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In the nutrition world, dairy is one of those highly-discussed topics. Like the carbohydrate controversy, there are so many conflicting answers and theories about the consumption of dairy and it’s positive or negative affect on weight gain. My personal opinion is that it really depends on the type of dairy food or beverage one is eating or drinking.
There is no question that dairy with added sugars such as ice cream and flavored yogurts should be avoided as it’s confirmed nutrition science that sugar turns into fat if not burned. However, the different types of sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose etc.) are structured in different ways, resulting in different blood sugar effects.
Lactose, the natural sugar found in milk has conflicting research regarding how it affects our blood sugar levels. Lactose can, in fact, raise blood glucose levels, however, some nutritionists argue that lactose converts to blood glucose relatively slowly due to the fact that the enzyme lactase slowly splits up glucose into galactose, leading to a slower glycemic response. Other nutrition and medical professionals say that even though dairy has a lower glycemic index ranking, it still stimulates insulin as if it had a high glycemic index ranking. This is due to the combination of milk’s amino acids found in whey proteins with the lactose. This combination leads some doctors to say that milk’s insulin response is actually extreme and should be avoided if one is looking for optimal blood sugar levels.
With that said, higher amounts of lactose can possibly negatively affect weight and blood sugar levels, so at 12 grams of sugar (coming from lactose) per glass of milk, I advise not to make a milk a primary beverage. If you like dairy foods and want to consume them, here is a list of my top recommended selections based on low-sugar content.
Sliced cheese: Zero grams of sugar per serving
Shredded cheese: Less than one gram of sugar per serving
Cream cheese: Less than one gram of sugar per serving
Cottage cheese: Four grams of sugar per serving
Plain Greek yogurt: Five grams of sugar per serving
Unless you have a lactose intolerance, I believe it is perfectly fine to make these low-sugar selections of dairy as a part of your nutrition plan in moderation, meaning one to two servings per day. The protein and fat content in these foods will help to keep you fuller for longer and will actually assist with blood sugar level stabilization, which in turn, helps you to lose weight. If you’re a little confused as to why I just correlated the dairy and fat consumption with weight loss, I’ll clarify. Back in the 1960s, Harvard scientists were paid by the sugar industry to minimize the link between heart disease and sugar. They had to name a new supposed culprit to take sugar’s place and the scapegoat was fat. Unfortunately this faulty, money-based science has been the foundation for a variety of nutrition guidelines throughout the past five decades and has led the masses down a path of falsehoods when considering sugar, carbohydrate, and fat intake in their daily nutrition regimens. The new consensus is that fat consumption (especially healthy fats) can actually assist with weight loss and type II diabetes.
As previously mentioned, there are so many conflicting theories when it comes to dairy, carbohydrates, and nutrition in general. If you’re tired of trying to sort through the information in order to formulate the best nutrition plan for you, leave the work up to us. Check out our structured meal plans here and if you need anything specifically tailored to meet your food preferences, aversions, or allergies, schedule your complimentary nutrition consultation here.