the skinny on dairy

Since I’ve been more focused on a balanced diet the past few weeks, I thought I’d choose a food type that I don’t do a great job of incorporating into my diet and do some research on its benefits and when to consume it. There are plenty of foods groups I neglect but one that I used to love when I was a swimmer was dairy. Dairy is not only great for maintaining a healthy bone density, but research has shown that those who take in a healthy amount of dairy on a regular basis tend to have less body fat than those who exclude it from their diets.Of course, dairy is also a food group that people love to over indulge, so it’s important to know when and what types of dairy are healthy.

Dairy has many health benefits due to its high levels of calcium, such as maintaining bone health, increasing energy, and lowering blood pressure. When our bodies receive the proper amount of calcium, lower levels of calcitriol are released and the body is able to burn fat. However, when the body doesn’t receive the proper levels of calcium, the hormone calcitriol is produced to help preserve the calcium in the body. In the process, calcitriol reduces the rate of fat breakdown which can cause weight gain. Making sure you are getting a sufficient amount of dairy will ensure that your body is increasing its energy levels and minimizing the amount of fat storage.

Making sure your body isn’t over indulging in dairy products is also important. Your body only needs 1-2 servings of dairy per day, and generally that intake should be in the morning. Most types of dairy contains lactose, a sugar that can easily be broken down and used as energy. When dairy is digested in the morning, our body is able to convert lactose into energy which is used throughout the day. However, when we consume dairy at night, our body is unable to convert all the lactose to energy and as a result, this can be stored as fat in the body. Therefore, it’s important to make sure dairy products containing lactose are consumed earlier in the day. If you typically consume dairy in the evenings, try swapping your typical dairy for greek yogurt, which is very low in sugar and will be more easily digested at night. As for morning dairy, my go-to is a protein shake with skim milk (although 2% is an equally healthy swap if you aren’t used to the bland taste of skim!)