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What's a Good Source of Protein for People Who are Lactose-Intolerant/Allergic to Dairy?

Let me begin by saying I feel your pain. I'm not just lactose-intolerant; I'm allergic to dairy.

For those of you who are familiar with what it means to be lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy, feel free to skip down the page a bit. For those of you who aren't, we'll start with a brief overview:

Lactose-intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (the primary sugar found in dairy) and the body's inability to produce lactase. People who are lactose-intolerant can sometimes take lactase supplements like Lactaid, although those people who are severely lactose-intolerant may find that's not enough.

Being allergic to dairy is different: I'm allergic to the protein in dairy. There are two types of protein in dairy: whey and casein. Milk contains 20% whey and 80% casein. I'm allergic to whey (and I may be allergic to casein as well, but I haven't bothered to test it).

In addition to the gas, bloating and associated abdominal pain that people experience when they're lactose-intolerant, I have additional symptoms that come with being allergic to dairy: my respiratory passages become inflamed, I snore while I sleep, I break out in cystic acne and I have patchy hair-loss. Fun stuff.

Anyone who has stepped foot inside a GNC knows that the primary protein found in protein powders, protein bars and post-workout supplements is whey. And in fact, whey is a great anabolic (muscle-building) protein needs! Being anabolic means that your body is receiving the energy (amount and type) needed to maintain and grow muscle. Casein is an anabolic resource, as well, but the glycemic index of casein is significantly lower than whey, meaning that casein is digested slower than whey.

Why is it important to know the difference in glycemic index differences between whey and casein? Well, if you're lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy, it doesn't unless you're curious. So here's the reason: after you work out it's crucial to make certain your body has the necessary nutrients to build muscle. If you don't have the protein and carbohydrates (we'll carbs in a different article), you'll be catabolic. Being catabolic means your body is breaking down muscle to use as energy rather than being anabolic (building muscle).

So then, What's a Good Source of Protein for People Who are Lactose-Intolerant/Allergic to Dairy?

Here are a number of protein sources for people who are lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy:

- Eggs

- Egg protein powder

- Chicken and Turkey

- Fish

- Beef

- Beef protein isolate powder

Let's talk a bit about these dairy-free protein sources.

Eggs and Egg Protein Powder: eggs are fantastic sources of dairy-free protein. Some people experience a bit of gas and bloating, but if your digestive system can handle it this may be the one for you. Personally, I love having eggs. Typically, I have an egg-white omelette and a slice of whole-wheat bread in the morning for one of my morning meals. Egg-whites are a low-fat, low calorie, protein-dense food. I also like Muscle Egg protein powder--tastes great but it does give me a bit of gas.

Chicken and Turkey: Chicken and turkey are essential to a bodybuilder's diet. Why? Because chicken and turkey provide great low-fat, protein-dense nutrients. If you buy chicken cutlets, breasts or thighs be sure to trim off any fat. Remember that chicken thighs (and any dark-meat) contains more fat than white meat. If you go with turkey, I recommend buying 99% fat free ground turkey. Ground chicken is helpful as well. These dairy-free protein sources are excellent no matter what your goals, including doing a clean bulk, dieting for your summer beach-body or just looking for a healthy protein for lunch or dinner. When you're doing a clean bulk or contest prep (for bodybuilding competitions), you're often eating six to eight meals a day: that means a lot of chewing. I recommend going with the ground chicken and ground turkey; it makes eating a lot easier.

Fish: Fish is another great source of protein! However, fish can also be a bit fatty, so depending on your goals you may want to pick certain types of fish and exclude others. For instance, my family loves salmon, but when I'm in contest prep (for a bodybuilding competition), I limit my salmon consumption and instead eat cod, flounder or halibut. To cut even more fat from the low-fat fish, I refrigerate the fish and the fat often congeals at the bottom, which allows me to separate it and keep the fish.

Beef and Beef Protein Isolate Powder: depending on your dietary needs and restrictions, beef and beef protein isolate powder may be your key to satisfying nutritional needs for maintaining anabolic muscle growth. Some people believe that red meat (including beef) can cause coronary and vascular problems. If you have these concerns, you don't need to eat beef.

If you want the protein from beef, or if you're simply looking for a great source of dairy-free protein powder I recommend beef protein isolate powder. This is exactly what it sounds like: the protein is isolated from the other components (like fat). As a result, the concerns held for red meat are mitigated if not entirely eliminated and you can still benefit from the protein. My favorite brand of beef protein isolate powder is Carnivor from Muscle Meds. And my favorite flavor is Chocolate Peanut Butter. I use Carnivor's beef protein isolate powder for shakes, but I also add it to low-fat, low-sugar cereals! It tastes like a dessert and takes the pressure off when everyone else is having a bowl of ice-cream, dairy-free or not.

There are other sources of dairy-free proteins that I'm not covering in this article including plant-based proteins (i.e. pea, soy), insect protein such as crickets,

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