or consume dairy products, how can I get enough calcium?” This is a question I get a lot from those doing the Fast Metabolism Diet. Dairy just isn’t right if you’re trying to repair your metabolism, but isn’t dairy crucial for calcium? The answer will surprise you.

On the Fast Metabolism Diet, you can choose from many milk alternatives. But if you’re repairing your metabolism, dairy products aren’t going to help you. Their sugar-fat-protein ratio just isn’t right. The lactose (milk sugar) is absorbed into the bloodstream way too fast while the animal-based fat ratio is too high. And fat-free dairy is even worse, as it aggressively slows the metabolism of fats. So for 28-days, dairy is off the table. But where are we going to get calcium? We’ll get it from the very best source, and it isn’t dairy: It’s calcium-rich foods.

Modern Milk Contains Little Bio-Available Calcium

Most of us were raised to think that milk is the very best source of calcium available. That might be true of raw milk. But the milk you buy in the supermarket today has been pasteurized and homogenized, two processes that increase shelf life and safety, but destroy nutrition.

Pasteurization involves cooking milk to kill potentially harmful bacteria from sick cows. It makes our milk supply safe to drink, but it also kills good enzymes and helpful bacteria too. The heating process damages the proteins in milk, making them harder to digest. And at the same time, it renders much of the calcium in milk insoluble, meaning your body can’t absorb or process much of it. Homogenization also alters the nutritional value of milk. This process shakes milk vigorously to break up the natural fat particles in milk so that fat remains distributed in milk rather than floating to the top, as it would naturally do. Homogenization reduces the size of the fat particles, making them more easily absorbed into the bloodstream and less likely to be digested. Instead, they’re more likely to be stored as fat.

Calcium is Only One Part of Bone Health

Your bone matrix is comprised primarily of protein, for example, not calcium. Zinc, vitamin D, magnesium and other nutrients also play a role, helping the body absorb and process calcium. So bone density isn’t a calcium issue — it’s a complex macro- and micro-nutrient issue.

Factors that inhibit calcium absorption include too much acidity in the body. Foods like caffeine, enriched wheat flour, and refined sugar, along with the lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet can increase the body’s acidity. Too much acidity leaches calcium from bone — and that can contribute to osteoporosis. That’s why the Fast Metabolism Diet aims to balance pH in the body with the right combination of alkaline and acidic foods to keep the body prepped to receive and utilize dietary calcium. If your body isn’t in a state to process calcium, it doesn’t matter how much calcium you take in the form of a supplement — your body simply won’t be able to absorb it.

Many Foods Are Excellent Sources of Calcium

Calcium is present in so many foods, and that calcium is more easily absorbed by the body because these foods also contain a rich mix of other nutrients too. You’re probably already eating — rather than drinking — more calcium than you realize. Another way to enhance calcium absorption is to add Himalayan salt or Celtic salt to foods after they’ve cooked (cooking degrades their micro-nutrients). The current calcium recommendation for adults is 1,000 mg (teens, pregnant woman and the elderly should have more), so let’s see which calcium-rich foods can get you there.

A 3 1/2 cup raw kale salad provides the same 300 mg of calcium that a cup of milk does, but the calcium from kale is more bioavailable than the calcium from pasteurized milk. You can eat kale on every phase of the Fast Metabolism Diet.

A single navel orange has 60 mg of natural calcium. Add one to your morning smoothie in Phase 1, or as your fruit snack.

Sardines are another food you can have on any phase of the diet. And get this: Just three ounces of sardines (with bones) packs almost 400 mg of dietary calcium. Have them for one of your Phase 2 snacks, and you’re almost halfway to your 1,000 mg calcium goal.

Canned salmon, on Phase 3 of the diet, is another calcium winner, with almost 400 mg of calcium in a 6-oz. serving (eat the bones too — they’re soft and edible).

You’ll get 112 mg of calcium in a 6-oz. serving of halibut. Try this recipe for baked fish with lemon for Phase 2.

Sesame Seeds
These tiny seeds are surprisingly calcium rich. Just one ounce — about 3 tablespoons — contain 280 mg of calcium. Sprinkle them on your Phase 3 salads and stir-fries.

Raw Almonds
Good old almonds are an amazing source of healthy fat and protein. Twenty of them — about 1/4 cup — also contains about 80 mg of calcium.

Surprise! Just 1/2 cup of white beans, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans or pinto beans also donates 60 mg of calcium to your daily quota.

This peppery salad green provides 125 mg of calcium in a one-cup serving. A four-cup salad would contain 500 mg. You can enjoy arugula on any phase of the diet.

You already know broccoli is good for you, but just one cup has 180 mg of calcium. Add a couple of cups to a salad or omelet on Phases 1 and 2.

After the Fast Metabolism Diet

You may choose to re-incorporate some dairy back into your diet after your 28 days are complete. If you do, goat’s milk, cheese, and yogurt, along with sheep’s milk products are better choices than cow’s milk. These seem to be more easily digestible than cow’s milk, and both have more calcium per cup than cow’s milk. However, most commercial sheep and goats milk are also pasteurized, so share the same calcium absorption issues as pasteurized milk.

Bottom line: You just don’t need to lean on milk and dairy when it comes to getting enough calcium. As always, consult with your physician on the right amount of calcium for your needs.

You can also consider taking a clean multivitamin like Metabolism Multi. You’ll notice it does not contain much supplemental calcium. Rather, it’s designed to enhance the body’s ability to absorb the calcium in food by leveling the playing field of micro-nutrients.