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Why Eating Full-Fat Dairy Does A Runner’s Body Good

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the benefits of eating full-fat yogurt and milk, among other dairy products, for overall health. It was recently discovered that having your full-fat dairy indulgence is not only unrelated to obesity and a higher risk of diabetes but may also do more to prevent both!

This news is especially great for runners, since whole milk is an excellent source of bone-building calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients many runners do not get enough of. Not only that, full-fat dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese taste richer and can be more flavorful than their low-fat counterparts, which can reduce your appetite and increase satiety.

More and more, eating healthy fats (like avocado, yogurt and nuts) is becoming less vilified. That said, portion control is still in full effect, and these findings are not a free pass to butter both sides of your whole wheat bread. But for the thousands who start running as a means to lose weight, the news is even better. Another study, published in September 2014 found that when choosing between a low-fat or a low-carb diet, the people in the study lost more weight when they cut carbs, rather than fat. The possible reason for this is the fullness factor! When trying to lose weight, the nutrient content of food counts. In these studies, many of the participants simply ate less of the full-fat version of their favorite dairy choices.

Related: Yogurt Breakfast Bowls

Under the guidance of a nutritionist, I made some simple changes to incorporate full-fat dairy into my diet to see what would happen.

Here is a quick overview:

  1. I swapped my whole wheat fig bars for a hardboiled egg to pair with my 5:00 a.m. wake-up coffee.
  2. My second breakfast at 7:30 a.m. now comprises a bowl of full fat greek yogurt with granola and berries, instead of my usual high-protein and fiber cereal with skim milk.
  3. I am not eating a protein packed lunch of chicken, avocado, spinach and some sweet potato chips (because let’s be real) instead of a whole wheat pita with natural peanut butter and an apple.
  4. Dinner remained pretty much the same with a turkey burger (except now I skip the bun) or fish and lots of roasted veggies!

The result has been not waking up starving, staying fuller longer and losing two pounds in three weeks. I also train up to 12 hours per week running, cycling, swimming and lifting weights. Obviously what works for me may not work for you, but playing around with your diet and swapping some protein for carbs and adding more full fat dairy may be incredibly beneficial.

As in all things, moderation is key and a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is best to maintain a healthy runner’s body. However, you now know that there is no need to shy away from some cheese wedges on your kale salad or whole milk with your high-protein cereal. A well-rounded diet (with healthy fats!) makes for a happy running mind and body.

Related: Which Milk Is Right For You?