A while back I had mentioned I was going to try going dairy free.
I’ve never had any outward symptoms of dairy intolerance, never had any problems with dairy.
Or so I thought.
When I was researching and reading for my “Celiacs and the Paleo Diet” post, I began reading more about dairy and the manifestations that dairy intolerance can take.
So, just for grins, I decided to do a dairy free challenge.
I also cut out all grains and legumes.
Now, it’s not like I was a huge consumer of either of these. In a day, I may have gluten free oatmeal, a serving of brown rice, and a serving or two of cottage cheese or greek yogurt. Now, don’t get the idea I went “low carb.” I simply replaced my grain carbohydrate with not grain carbohydrate (sweet potato, butternut squash, fruit) in addition to my usual copious amounts of veggies and some fruit. My carbohydrate consumption can be classified as moderate, and I keep it after my training sessions.
I did this for a about 3 weeks, and didn’t notice a huge difference in how I “look, feel and perform” to quote Robb Wolf and his triad of assessing how food affects you, which I quite like and will steal with attribution. (By the way, I am currently reading his new book and am digging it quite a bit. Full review to come.)
And I need to qualify this. I am referring to “regular” dairy. As in stuff you can buy in the supermarket. You’ll see later why I make this qualification.
So, here’s me thinking, “ok, there’s no difference, I’ll add it back in.”
I kept out grains, but added back in a couple of servings of cottage cheese and greek yogurt.
Joint. Pain. OW!
If you’ve been around here before, you may know that I have a history of multiple surgeries on both knees. Constant achiness is normal for me, so I don’t really notice it. After taking in the dairy, it was so bad I was back to having to lower myself down to the toilet with the help of my arms. And I can squat 135# at a bodyweight of 125# for 4 sets of 5, to parallel. This is not huge weight by any means, but for me of the cranky knees, it’s pretty good. The toilet should be a non-issue.
Hip pain too.
This was within a day. Actually, within a few hours when I started noticing it. Within a day the pain was apparent.
Needless to say, that was the end of that experiment and all the proof I needed.
So much for having “no problems” with dairy, eh?!?!?
Now for my qualifications.
- I seem to have no joint pain when I use whey protein powder, which is derived from dairy.
- I seem to tolerate raw, unpasteurized, grassfed, fresh from the farm, cream in my coffee without any joint pain (for pet consumption, of course, in the state of Florida.)
- Kerrygold butter (which is grass fed but easily available in stores) also does not give me joint pain.
Theory of why this may be the case:
- -All of these items have very low to no lactose and casein, the two common allergen components of dairy products. Mark’s Daily Apple has a nice blog post on dairy that discusses these a bit.
- -Casein has a very similar structure to gluten, which is why so many celiacs are intolerant of dairy.
I am off dairy. With the exception of the aforementioned items.
Doing this experiment was cool though, it was very concrete and gave me the feedback I needed. Next I can add back in the oatmeal and see what happens.
If you are unsure if a food is affecting you, this is a great, inexpensive (as in no doctors appointments or lab tests) way to do it. You can even do something like the Whole 30 to clear your system of any potential irritants and then systematically add stuff back in, assessing how you feel.
Give it a shot! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so chime up in the comments below!
For more reading about my philosophy on living gluten free:
And if you want more, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a lot more in store, including ideas for dairy and gluten free protein powders.
If you STILL don’t have enough, get my free nutrition guide.
And that should give you enough reading for a while.
If you STILL want more, or you just want a step by step, simple, checklist approach to cleaning up your diet, check out 7 Quick Start Tips to Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life.
Dairy free, or dairy-full? What say you?
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