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Are You Avoiding Dairy For The Wrong Reasons?

Feb 09, 2023

Dairy has got such a bad rep. Put your hand up if you avoid dairy.

It’s common for me to hear of athletes who avoid dairy.

There may be a clinical reason why you don’t tolerate dairy – a milk protein intolerance for example, which typically is diagnosed when you’re a baby. But unless you have an intolerance to dairy, you shouldn’t avoid it - it’s actually a really nutritious food.

  • Milk is a great source of protein, carbohydrate and there is no added sugar in milk - unless you’re drinking chocolate milk!
  • Milk is also a great source of calcium and other micro nutrients

Problems occur when you avoid dairy and use substitute milk alternatives – they are heavily processed, often don’t contain much protein, have added sugar, and no calcium unless fortified. Basically, expensive water.

So ask the question – are you actually intolerant to dairy, or are you avoiding it for the wrong reasons?

You might actually be lactose intolerant – undiagnosed – don’t tolerate normal milk.

60-70% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant to some degree!


What is Lactose Intolerance?

Reduced ability to digest lactose – the main sugar found in milk

  • reduction or no production of lactase enzyme
  • stomach doesn’t produce enough lactase enzyme  
  • Lactase pulls the disaccharide of lactose
  • Disaccharide – 2 units – glucose + galactose
  • Lactase’s role is to split these 2 molecules in the small intestine so we can absorb it


Signs and symptoms

  • Digestive issues caused by intestinal bacteria consuming the undigested lactose – field day down there
  • Severity varies
  • Gas, flatulence - stinks, bloating, tummy rumbles
  • Diarrhoea – urgency
  • Pain
  • Nausea 


How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?

  • Lactose breath test
  • Coeliac – microvilli of the small intestines are damaged, short term lactose intolerance – resolved when gut heals on gluten free diet
  • Parasites and gut bugs – often leads to lactose intolerance – treat the underlying issues and resolves 



  • Take lactase enzyme – can find at the chemist – first hand helps but doesn’t cover it completely 
  • Avoid lactose in dairy – lactose free milk, yoghurt, hard cheese
  • If you can’t avoid it, save you hard earned $$ when it comes to milk alternatives – crap loads these days – almond, oat, macadamia, hemp 
  • If you don’t tolerate dairy – best choice is an unsweetened soy milk that has enough calcium in it – something we talk about in detail in Phase 1 of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy 
  • B. animalis had the best evidence for reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance (ref 1) – systematic review of 15 randomised, double blind studies – excellent quality of research 


I’d encourage you question all the BS you see and read online. If you have been avoiding dairy unnecessarily, try reintroducing it back into your life.

  • Go slowly – try lactose free milk instead
  • Small volume 100ml – give your body some time to produce lactase again before you go smashing gallons of the stuff

Dive a little bit deeper into what you're doing and see if there's a way that you can move forwards to still give you the best bang for your buck out of all the foods that you're putting into your high performance engine on a day to day basis.


To dive deeper, listen to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy Podcast, EP 80 - Are You Avoiding Dairy For The Wrong Reasons?  


If you are interested in learning more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy Program and what it can do for you, head HERE to join the waitlist for our next opening.



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