Do: Choose dairy products made from whole milk
Dairy products made from whole milk have fewer carbohydrates than reduced-fat or fat-free products. For instance, a cup of shredded reduced-fat cheese has twice as many carbs as a cup of shredded cheese made from whole milk. Another benefit of whole milk is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been credited with promoting weight loss, improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, reducing serum triglycerides, and decreasing risk for certain types of cancer. Whole milk dairy is one of the best sources of this beneficial fatty acid, and the higher the fat content, the more CLA is contained. It also provides a high degree of satiety.
Do: Choose organic dairy from grass-fed cows whenever possible
Up until the 1960s, all cows in the US were fed grass and raised without hormones or antibiotics. However, once factory farming became the standard method of raising dairy cows and livestock, the diet changed to primarily grains, resulting in more rapid weight gain. In addition, factory-farmed cows are given large doses of hormones to increase milk production, along with antibiotics to prevent infections, which are common due to the overcrowded living conditions. Purchasing dairy from grass-fed, organic or naturally raised cows is a healthier option than selecting milk products from conventionally raised animals, and it contains higher amounts of heart-healthy omega-3 fats and CLA.
Don’t drink fluid milk
Although whole-milk dairy products are generally lower in carbohydrates than reduced-fat varieties, this is not true in the case of fluid milk. All milk has about 13 grams of carbohydrate per 8-ounce serving, which is quite high for most levels of carbohydrate restriction. In addition, your brain does not register carbohydrate in liquid form the same way it does with solid food, so your hunger is unlikely to be satisfied with a glass of milk.
Don’t eat “light” yogurt
Greek yogurt has more protein and fewer carbs than other yogurt, but plain, whole milk yogurt with no additives actually has less carbohydrate than indicated on the nutrition facts label because some of the lactose, or milk sugar, is fermented by the live bacterial cultures contained in the yogurt. What type of yogurt is not a good choice? “Light” yogurt generally isn’t low in carbs; it’s low in fat. It may have added fruit and/or sugar but is designated “light” because it’s usually made with nonfat milk. In addition, it may have starch or other stabilizers that contain carbs. It is best to choose whole milk dairy with no additives.
There’s no need to avoid dairy on a carbohydrate-restricted diet; on the contrary, dairy can be a beneficial and delicious component of your diet plan. Just be sure to choose the type that supports your low-carb goals rather than hinders them.