We’re nearly 2 months into the New Year, so I’m here as a reminder to check in with your weight goals that you set in January. Let’s take a look at how the high-quality protein in milk and dairy foods can help you stay on track!
I have partnered with National Dairy Council to share with you today’s topic: reaching your weight goals with high quality protein from milk and dairy.
Many people think of meat and protein powder when they think of protein, but there are so many other options, too! The high-quality protein in milk, cheese, and yogurt can help you reach your weight goals as part of an overall balanced diet that is higher in protein. So, let’s dive into why I say this, and why including dairy is helpful for weight management.
What is High-Quality Protein
To start – did you know that your body doesn’t process all protein the same? Protein quality helps us understand how well our bodies are utilizing and digesting the protein in the food we eat. It takes into account three main factors:
- Essential amino acid composition
- Bioavailability of amino acids
There are different ratings used to quantify this protein quality, including but not limited to biological value (BV) and Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). Currently, PDCAAS is the most widely used standard.
High quality proteins have all of the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities, are well digested, and have high amino acid bioavailability.
Is Milk a High-Quality Protein?
I recommend dairy because it provides high-quality protein – in fact, milk is consistently mentioned as one of the top-quality sources of protein. One of the main reasons for this is the complete nature of the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that are within milk. It contains all the essential amino acids in quantities that help your body utilize it efficiently. For reference:
- On a scale from 0-100, milk has a biological value of 91.
- On a scale from 0 – 1.00 with PDCAAS, milk scores 1.00.
Protein Quality of Cheese & Yogurt
Cheese and yogurt, both foods made from fermenting milk, also contain all of the essential amino acids. This makes them great sources of protein to include in your meals and snacks. As you may know, protein is an important part of your weight plan because adequate amounts can help to prevent loss of lean muscle mass (the kind we want to keep!). By making dairy a part of your routine, you can set yourself up for success to meet your protein needs while also controlling your hunger levels throughout the day.
Dairy Intake and Weight Management
To take the dairy and weight management conversation a step further, it’s always great to dive into the research! Published research found that people who consumed 2-4 servings of dairy per day over 16 weeks saw greater success with weight reduction and fat loss, while maintaining lean mass. While there is more research needed, particularly for males, this is very promising to see!
Daily Recommendations for Dairy
It is recommended that you eat 3 servings of dairy each day. And this doesn’t have to be the same food each time! One serving of dairy is equivalent to:
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of yogurt
- 1¼ cup cottage cheese
- 1½ oz hard cheese (e.g., Cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss)
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese
Simple Ways to Eat Dairy to Reach Your Weight Goals
Now let’s look at sample ways to include dairy foods in your day for weight management. I have three examples for you to think outside the box.
- Include cottage cheese in your morning or afternoon smoothie. Some cottage cheese even contains probiotics – look for this on the label.
- Use milk instead of water when preparing oatmeal or smoothies. This will provide more protein to help increase satiety after your meal.
- Use Greek yogurt as the base for a dip. Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt. Mix nonfat plain Greek yogurt with vanilla extract, honey, peanut butter, and a dash of cinnamon. You can even get creative with more savory flavors! Use as a dip for apples, pears, or your favorite fruit.
Now it is your turn to boost some of your meals and snacks with these simple dairy additions to keep you on track for your weight goals.
For additional information and more about how to use dairy in your meals go to USDairy.com.