Why is Dairy So Good for You?

Guest blogger Glenys Zucco from Dairy Australia is an accredited sports dietitian and new mum who loves staying active and always has yoghurt in her fridge (or bowl…). She explains why dairy products are so good for us – and how they can actually help us lose weight.

We all strive for the golden duo: reaching the ideal weight for our body type and then maintaining that weight … forever. (Gulp!) I know that a lot of women struggle with long-term weight management. The challenge lies in achieving and sustaining a healthy muscle mass, which is integral to managing and maintaining your weight. Maintaining lean muscle keeps the metabolism firing and burning calories at a good and steady pace. That’s the dream, right? In that case, it’s time to head for the fridge, because it contains things that will help with the challenge.

Dairy Helps With Weight Loss

So which foods are the best for building muscle and fat loss? Well, many of us already know that dairy is an excellent choice for increasing healthy muscle mass. But you may not know that at least three serves of dairy a day, as part of a reduced-calorie diet, can actually improve weight loss, reduce body fat and decrease your waist circumference.

How on earth is this possible?

  • Protein plays an important role in weight loss, and it helps repair, rebuild and maintain lean muscle.
  • Calcium from dairy can actually reduce the amount of dietary fat absorbed by the body.
  • Some studies suggest dairy foods can reduce feelings of hunger.

How Much Dairy do we Need?

But I have a sneaking suspicion that Australian women aren’t hearing these messages. Nine out of ten Australian women aren’t getting enough milk, cheese and yoghurt in their diet. This means that women aged from 19 to 50 are getting fewer than the recommended 2.5 serves a day, and women over 50 are getting fewer than 4 serves, in case you were wondering.

When I discovered these statistics I asked myself why this would be, and in my opinion, the reason that women are not consuming enough milk, cheese and yoghurt in their diet still comes down to one main thought: the fear of weight gain.

Well, rest assured – the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) looked into the relationship between weight and eating milk, yoghurt or cheese, and it found no link between dairy and weight gain or risk of obesity in adults.

That’s fantastic news for me as I’m halfway through my smoothie, and I’m showing no signs of slowing down.

And if you’re trying to lose weight through a calorie-controlled diet, clinical studies show that including three to four serves of dairy foods can help accelerate loss of weight and body fat, improve muscle retention and reduce waistlines.

Which Dairy Foods to Choose?

So which dairy products should you choose? According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, both regular-fat and reduced-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt comprise one of the five food groups that make up a healthy, balanced diet. That includes flavoured and unflavoured yoghurts, skim milk to regular-fat milk and all types of cheese. Just choose the variety that you and your family enjoy! (Personally, I’m a low-fat milk, natural yoghurt, triple-cream brie kinda girl.)

And may I just add that the combination of proteins and carbohydrates in nutrient-rich dairy foods helps maximise recovery and muscle gains after resistance training – not to mention the fact that milk and flavoured milk have been shown to help you rehydrate just as well (or even better!) than sports drinks.

So get out there and train your heart out, knowing that you can indulge in a post-workout smoothie that’s ticking all the boxes to help you look and feel great.

The 12WBT Meal Plans are put together by a team of expert dietitians and nutritionists, providing a huge array of options and alternatives for different lifestyles and food requirements – including dairy!

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