Athletes and weekend warriors from all fields know the benefits of refueling their bodies especially with nutrient-rich dairy. But are those athletes skipping milk because of lactose intolerance missing out?
Last month, during Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month Dr. Kelly Pritchett, Assistant Professor and Registered Sports Dietitian at Central Washington University, taught the school’s Men’s Rugby team all about it-- serving sizes, recommendations for dairy intake, the lactose content of various dairy products and what to do when dairy doesn’t “play nice” with your digestive tract.
“Once athletes understand which foods contain lactose and those that don’t, they can better plan meals and snacks that provide proper nutrition and work for them” explained Pritchett. Athletes are always thrilled to know, for example, that many hard cheeses have no lactose at all.
"I now know that lactose intolerance is when your body lacks the enzyme to break down the sugar found in milk products,” shared Ivan Pula, a freshman on the team. The Rugby players learned that milk contains the most lactose, at about 12 grams of lactose per cup. They also learned that lactose is an efficient sugar that replenishes energy after a workout.
Dr. Pritchett shared tips for building a competitive athlete’s plate particularly discussing differences in calories needs for a heavy, moderate, and light training days. Dairy foods, she reminded the group, are key to any meal plan.
Dairy foods provide nutrients that a body needs for energy, building muscle, burning fat and staying hydrated, things that are very important for any athlete, especially those who burn lots of energy and have back-to-back workouts. Energy stores can be found in other food sources, but milk’s protein profile is hard to beat.
CWU’s Rugby athletes with lactose intolerance don’t have to miss out on dairy nutrition and won’t be this year as they practice new cooking skills at home. Learn more about how CWU athletes cook with cheese and build Mediterranean Bowls at home after practices and games.