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Dairy Protein for the Win!

by Stephanie Cundith, MS, RD, LD | August 1, 2016 | Nutrition | 0 comments

Dairy is Gold

Competition on the world’s stage starts soon, and as a dietitian and an athlete, I have nothing but red, white and moo on my mind. Why? Because dairy and the natural milk protein it delivers plays a central theme in fueling elite athletes. Here are a few ways dairy helps athletes go for the gold:

  • Dairy protein gets a high score for quality. Cow’s milk protein contains all the essential amino acids. In more simple terms, this means it contains all the building blocks of protein which the body can’t make on its own and therefore must obtain through the diet. Additionally, the protein in cow’s milk is one that’s easily and fully digested. This is good news for muscles, which rely on protein for healthy growth and maintenance. This is also what sets cow’s milk apart from milk alternatives such as soy, almond or rice “milk,” which typically provide a lower amount of amino acids and a protein that isn’t as easily digested.
  • Chocolate milk is the champion of sports drinks. World Champion and women’s gymnast, Aly Raisman, relies on chocolate milk for recovery. Additionally, the USA Swimming Team named chocolate milk its official recovery drink. Not only is chocolate milk easy to find and affordable, but it’s proven to be more effective than competing sports beverages in replenishing energy stores and repairing muscle. This is because of its ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein. As a distance runner, I follow the science and these elite athletes’ lead by reaching for chocolate milk after a long run or race. There’s nothing that tastes better or is more refreshing!
  • Greek yogurt is a win-win for athletes. Look in the dairy aisle and it’s hard to miss the vast array of Greek yogurts lining the shelves. This popular, not to mention delicious, dairy food often delivers twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt and half the amount of lactose, a naturally occurring milk sugar. It’s no wonder the Greek yogurt brand Chobani is the official yogurt sponsor of the USOC through 2020. I don’t know about you, but I love to think about which flavors the athletes pick when they are dining at the Village in Rio. My favorites? Vanilla or banana. Yum.

Join me in raising a glass of – yep, you guessed it – chocolate milk to cheer on America’s elite athletes in Rio! For a twist, try a chocolate milk- and yogurt-based smoothie or shake. Also, please share your favorite ways to go for gold with dairy.

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Stephanie Cundith, MS, RD, LD
Manager, Corporate Communications at Midwest Dairy

As a registered dietitian and nutrition spokesperson for Midwest Dairy Council, I work on behalf of dairy farmers to communicate the benefits of dairy nutrition. In addition to Dairy Makes Sense, I am a blogger for The Dairy Report.

I write from the perspective of a working mom who recognizes the challenges families face when sorting out nutrition information and putting healthy foods on the table. Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt - all proven to play a critical role in overall health and development – take center stage in my family’s meal plan. As a runner who always is training for the next big race, I also write from the perspective of an athlete. I understand the important role nutrition plays in fueling an active lifestyle and believe that dairy helps me perform at my best.

My education background may be considered non-traditional in the field of dietetics. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism. After graduation I decided to go back to school to study nutrition and become a dietitian. I joined the Midwest Dairy staff eight years ago. Before that, I worked as a hospital dietitian and a weight management coach.

I'm originally from Pennsylvania, but Kansas has been my home now for more than ten years. Favorite pastimes include traveling east to visit family, cooking, and doing anything outside - especially distance running or chasing after my nine year-old son.

Let’s talk more about dairy nutrition, health and fitness! Follow me on Twitter @scundithRD.

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