By: Alissa Carpio
Many bodybuilders and fitness
enthusiasts shy away from the consumption of dairy products, falsely
deeming them counterproductive to their lifestyle goals.
I once felt that dairy products could
not be a part of my lifestyle as a fitness and figure competitor. But
the more I thought about it, I couldn't provide a tangible reason as to
why, so I decided to take the matter into my own hands and do my own
research and education.
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Dairy Can Be Your New Wonder Food.
Since then, I've found the benefits of
dairy, and these products have remained a staple in my diet both on and
off season. I'm writing this article to dispel many of those common
myths about the negative effects of dairy.
I'm here to tell you that dairy can be
your new wonder food if you know how to make it a part of your
nutrition plan. So read on to learn the truth behind this great food!
What Exactly Is Dairy?
Dairy products include milk or those products derived from milk. The list also consists of:
- Ice cream
If you don't know it by now, milk is an incredible source of protein, vitamins and nutrients essential to everyone's dietary needs, but even more so a bodybuilder's.
Milk's unique protein profile is comprised of about 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein. The benefits of whey
have been discussed for years in the bodybuilding industry. Suffice to
say that whey is only second to whole egg protein in quality and
digestibility, making it a top choice for supplementation by many
Casein protein has a lower quality
rating, but its slow and even digestibility make it the perfect balance
to whey. Since whey is quickly digested and used up by the body, casein
is there to keep the body in a positive nitrogen balance and to slowly
"feed" your muscles over a period of several hours.
This makes whey and casein a great
combination! Because this is such a great combination, many supplement
companies have formulated powders that are blends of whey and casein.
Why pay so much for a formulated protein if you can buy it at the grocery store?!
Milk protein also has a higher BCAA value than soy or egg protein.
Other essential nutrients found in milk include calcium, potassium, and Vitamins B2, B12, D, K, and A. Low-fat milk even contains the fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Myths & Facts About Dairy
[ Myth ] The fat in dairy will make me fat!
Choosing low or nonfat dairy products eliminates the higher fat content
found in the full-fat version of the product, while retaining all
vitamins and nutrients the product has to offer.
Dairy's essential fatty acids
are necessary in one's diet to regulate metabolism and fat loss and
keep skin, hair and nails healthy and shiny.
The key with any higher fat product is
portion control. Nuts and peanut butter are excellent sources of fat
found in most bodybuilders' diets.
They are high in fat, so the portions
consumed must be controlled. This is the same case with full-fat dairy,
but if you opt for the low or nonfat version, it's not even an issue at
[ Myth ] Dairy products like yogurt and milk contain too much sugar for my diet.
While too much sugar intake can be detrimental to a bodybuilder's
goals, the small amount of lactose (sugar) in one serving of milk will
not affect your weight loss efforts.
The sugars one needs to limit on
a cutting diet are those coming from simple sugars and processed
carbohydrates, and event then the amount of sugar taken in is a large
factor in this.
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As for yogurt, the sugars in this cultured
product are eaten by the live cultures as the product sits on the shelf
or in your fridge, so that by the time you consume them, you are eating
little to no sugar.
[ Myth ] I can't eat anything "processed" in my diet or I won't lose body fat.
I hear people say this all the time, but do they really know what it
means? I mean, protein powders are "processed" foods and 99% of these
same fitness enthusiasts are taking in powders!
The processed foods you should
avoid are those that have been treated in a way that removes their
nutritional value, adds in unhealthy, unnatural ingredients to prolong
shelf life, or cause the product to be digested quickly by the body,
resulting in blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Dairy does none of these, and in my opinion is as healthy a processed food as protein powders.
A legitimate argument against dairy is
that of lactose intolerance. There are easy ways around this problem.
Lactose intolerance is the body's inability to produce lactase, the
enzyme which digests lactose (the sugar found in dairy products).
Symptoms include cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. So your options are
to either avoid lactose or to enable your body to digest it.
To avoid lactose, you can choose a variety of low-lactose or lactose-free dairy products, most of which are available at your regular grocery store.
If you're getting your milk protein from
powdered supplements, choosing milk isolate will ensure you are getting
just the protein from the milk without the lactose.
For your body to digest the lactose,
it needs lactase. Lactase enzymes are available in supplement form
(pill or liquid) and can be taken before the first bite of diary food
to assist in digestion and prevent symptoms from occurring.
Another choice is to supplement the body
with optiflora, the good bacteria that aids in food digestion and also
eliminates the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance and many
other digestive problems.
A common problem that I hear from
many competitors is that once they remove dairy from their diets (for
instance, pre-contest), they cannot reintroduce them back in without
the digestion problems and symptoms of lactose intolerance. This is a
prime example of the optiflora (good bacteria) no longer living in
They obviously aren't lactose intolerant
if they could digest dairy just a few months before. All these people
have to do is supplement with this good bacteria; they can instantly
resolve the digestion issues associated with dairy consumption.
Recommendations For Usage.
So now that you know the many benefits
of dairy, facts dispelling common myths, and how to treat lactose
intolerance, you are ready to add dairy to your diet plan. But when
should you eat it, in what amounts, and what else should you consume it
with for a balanced meal or snack?
Here are several recommendations on how you can easily add dairy to your diet. And the best part - you don't have to cook!
*There are two
recommendations for serving size. The first is for women or those
wishing to reduce body fat. The second is for those wishing to gain
lean muscle, strength, and/or fuel performance.
Visit these websites for more information on dairy: