First off, let me just start by saying it is unfortunate if you cannot eat dairy because you are lactose intolerant or have difficulty digesting milk protein. An increasing number of scientific studies are finding a link between dietary calcium and increased muscle leanness and reduced body fat.
How does dairy contribute to muscle leanness?
There are few theories that explain the relationship between dietary calcium and muscle leanness. One theory that I know of, relates to calcitriol, a hormone in our body, which is a form of vitamin D. According to research, people who do not consume enough dietary calcium are likely to overproduce calcitriol, leading to more fat storage in the body. It appears increasingly clear that a low dietary calcium intake fosters fat storage while a high dietary calcium regimen promotes muscle leanness.
What are the best sources of dietary calcium?
Dairy is the best source for your dietary calcium supply, because it is very easy for the body to absorb, compared to other sources of calcium. More specifically, raw milk (non-homogenized and unpasteurized) derived from grass-fed cows (rather than factory farm raised cows), is the healthiest kind of milk. Unfortunately, raw milk of this sort is not easily available in the United States. Therefore, I recommend you limit your consumption of homogenized and pasteurized milk in your diet. Instead, load up on yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, and other healthy cheeses. Raw cheeses are the best for muscle leanness, besides body-weight high intensity interval training exercises.
For people who are lactose intolerant, I suggest you find alternative ways for maintaining high levels of dietary calcium in your diet. Actually, lactose intolerant people can still find yogurt and raw cheese edible, because the micro-organisms in raw cheese and yogurt predigest the lactose.
There are also low-lactose milks available. I suggest you do a little bit of your own research. Some people that believe they are lactose intolerant can actually drink raw milk with no problem whatsoever. The reason is that raw milk has beneficial bacteria and additional enzymes that predigest the lactose.
Muscle leanness and dietary calcium – Last words
Research indicates that supplemental calcium does not foster weight loss and muscle leanness nearly as much as dietary calcium. This can be true for calcium-enhanced products like calcium added to an orange juice. This kind of calcium may not be easily absorbed by the body. If you can consume dairy, try to eat two to four servings of dairy every day to obtain the maximum fat loss and muscle leanness benefits. As I mentioned before, the best choices for calcium-rich dairy are ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt. Other sources include salmon or canned sardines, spinach, beans and broccoli.