Sunday, July 20, 2014

My experience with giving up dairy

These days it seems like everyone is giving up dairy for one reason or another. As someone who has experienced some mild lactose intolerance, especially as I get older, it's definitely something I've considered doing.

Then a few months ago I went through a period where it seemed like even my protein shakes -- which should have no, or next to no, lactose in them -- were bugging me and I was having issues with gas and gastric distress that just wouldn't go away. So it seemed like it was time.

I didn't quit cold turkey, mostly because I didn't feel like throwing out pounds of perfectly good protein powder. But I gradually cut back more and more until I was pretty much not consuming any dairy as far as I could tell. (It's in everything so I may have been getting trace amounts here and there.)

And I sat back and waited for all the wonderful things that were supposed to happen when you give up dairy. You know, the bloating to go away. The gas. Losing 10 pounds. The works.

And waited.

And waited.

I did lose 2-3 pounds. I think. It's hard to separate that kind of weight loss out from other factors though.

It also did seem like my ankles were slightly less swollen. Slightly. Or maybe not. The problem with this sort of thing is that there is a psychological phenomena with a fancy pants name I can never remember that causes people to want to believe that whatever choice they have made is a good one. It's why everyone tells you the XYZ Diet is the best thing ever! 

At least at first. 

So I think maybe I was retaining slightly less water around the ankles but maybe I just wanted to believe that. I definitely didn't have anything dramatic happen though.

I also did feel slightly better. Not enough to make up for missing ice cream though.

Plus the gas didn't go away. Or the gastric distress.

The final straw in the coffin of this experiment is that the plant-based protein powders I bought to replace the whey-based protein powders just didn't seem to hold me the way that the whey powders did. I'd drink them and then I'd be starving and I'd snack all morning until lunch time. I rarely did that with my old protein shakes.

I got rid of the gastric issues by being more aggressive with probiotics, by the way.

Once they went away and once it was clear that dairy wasn't causing any of my issues that led me to give it up in the first place, I went back to consuming it.

And gained that 2-3 pounds back. So I guess I did lose it from giving up dairy after all. And maybe my ankles are puffier again. Maybe.

But nothing else happened. 

The gas didn't come back and I've not had any issues with gastric distress of any kind. I don't feel worse than before. Even the day I had three servings of dairy at work (not all at once - spread out so each one didn't push my lactose intolerance threshold), I didn't feel bad at all.

So where does that leave me?

I've decided to keep the one plant-based protein powder I found that I liked but I'm going to add back in one of my whey powders. I hope that will keep me from going crazy snacking all morning because I'm still hungry after I supposedly had my breakfast. But it will still limit how much protein I'm getting from dairy sources.

The reason I still want to cut back some on the dairy is that, before, some days half my protein grams came from dairy and I do like to mix up what I'm eating. Everything has pros and cons so if you don't eat all of one thing, you can get a bigger mixture of benefits and you can minimize some of the cons. Getting half your protein grams from dairy (and a sizable percentage of your calories as well) is not having a balanced diet!

By having the Vega One Berry shake a few times a week and maybe not having a dairy-based afternoon snack every single day but having more eggs instead, I can cut my dairy consumption in half and get more of other kinds of micronutrients and maybe lose that 2-3 pounds that seems to come from whatever inflammatory properties dairy has.
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