Dairy for Athletes: Friend or Foe

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05/31/2005| 0 comments
by Kathy Zawadzki

Dairy for Athletes: Friend or Foe

Some love it, others can't stand it. Do dairy products make good fuel for athletes?

cheeses such as American, Swiss and Cheddar contain 100-120 calories per 1-ounce serving, and pack a whopping 9 grams of fat, with 6 of those classified as the artery clogging saturated fats. Softer cheeses, like goat cheese, or low-fat cheeses will save you calories and 4-6 grams of saturated fat (per 1-ounce serving). Also be careful to limit other high fat dairy products such as ice cream, buttermilk & cream.


Calcium and weight loss

A growing body of research shows that when cutting calories to lose weight, including 3 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day helps people burn more fat and lose more weight than just cutting calories alone. Previous studies have shown that calcium can boost weight loss by increasing fat breakdown in fat cells. But experts say new research suggests that taking in calcium from dairy products may actually improve on those effects.   The mix of nutrients found in dairy foods, especially calcium may be responsible for helping the body break down and burn fat.


One review of recent research concluded that dietary calcium may play an important role in the regulation of energy metabolism and may result in a decrease in body fat and a faster weight and fat loss during times of cutting calories. This review also concluded that dairy sources of calcium demonstrate substantially greater effects than supplements or fortified sources.


Although much of the research has been conducted on obese individuals, a small study conducted at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center looked at 35 non-obese, healthy adults.   Their results showed that a higher dietary calcium intake over a 24-hour period was associated with burning significantly more body fat during sleep and, to a lesser extent, during light physical activity.


One important factor to remember is that calories still count.   The research in no way suggests that you can have free reign on any and all dairy products.   It is important to choose low-fat, or non-fat versions of your favorite dairy foods to limit caloric and fat intake.  


The ?other? side

In addition to dairy supporters, there are also critics of the dairy councils ?push? on their products.   Although it is true that there are many nutritional benefits for athletes to consume dairy products, there could also be a few drawbacks.   The biggest concern is related to the addition of Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) that is injected into dairy cows to increase milk yield.   This hormone has been cited as questionable for human consumption.   In addition, some dairy farmers treat their cows with antibiotics.   These drugs stay in the milk until consumed.   Recently, the World Health Organization showed their concern by stating the overuse of antibiotics in beef and milk presents a ?growing risk to human health and should be reduced.?


One possible solution to this situation could be to only consume organic dairy products.   Although more expensive, organic dairy products come from cows that are not injected with any hormones or antibiotics.   Studies

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