It’s well known that dairy products, such as milk and cheese, can provide essential benefits to our overall health. Containing high percentages of calcium, protein and vitamin D, dairy aids in maintaining strong bones, a damage-free dental smile and a fresh heart. The plaguing questions and furthered ongoing debate with athletes and dieters alike is whether dairy assists or hinders your diet and workout regimen. Well…which is it? While it’s nearly impossible to decipher between the hundreds of studies conducted, papers written and online battles on this topic, there are some consistent thoughts on the advantages of adding dairy to your weight-loss or “get lean” plan (as long as you’re not lactose intolerant).

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking milk after weightlifting helps burn fat. In one study in particular, researchers at McMaster University took three groups of men ages 18 – 39 and put them in a 12-week weightlifting program. One group consumed two cups of skim milk and others drank a soy beverage or a carbohydrate beverage after each workout session. The results was that the first group burned twice as much fat as the carbohydrate beverage drinkers (soy drinkers lost none), and gained 40 percent and 63 percent more muscle than the soy and carbohydrate beverage drinkers respectively.

And what about for those of us that don’t do the rigorous heavy lifting five times a week? The Journal of American College of Nutrition says that dairy products can facilitate weight maintenance and loss by boosting your metabolism. A study published in this journal concluded that participants that ate five servings of low-fat dairy each day lost more fat, especially in their lower stomach areas, than those who consumed just three servings. The same effects were not seen in those that took calcium supplements. There are other studies that the protein content of dairy also aids in weight maintenance.

Like most everything in the world, moderation is key. Add low-fat milk, yogurt and cheeses to your balanced diet and you may witness the advantages firsthand. With that, hopefully you can enjoy your glass of milk and cookies without a guilty conscience.

What do you eat / drink after working out? Any good recipes you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

Guest Author: Fareeha Ali
Sources available upon request