Gain Mass

Your Complete Guide to Dairy

Nutritionists have argued the pros and cons of dairy products for years, but it's time to set the record straight: Bodybuilders should make dairy a part of their daily diets. Here's why, and how.

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Yogurt

One of the oldest and most universal food products, yogurt starts out as milk that has bacteria added to it. Those bacteria begin to eat the lactose (the sugar found in milk) and excrete lactic acid, causing the milk to thicken and acquire yogurt's tangy flavor.

Protein Packed?

Some nutritionists recommend yogurt as a good protein source. But since 8 ounces of yogurt contains only 12 grams of protein, you'd have to choke down (and we do mean choke) three 8-ounce servings for a muscle-building 36 grams. An easier solution? Add a scoop or two of your favorite whey protein to a cup of yogurt. Just watch the fat content if you're eating it pre- or postworkout.

Probiotic Punch

In the United States, yogurt must contain two different types of bacteria—lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus—to earn the probiotic label. Often, other types of bacteria are added because they're good for you.

It seems counterintuitive, but your intestines not only support but rely on the presence of a slew of bacteria to absorb nutrients from your food. Some data suggest that eating foods containing these helpful bacteria can improve the makeup of your gut flora. Although research is ongoing, there's evidence that having an appropriate amount and variety of intestinal bacteria is linked to everything from reducing the risk of colon cancer to improving immunity and lowering cholesterol. Most important for you, this can aid digestive health, which means you'll better absorb critical nutrients such as amino acids.

Fruit Fact

Because yogurt can be sour, it's often sweetened through the addition of fruit and sugar, which makes carbohydrate levels skyrocket. Make sure to read the label on any fruit yogurt before you start spooning it in. Or just keep your consumption of fatfree fruit yogurts to immediately after workouts when you need the carbs to replenish your depleted muscles.

That's the word on dairy, M&F-style. Take it all in, and the next time that ubiquitous ad asks you, "Got milk?" you can answer with a resounding yes. Your muscles will thank you. 

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