Dairy | Does it have a place in bodybuilding?

Bob Kupniewski September 9, 2014 Nutrition Articles

Dairy, one of the most overlooked food sources in most individuals diets. It surmounts a great deal of debate regarding should I or should I not consume it? Well I am going to tell you today why you should be including dairy in your daily diet and the multiple benefits it does hold. There will be those on the other hand who simply cannot digest dairy products and therefore should supplement what they cannot get from these sources (i.e. multiple vitamins, minerals, and other supplements that provide the same nutrients as dairy products).

Most individuals who are in pre-contest dieting may fear adding dairy products due to the common saying “Dairy food will make me fat” or “Dairy will make me hold excess water weight” or “Dairy should be cut at X amount of weeks out because it may interfere with my progress”. While some of those may hold true (again based off the individual and how different sources affect their body) for the majority this will not be the case.

How can we claim dairy as a major suspect towards negative side effects?

Easy, trial and error! Try incorporating some dairy into your diet such as Skim Milk, Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Low fat Cream Cheese or Ricotta Cheese and see how you feel and the effects it does have on your body. Those who cannot take dairy products or who may be lactose intolerant will show signs of severe gas, cramping, bloating (which will be very visible in the mirror), and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance has to deal with the bodies inability to produce lactase, the enzyme which helps break down or digest lactose (containing the sugars in dairy products).

What would be a good way to try and include dairy with lactose problems?

There are multiple brands out there that supply lactose free products such as cottage cheese and milk (lactaid will ring a bell). Check out the organic section because that is where you will find most of those products. Another option is to invest in an isolate protein powder that will contain little to no lactose involved in the manufacturing and will settle very easy on your stomach

Mooo-re about dairy… get it

Lets move into more about dairy, what it is, and some common myths that I want to cover in this article to shed some information regarding dairy and its benefits to the human body. Dairy is a different source of protein (mostly casein) which is a slower digesting protein source. Whey protein (which is utilized in most powders) is a faster digesting protein source that may only take a few hours to breakdown and be utilized. Casein on the other hand has the slow-digesting features that may be held in the stomach for up to 6+ hours long! Due to the fact casein takes a long time to digest this is an optimal source of protein to eat prior to bed and the overnight fast.  The benefit of doing so is staying in a positive nitrogen balance and slowly feeding your muscle.

What sources could we utilize to incorporate dairy into our diets?

That is simple, take a walk through your grocery store towards the dairy section and there will be a limited supply of good choices you could include. Some of my personal favorites are, Frozen Yogurt (I enjoy some moderation on my refeed days which is very low fat and a good amount of carbs), low-fat butter (I use in baking recipes), Low Fat or Fat Free Cream Cheese (I like to mix with Greek yogurt and protein powder to form a thick sludge/protein pudding mixture), Greek Yogurt or Low-Fat Yogurt, Low Fat or Fat Free Cheese (goes very well onto eggs, chicken, or in strifry’s)

Now that we understand the sources we can utilize in our diets the benefits they offer are multiple nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamins B2, B12, D, K, and A. Low-Fat Milk contains CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) as well which could save bodybuilders a chunk of change who like to spend the money on capsules to supplement that fatty acid in their diet.


Many people will still claim after understanding a few facts about dairy that dairy will make them “Fat”. Fat is subjective because you can only become fat through excess calories and a caloric surplus over time (also known as bulking). If you want to eliminate some calories to help foods fit into your caloric allotment then choose lower-fat or fat free options that you can buy in the grocery store. For those who utilize a higher fat diet and lower carb approach you can still use full-fat dairy products because of their overall fat macro allotment to reach in a given day. Neither are bad, they are both great sources regardless of what amount of fat you get in your dairy products, but you should still strive to get adequate omega 3’s and 6’s on a daily basis through food and supplementation (Fish-Oil Capsules).

Milk sugar misconceptions

Another myth many bodybuilders see thrown around is “Milk or Dairy contains a lot of sugar, this is not beneficial to me at all.” Again this is something that you may read on the label but you have to remember most of the sugars found in dairy are those from cultured products and lactose, which is beneficial. Dairy has been shown through multiple studies and researches that it helps increase fat loss instead of what many believe is that is halts fat loss. To exclude dairy is only a personal decision, but there is so much research and evidence out there (even on Pub-Med) that including 1-2 servings of dairy daily can help lead to increased fat loss in an individuals diet compared to those who intake none. So are these so called sugars going to make us fat? Absolutely not, that is like comparing the sugars in fruit are going to make you fat, they are full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that everyone should include unless you have a food allergy towards these specific foods.

Is milk… dirty?

The last myth that I have seen thrown around a lot is since milk and dairy products are “processed” it is not a “Clean” food or will not aid in losing bodyfat/weight. Again another myth that is not holding truth. Losing weight comes down to a generic caloric equation of calories in vs calories out. If you are in taking less calories than your body burns in a given day through exercise, BMR, Non-Exercise Physical Activity (such as washing dishes, walking, grocery shopping) you will lose weight. The body is going to recognize the amount of calories you intake, and based off how much you burn will dictate what your weight and physique does over a prolonged period of time. As we have covered in this article the multiple benefits of dairy, the amount of vitamins, minerals, benefits of fatloss, the active cultures they contain to help with anti-oxidants, and the support of them through multiple studies broadcasted on Pubmed and many other researched topics online there is no reason why one should avoid unless they are lactose intolerant (and again there are alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant with lactose-free substances).

About The Author

Bob Kupniewski, better known as “Chef Bob”, whose creative and original recipes have built a tremendous following on popular fitness industry forums, including Bodybuilding.com. Bob is a competitive Natural bodybuilder who has taken top 5 in both of his shows he has competed in as a Lightweight and is currently growing into a middleweight for the future. You can follow Bob’s Progress at “Bkupniewski” on youtube or Instagram