Dairy products and athletic performance - good or bad?
Dairy products and athletic performance - good or bad?
Milk, cheese and yoghurt have been at the centre of our diets for so long the assumption they are good, natural and healthy products goes almost without question, particularly when so many dairy industry marketing campaigns like ‘Got Milk?’ in the US and ‘Make Mine Milk’ in the UK reinforce this positive messaging. Yet for serious performance and serious health, evidence against dairy is stacking up fast, meaning that when it comes to the issue of dairy products and athletic performance, the answer is increasingly showing that dairy should be avoided.
Dairy products and athletic performance: drugs, hormones & illness
Industrially produced milk - which is 95% of the milk on the market - comes from sick animals loaded with antibiotics to keep them functional in crowded, unsanitary conditions, and hormones to keep them permanently pregnant and producing milk.
These antibiotics and hormones then end up in your milk/cheese/yoghurt. Even if you do stick with milk and dairy, this alone is reason enough to slash use make any you do consume certified organic.
Dairy products and athletic performance: links to serious disease
There have been major studies showing strong links between dairy consumption and cancer since the 1970s, with particular focus on prostate cancer. One study indicated dairy consumption can lead to a 34% increase in the likelihood of a man getting prostate cancer.
There is also a strong link between dairy and dairy foods, and incidence of autoimmune diseases, particularly arthritis with milk proteins - whether from milk, yoghurt, cheese or whey protein - being one of the biggest culprits.
Cancer and arthritis never made anyone faster, unless we’re talking about a race to the nearest hospital ward that is.
Dairy products and athletic performance: milk doesn’t build bones
Milk = healthy bones, right? After all, bones like calcium and milk has calcium. Therefore, duh, more milk means more strong bones? Logical sense for sure, but science is increasingly leaving this one in tatters.
Among the torpedoes taking this one out are a study showing increased milk consumption is linked to increased bone fractures, plus the damning evidence that the regions in the world with the highest levels of dairy consumption (North America, Northern Europe) also have the highest levels of osteoporosis, while those with the lowest dairy use (Africa, India, Japan) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
A large part of the contribution to this is the fact dairy products contains high levels of D-galactose, which in animals has been proven to accelerate ageing, chronic inflammation and decreased immune response while shortening life span.
Ditch the dairy and jump for joy as power and performance step up, while illness risks go down. Boom!
The conclusion for us is simple: cut dairy completely wherever possible, and go certified organic with it everywhere else. The risks to performance today and lifelong health tomorrow with dairy consumption just aren’t worth it. It’s also really easy to avoid - check out our tips below to make some simple shifts for your own health and performance now.
How to reduce or cut dairy consumption in five easy steps:
1 Swap all milk for milk substitutes: this covers the biggest hurdle most folks have to dropping milk in one swoop and means breakfast cereal, porridge, tea and coffee can all be sorted in seconds. Better news, all milk substitutes work brilliantly in our Pre and Post Workout Shakes.
The alternative milk sector is booming as more and more folks swap out their dairy for a better alternative so tracking down hemp, soy, almond or oat milk is now no longer a chore involving a clandestine trek to the one random health food store in 100 miles for a shady deal with a bearded bloke in sandals with a ‘creative’ approach to personal hygiene.
Nope, all you have to do now is take your pick from the supermarket shelf. Much easier.
A couple of recommendations:
- Avoid soy milk unless organic and non-GMO: soy is the most heavily genetically modified crop on the planet, non-GMO really matters here
- Go unsweetened: a lot of milk substitutes are sweetened, particularly with artifical sweeteners. Check the labels to avoid these
2 Go nuts with the blender
Look on the ingredient labels for almond milk and you’ll find the ingredients are, basically, water and almonds. If you’ve got a reasonably powered blender at home you can easily make your own almond milk by putting water and almonds in the blender, blitzing for 30 seconds and… that’s it, you’re done!
Plenty of almond milk recipes go on about straining it through cheesecloth and all manner of assorted hassle, but life is really too short for that. Go for approx 5 almonds per cup of water, blitz, pour and you’re sorted.
You do get small pieces of almond in it but this just adds to the texture in cereal/porridge and while it’s true it will look like cr*p when heated in coffee/tea it still tastes great.
If you feel really energetic you can even spin the hot tea/coffee in the blender to smooth it out - for coffee in particular this has the added benefit of creating instant frothy cappuccino.
3 But what about the cheese?
Swapping out cheese is probably the toughest challenge anyone moving away from dairy faces, but even this is getting way easier nowadays with major sandwich chains like Pret a Manger offering right tasty non-cheese vegetarian sarnies based around hummus, avocado, etc, and even mainstream restaurant chains like Pizza Express firing out non-cheese pizzas as demand booms.
The humble avocado, a rocking substitute for cheese in veggie sandwiches and snacks giving a hearty and healthy hit of calories and great fats. Mmm, hmm, tasty
4 Whey protein?
Just think of this as ‘no-whey’ protein as in ‘no way am I eating that’. Formerly a by-product of cheese production that cost the dairy industry thousands to dispose of, it was first turned into cattle feed to save disposal costs before someone worked out athletes would pay much more for it. Powdered and processed to within an inch of its life and packed with added sugars, sweeteners and other junk, this stuff is plain toxic.
Swap yours instead for great whole food sources like nuts, legumes, seeds, oats, hemp, or animal sources like quality meat and fish.
And if you are worried you’re not getting enough regular protein, remember it’s unlikely. As all whole foods contain protein, the average UK adult is already eating 74 grams daily against a recommended adult intake of 55g. When you’re training simply being conscious of needing more and focusing on whole foods that deliver just that will do the trick nine times out of ten.
For real sports nutrition that powers your performance and your health you can check out our range in store
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