Whether you’re on a diet plan to build muscle, burn fat, or simply get healthier, dairy is one food group that tends to cause quite a bit of confusion for many. Should you be eating it in your diet plan? Is it too high in fat and calories? Will it hold you back from progress? You’ve likely heard a number of mixed messages about dairy and may be feeling quite overwhelmed with information. The truth is that dairy can certainly be part of a healthy diet plan provided you are smart in your selection. Not all types of dairy are created equally, so it’ll be critical that you are able to select the right type for your dietary needs. Let’s walk you through the key dairy do’s and don’ts you should know about.
Don’t Consume Fruit Flavored Yogurt
The first do on the menu is to opt for plain yogurt whenever possible. The biggest issue with consuming yogurt tends to be all the added sugar you’ll find in most varieties that you eat. Whether you’re eating a strawberry yogurt or one of the varieties that contains fruit ‘on the bottom’, all of this translates to extra sugar that you just don’t need.
If you really want fruit flavored yogurt, simply add some fresh berries or half a sliced banana to the plain yogurt you purchase. This will add natural fruit sugar, which is a lot better for you than the normal table sugar being added to those other varieties.
And, don’t be so quick to jump on the sugar-free bandwagon either. While those won’t contain sugar, they do contain a high dose of artificial sweeteners, which aren’t natural to be taking in on a daily basis.
Do Use Cottage Cheese Often
A great alternative to yogurt when you need a fast snack on the go is lower fat cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is naturally lower in sugar content, containing only the natural milk sugar lactose and is also a very high source of protein. Plus, the protein that’s found in cottage cheese is the casein protein variety, which is very slow digesting. Eating a small bowl of cottage cheese with some fresh berries can be the perfect snack to tide your hunger over for hours. Or, simply add it on the side of your meal if you prefer, or blend it into a smoothie you happen to be making.
Cottage cheese often gets turned up at due to the texture and consistency it has, but experiment and do your best to find a way to serve this that you do actually enjoy. With a little creativity, you might be surprised what you come up with.
Don’t Turn To Fat Free Ice Cream
The next don’t on the list is to avoid turning to fat free ice cream. While this may seem like a great way to curb that sweet tooth and being lower fat in nature makes it seem more ‘diet friendly’, this just isn’t the case.
When ice cream is made to be fat free, typically this means that there is even more sugar being added to it. As ice cream is already a high sugar item, this is precisely what you do not want. Plus, with all that sugar in the ice cream, it will contain very little, if any, actual calcium. Not to mention the protein content is almost non-existent.
Do Look For Reduced Fat Cheese Varieties
This said, not all reduced fat dairy is bad news. Reduced fat cheese can be a great option for your diet plan. Cheese is another good source of protein as far as dairy is concerned and will also offer a strong dose of calcium as well. As regular cheese is quite high in saturated fat however, going for a reduced fat variety is a smart move. Here, rather than having added sugar to replace the fat, you’ll find that the lower fat types contain more protein, so it’s really a win-win.
Cheese can easily be added to a number of dishes that you’re preparing, so it’s an easy way to give your diet a calcium boost. It’s also kid-friendly, so great for those kids who tend to be picky eaters. Most will relish the idea of adding cheese to their dishes.
Don’t Use Flavored Creamers
The next don’t is to avoid flavored creamers for your coffee. If you must have a creamer, opt for a regular plain one. While it won’t provide you with much calcium in the first place, the regular creamer won’t be loaded with sugar and artificial flavors like the flavored varieties are.
Just be sure as you use your creamer, you limit yourself to just one or two tablespoons at most to keep the calorie and fat content of your coffee down. A better option here would be 2% milk which will still add the creamy taste but without as much fat.
Do Swap Sour Cream For Greek Yogurt
Finally, last but not least, consider swapping out sour cream for Greek yogurt whenever you can. For instance, if you are preparing a dip that calls for sour cream, Greek yogurt can very often be used in its place. It’ll give you that slightly sour tangy taste that you’re looking for with far less fat and far more protein. .
Just like with the above note on yogurt however, just be sure whatever Greek yogurt variety you are purchasing is a plain, lower sugar variety. The fruit flavored Greek yogurt can be just as high in sugar as the regular yogurt types.
So keep these do’s and don’ts in mind as you add dairy into your diet plan. Don’t shun dairy – when you choose the right varieties, it’ll provide a good source of quality protein as well as calcium. Plus, for those who don’t eat meat, it can be a significant part of getting your protein needs met.
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