The Dairy Debate

 In CrossFit, Daily WODs, News & Events, Nutrition



The discussion of dairy has no simple black-and-white answer. There are many things about dairy that could be problematic, beneficial, or have no effect at all depending on the person consuming it.

Milk and dairy defined…..

Milk is considered the perfect food providing carbohydrates, protein and fat. Milk is an amazing source of energy and building blocks to grow mammals such as cows and humans that are too young to eat adult food yet. Until our or other mammal’s digestive systems are completely developed to digest whole food, mother’s milk supplies all of the optimal nutrition needed to grow.

Milk is a blend of substances that not only promote fast growth of young mammals but also helps to ensure development of their immune system. Milk is considered to be energy dense and a hormone delivery system of sorts.  In this context milk is the perfect food.

But what happens when our adult human bodies receive these biological messages intended for a calf? It is definitely not normal physiological function and could be harmful. In fact, we are the only mammals that drink milk from another mammal and we are also the only mammals who continue to drink milk after the age of two. Interesting right?

Some sciency stuff……that’s a technical term

Milk provokes and inflammatory response in out gut which can negatively affect how we digest our food. Similar to what happens with gluten, cow’s milk is linked to a number of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and celiac disease.

Milk and other milk related products also increases insulin similar to consuming foods with a high glycemic load. Although milk has a low glycemic load it provokes a high insulin spike because it contains carbohydrates with high levels of the amino acid leucine. The combination is what causes the insulin spike. Consuming only one or the other does not do this. Skim milk causes even worse spikes because there is no fat to help decrease the absorption of the amino acids and carbohydrates.

Also, contrary to the idea that milk provides our bodies with calcium for strong bones, dairy and other processed foods such as grains can actually rob our bones of calcium.

Potential benefits…..

So, are there benefits to drinking milk? Absolutely. But everyone is different. If you have reached your desired body composition and want to gain mass, get stronger and don’t mind adding a few pounds in the process, drink up. Consuming milk post workout is an excellent time to enjoy. Having a high insulin spike post workout can help move nutrients to your muscles as quickly as possible while your body is still highly insulin sensitive. Mixing half milk and water with your protein shake is a great combo as well. As mentioned in an earlier post, strong growth promoters like IGF, hGH, insulin and testosterone come from drinking full fat, whole milk.


Personally I am not a big fan of dairy. I do however LOVE cheese and full fat whipping cream in my coffee. If you are looking to lean out or may have some unexplained digestive issues, acne or mucus build up, cut it out. If you wan to put on some mass and possibly deal with some other side effects, give it a shot.


Written by Connie Keathley

Connie Keathley

Connie is a Coach at Four Barrel CrossFit. Her coaching credentials include CrossFit Level 3, CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Movement & Mobility, Gymnastics, Advanced Gymnastics and Endurance. She is also a Level 1 USAW lifting coach. She’s coached and trained under 9-time USAW National Champion Olympic Weightlifter, Chad Vaughn as well as Olympic competitors Ursula Garza and Matt Bruce. She’s trained people from age 3 to 81, and has always had a heart to help others! Being a CrossFit coach has given her the avenue to do so!




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