Feb 10 2017

Should You Tolerate Milk?

Dairy products are everywhere – milk, cheese, yoghurt even most protein powders are made from milk proteins (whey and casein). As a kid I remember always being told that drinking milk will help me grow up to be big and strong! But is it actually good for you. There is…

Dairy products are everywhere – milk, cheese, yoghurt even most protein powders are made from milk proteins (whey and casein).

As a kid I remember always being told that drinking milk will help me grow up to be big and strong! But is it actually good for you. There is so much conflicting information out there it can be hard to work out if milk is the right choice for you?

Are you tolerant to milk?

Lactose intolerance is very common, 3 in 4 people have some degree of intolerance to milk and dairy products but most are totally unaware.

Some of us live with the effects for long periods before even realising dairy is the problem! I have a small intolerance but it took me years to work it what was happening to me wasn’t normal!

I would guzzle down protein shakes, feel bloated and proudly let off ‘protein farts’ for hours after! It turns out that the protein farts weren’t because I was eating lots of protein, but because my body couldn’t handle all the lactose I was consuming!

It happens because we don’t have enough lactase enzyme activity in our digestive tracts. This leaves undigested lactose from the dairy products we consume to pass through our stomachs and go into the intestines where it is left to ferment!

This process causes lots of gas to be formed. From that we feel lethargic, get bloated,  have stomach cramps and of course most of the time end up with flatulence!

Our level of tolerance is inherited and usually varies due to ethnicity. For some half a glass of milk may be enough to set you off for others it can take more.

I know a glass of milk or a flat white is okay for me but 2 scoops of whey protein in a shake or a large latte will mess me up, I’ll be bloated and farting for a good few hours. My girlfriend loves it…

Poorly digested lactose also affects the digestion and absorption of the rest of the drink or meal you consume. So downing a glass of milk with a meal will reduce how much of the good stuff – like protein, vitamins and minerals – your body actually takes in. This can have a negative affect on how you feel and how quickly and easily you can reach your goals!

If the stomach issues weren’t enough, some people’s intolerance to milk and milk proteins like whey and casein can cause an inflammatory immune response, this causes the body to produce more mucus. More mucus means blocked noses, a phlegmy throat and headaches.

This will affect you at work, leave you feeling awful all day and probably kill your motivation to go training. It will also affect ability to recover properly, which will ruin your progress in the gym and do the exact opposite of what a protein shake is supposed to do!

If you have any of these symptoms and think you are intolerant what should you do?

Switch to almond milk! It’s just as tasty and low in calories (around 30kcal per 100ml)

Ditch the whey and casein protein powder – Aim to consume more protein from lean meats like chicken and fish or from beans and lentils. If protein powder is a convenient way to get more protein in for you; try soy, pea or rice protein powders, they are all good alternatives.

Consider mixing dairy products with non dairy products – for me a scoop of whey with oats is perfect because the fibre in the oats slows the digestion of the whey making it easier for my body to digest.

Author

James Drummond