There are many niggling rumours about dairy being linked to weight gain. So it’s time to debunk them!
The short version of the story is that dairy IS good for you! Surprise, surprise: all the stories we were told as children about the benefits of drinking our milk to help us grow big and strong were all completely accurate.
The link between dairy and weight loss
There is no link between dairy consumption and weight gain. In fact, for people looking to lose weight, research shows that including three to four serves of dairy in a reduced-kilojoule diet can actually help accelerate weight and fat loss, particularly from the stomach area. This is likely because calcium can reduce the amount of dietary fat absorbed by the body, and studies suggest dairy may reduce feelings of hunger. It seems, however, women are still having trouble getting their recommended daily intake of dairy.
With this in mind, here are some of the different ways we can add more dairy into our diet, so we can all enjoy the health benefits AND the weight-loss edge that dairy foods provide.
Also read: The Skinny on Low-Carb Diets
When’s the best time to eat dairy?
Most Australians have plenty of protein in their diet overall, but thanks to our meat-and-three-veg mentality, much of this protein comes at dinner time. Timing our protein intake to achieve bursts of protein a few times throughout the day is a much better strategy, because it stimulates muscle development and repair multiple times each day. The key is to start spreading the protein balance throughout daily meals to take advantage of this.
To hit the right threshold, we only need about 25g of protein in a meal to kickstart muscle protein synthesis, and dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are the perfect way to achieve this amount. Let’s take a look at those meals that could probably do with a protein makeover, and some easy ideas to help your favourite dairy products work even harder to build strong, healthy, metabolism-boosting muscles.
Dairy-filled breakfast ideas
Breakfast is a golden opportunity to start your day with extra dairy and protein. But somehow the older we get, the more we seem to skip breakfast or opt for an ‘on the go’ option – be it an apple in the car, or the dreaded bacon and egg muffin! Breakfast should be a celebration, a considered approach to start your day and provide fuel to keep us going thereafter.
Breakkie can still be quick and easy! Adding yogurt to muesli is a great way to combine the slow release energy and fibre of muesli, and the calcium and protein of yoghurt. If you are a coffee drinker, try starting the day with a latte or cappuccino. A milky coffee provides your morning jolt of caffeine along with a healthy dose of essential vitamins, minerals and protein. And for those of you convinced you don’t have time for breakfast, the excuse no longer applies when you consider a delicious, nutritious milk smoothie takes all of five minutes to prepare and can be enjoyed on the go. Need inspiration? Check out our endless – and tasty – smoothie combinations, here:
Breakfast Smoothie (292 calories)
Strawberry Basil Protein Recovery Smoothie (392 calories)
Pack a protein-based lunch
Lunch is critical for fuelling our bodies and getting them ready for the afternoon ahead. It’s also a great excuse to step away from the desk and our workloads, get out of the office or house, and get moving. As we know, all of the best foods can be found away from our desk drawers and out in the real world. Adding some extra protein and calcium to your lunchtime fare is relatively simple, too. Salads with lean meats and a yoghurt-based dressing can be both filling and nutritious.
If something quick and mobile is more your speed, then adding a good cheese to a lunchtime sandwich or roll can help balance out the dietary equation. More of a planner? Here’s some great lunchtime recipes perfect for preparing the night before:
Roasted Chicken, Vegetable and Risoni Salad (383 calories)
The window of time immediately after a workout is also an important opportunity to have a source of protein, as this will help maximise the muscle repair and rebuilding process. It’s important to have some carbohydrates along with protein. As well as helping you refuel, carbohydrates help amino acids (the building blocks of protein) make their way into muscles where required.
If it’s mealtime, a balanced meal with a good source of protein and some carbs will do the trick. But if your next meal is a couple of hours away, take advantage of this recovery period by having a snack containing the right combination of nutrients, like:
- Fruit salad with yogurt
- Baked beans and cheese on toast
- Breakfast cereal with milk
- Bread roll with cheese or meat filling and a piece of fruit
Want more great dairy snack ideas?
These Greek Yoghurt recipes that put a new spin on this traditional snack.
For more tips and delicious high-protein recipes, order your free copy of Powering Active Adults at Dairy Australia.