Dairy Protein Power

Dairy: A Tried-and-True Source of Protein

If you’re looking for ways to add protein to your diet, you’re not alone. Recently, protein has become a trendy nutrient; you’ll likely find it showcased on a variety of product labels in your grocery store. Dairy foods, though, have always been and continue to be a tried-and-true source of protein. Simply add three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt to your diet to power your day with protein.

Don’t Pass on the Protein

Protein is a powerhouse nutrient for our bodies. Not only does it help us feel fuller longer, it also protects muscles after we work out, strengthens the immune system and regulates metabolism as we get older. Milk protein is naturally found in all dairy products, and it helps build strong muscles for our active lifestyles.

Speaking of getting older, dietary protein plays a key role in the changing nutrient needs of aging adults. It has been estimated that 45% of older adults in the U.S. have sarcopenia, a condition characterized by loss of muscle mass and strength due to the aging process. Evidence shows that older adults may actually require increased protein to help preserve and build muscle1,2. Research also shows that 30 grams of protein at each meal is sufficient to stimulate protein synthesis in both younger and older adults3. With an average of 8 grams of protein per serving, dairy can certainly help make a dent in this protein goal while also providing other key nutrients of concern for an aging population, such as vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12 and potassium. Add in some exercise, and the results get even better.

Dairy foods are a tasty, convenient and cost-effective way to power up with protein throughout the day. Dairy provides four simple ways to get the daily recommended servings of protein.

Glass jug and glass with milk


Many athletes reach for chocolate milk after a game or practice. Milk protein helps maintain healthy muscles and the carbohydrates in milk help refuel muscles after exercise.

Cheese varieties


Because cheese provides a natural source of high quality protein, it can help curb your hunger. This makes it a great tool for weight management.

Fresh Healthy Yogurt


While a serving of regular yogurt provides approximately 8 grams of protein, a serving of Greek yogurt may pack up to twice that amount.

Food with whey protein


What is whey protein? It’s a high-quality, complete protein found naturally in cow’s milk. “Complete” means it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies can’t make on their own. Whey protein comes straight from the heart of dairy foods – milk.

Right Whey

Protein makes you feel fuller longer than carbohydrates and fats, which makes it a useful weight management tool. However, not all protein is the same. This is important to remember when comparing dairy products to milk alternatives like soy, rice and almond milks. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows that whey protein, a protein found naturally in dairy, does a better job building muscle tissue compared to soy protein. Because muscle loss happens naturally as we age, it’s important to do what we can know to build our muscle tissue and stay strong.

Whey protein has a fresh, natural taste that complements the flavor of the food to which it is added. Consider these benefits that whey protein and milk protein powder has to offer!

  • Lactose-intolerant — whey’s lower lactose content makes it a good choice for you.
  • Gluten-free — whey can help you increase your protein, vitamin and mineral intake.
  • Fitness Focus — whey protein isn’t just for bodybuilders; if you want to maintain an active lifestyle, whey is your key ingredient!

Whey protein has a fresh, natural taste and complements the flavor of the food to which it is added. Whey protein can easily fit into diets when added as an ingredient to energy bars, sports drinks and powders. Smoothies can also be quick and easy ways to get more whey protein.

For more information on whey protein and related recipes, visit National Dairy Council.

1Deutz NEP, Bauer JM, Barazzoni R, et al. Protein intake and exercise for optimal muscle function with aging: Recommendations from the ESPEN Expert Group. Clin Nutr. 2014;33(6):929-936.
2Morley JE, Argiles JM, Evans WJ, et al. Nutritional recommendations for the management of sarcopenia. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2010;11(6):391-396.
3Symons, T.B., et al. Aging does not impair the anabolic response to a protein-rich meal. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007. 86(2):451-456.

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