The Trainer Who Gives Nutrition Advice

A reader is wondering about the nutrition advice she's getting from all the trainers at her gym. They recommend not consuming any milk or dairy, because in nature, milk is meant for babies, not after you are weaned. The trainers also say if you do drink milk, stay with raw milk. She wanted my opinion because she really loves her Dannon yogurt!


We once belonged to a really nice gym. I enjoyed lifting weights twice a week and would quietly do my own circuit on the machines using slow, steady lifts with the best form I could put together. The trainers who roamed around checking on people pretty much left me alone. Others were busy with their one-on-one clients giving them great encouragement and advice on their fitness program. I never heard any one of them give incorrect info on exercise--it was all good stuff, as one would expect from a certified trainer.

But, I would often hear these trainers giving nutrition advice. I heard one once tell an older woman never to eat any fat to lose weight (WRONG!) I heard another one advising a man that he had to cut out all red meat and pork and start taking the protein supplements if he was going to get stronger and healthier (NOPE!) I would hear nutritional pronouncements coming out of some of these trainers mouths like exhaled breath. My problem? It was too often misinformation or something totally wrong. If your trainer starts touting nutrition, be on red alert. You could ask him where he got his degree in nutrition (I always wanted to.)

So what's the deal with milk? It's true that the majority of the people in the world aren't milk drinkers. Most don't swim for exercise, either. Does that mean you shouldn't drink milk or swim? Of course not. Many cultures simply don't have the availability of dairy foods. If cheese and milk haven't been in the their diets traditionally, each culture tends to stick with the foods they've always had (well, until McDonald's moves in!) Giving blanket advice to people to do something just because most people in the world do it that way, without regard to what is better for overall health for that individual is totally off.

The facts:
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese are nutritional powerhouses. They are top on the list of food sources of calcium, and are great sources of complete protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and zinc. Dairy products are incredibly nutrient dense--a real bargain (see earlier post.) To avoid these, is to lose out on an incredible source of greatness.
  • Milk and milk products offer easily absorbable sources of calcium. You can find other food sources of calcium such as spinach, almonds and collard greens. However, most studies have shown that these vegetables have some things (e.g. fiber, oxylates) in them that can mess up the absorption a bit, making less of the calcium available for use in your body. Milk products have don't have this problem. But keep eating your spinach---it's also a nutrient dense super food!
  • Lactose intolerance may be a problem, as it is for many people around the globe. This happens when your body lacks the enough lactase which is an enzyme that digests the sugar found in dairy, lactose. Find the lactose-free foods: these have the enzyme added to it so the lactose is all broken down and shouldn't cause any more gas, bloating, etc. Look for lactose-free milk, ice cream, and cheese. Lactaid and Dairy Ez are two good ones. Another alternative is to take the enzyme in supplement form while you eat the pizza with cheese. These products come in tablet form or chewables, such as Lactaid Ultra. Two of my kids are lactose intolerant and have used these successfully for years.
Raw Milk? Good grief! Raw milk is milk that has not gone through the pasteurization process, where it is heated to high enough temperatures to kill off potentially dangerous bacteria. Pasteurization has pretty much eliminated the spread of many diseases such as tuberculosis and diphtheria, Q fever (that's so far eliminated, most people haven't even heard of it--including me!) It kills E coli, listeria, salmonella, staph...all evil bacteria that people used to ingest via milk and many ended up very, very sick. That was before pasteurization came around. Now, we have many, many fewer incidences of all these diseases. And fewer deaths because of them, too. A truly wonderful thing.

Does this high heat process damage the nutrients in the milk? Absolutely not! The protein, calcium, riboflavin, zinc, and all the other great stuff remain...just the evil stuff gets zapped. No worries here at all.

Raw milk is extremely dangerous to give to babies, young children, elderly people, or anyone with immune challenged systems. Pasteurization is an awesome thing!

Bottom line: Get your exercise advice from those trainers at the gym...that's what they are certified to do.

Get your nutrition advice from folks with R.D.'s or actual B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.'s in nutrition.

And then, you'll be rocking your way toward that healthy, svelte, buff body you are aiming for!