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Rethinking Dairy

Wait.. rethinking? Yeah, as in “verb: To reconsider, especially profoundly”. I’m a huge fan of dairy and have been from the time I discovered the creamy, cheesy goodness that made my world go ’round for 30+ years. So this has been kind of hard but I think today’s status on my Facebook page pretty much summarizes it:

Never would have thought this was coming but… I’m rethinking dairy. Which is pretty much my equivalent to Congressman nationwide rethinking Twitter.

The Catalyst

I’ve discussed dairy in detail here and come down on the side ” monitoring personal effects/moderation”. Dairy has been an easy go-to source for protein in my diet so far thanks mainly to Fage 0% yogurt and a bit of skim milk here and there. But Asylum’s nutrition plan got me thinking. Here’s the kicker: Asylum (and Shaun T.) call off dairy in total. There’s not a hint of anything milky, yogurty or cheesy in the nutrition guide at all. The guide also gives an explicit challenge to avoid dairy for at least two weeks to see how you feel. There’s lots of personal reasons people have for giving up dairy (mostly how it makes you feel) but on my first pass of Asylum/P90X hybrid a month or so ago, I postponed the decision and kept on.

Still, in the back of my mind I had the thought of human beings generally widespread allergy to lactose. Just because I’m not having intestinal trouble with it, does that mean it’s working for me? So here’s the test… I quit dairy on Sunday. No more yogurt. No more skim milk.


In the short three days since I’ve eliminated dairy, I’ve seen a noticeable difference in “puffiness” –not fat– around and over my upper body muscles. I know that sounds minor but I’ve tweaked water and salt intake (to reduce “edema” or water retention) over the last few months in an effort to whittle this down for more definition. A few months back, I’d been talking with a nutritionist guru friend of mine and he’d mentioned no matter the gastro-intenstinal effect of dairy, those who avoid dairy could see less sub-dermal swelling of tissue that could be a natural body reaction to dairy’s lactose. Sounds nerdy, but that’s basically fancy talk for “puffiness”. I kind of wrote it off as shredding “super-refinement” (IE– the unsustainable stuff bodybuilders do prep for competition/photo shoots)– steps I wasn’t willing to go after… but in the last few days, I’m seeing that may be the case. Still, — just like anything else, what I’m seeing may not be what someone else will experience. Opposite, even.

What Now?

The inclusion of milk and yogurt in my diet has brought me this far, but I’m now looking for a little more refinement and a test against the Asylum/Shaun T. challenge to swear off dairy. Seeing the results of the last few days, I’m willing to keep at it and see what that two weeks does for even more muscle definition.

Am I now on the “Dairy is Evil” bandwagon? No way– this is more a personal grapple and insight than anything. It may not play out that this is the case. Dairy is still a great source of protein and amino acids that are great for muscle– and if taken in moderation like anything else has a great nutritional profile that’ll be a part of getting awesome results and will still leave you looking good… (Daisy Torres is a pretty good example). But in my own experience, I’m seeing there may be something to folks like Shaun T. swearing it off for “aesthetic” (IE- “I wanna look even better”) reasons. I’ll keep you posted!

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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Jim says:

    I”m looking forward to seeing more about this Dan. I didn’t know that dairy had the “puffiness” effect that you mentioned.

  2. Leland says:

    tried this myself for about 2 weeks and my abs were definitely more ripped whenever I was off dairy completely. the only dairy I do right now is skim milk, but I’m trying to completely get rid of it to where i only drink it on occasion. great and informative post.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Any updates on the dairy front? I currently eat fat free cottage cheese (1/2 cup), 80 calorie Dannon Lite & Fit Greek Yogurt, and 1 cup of skim milk per day. I am interested to know how it ulitmately worked out for you. Please let me know.

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      I’ve cut dairy out for the most part and haven’t really missed it, to be honest. I think you’ll find if you give it a break for a few weeks, you won’t miss it either. That said, do a little test in that regard and see how it goes and if reducing changes how you feel.

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