Wednesday 13 December 2017

Nutritional Q & A: Confusion over going dairy-free

Daniel Davey BSc MSc, CSCS, NEHS is a performance nutritionist

Tea and coffee can contribute to your daily fluid needs.
Tea and coffee can contribute to your daily fluid needs.

Daniel Davey

Got a nutritional question? Our expert has the answer.

Q. "I am trying to go dairy-free and I'm confused about something - does this mean I should give up eggs as well?"

Daniel says: There are numerous variations of vegetarian and vegan diets that include, or do not include, dairy products – this may be where the confusion arose.

* A lacto-vegetarian is a vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products.

* A lacto-ovo-vegetarian or ovo-lacto vegetarian is a vegetarian who does not eat animal flesh but does eat dairy and egg products.

Dairy products are foods that are derived from mammal milk – cows, sheep, goats, camel, buffalo – and the related products such as yoghurt, cream and cheese to mention a few. These are classified as dairy products. Eggs which are laid by chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and various other birds are not dairy products and can be included in a dairy-free diet.

In short, only foods that are derived from mammal milk should be considered dairy products.

Question: "Does tea and coffee count towards your daily intake of water?"

It is better to think of your daily intake in terms of 'fluid' rather than 'water' per se. Tea and coffee can therefore count towards your intake of fluid to achieve daily fluid balance.

There was previously a belief that coffee and tea were strong diuretics (cause fluid loss) and that instead of positively contributing to fluid balance they actually resulted in dehydration. Even if you drink a pint of water, there is going to be some diuretic effect as the body adapts to a change in total body water.

Research has since shown that if you are a habitual coffee or tea drinker, ie several cups per day, these drinks can positively contribute to fluid balance and have very little diuretic effect over and above drinking the equivalent amount of water.

In the case of non-habitual tea or coffee drinkers, there can be a mild diuretic effect when drinking tea of coffee but this can easily be compensated for by drinking a little extra water. Although tea and coffee can positively contribute to fluid balance, it is still a good habit to consume water as well rather than relying solely on tea or coffee to meet your daily hydration needs.

People often fail to consider that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can also provide a large amount of fluid on a daily basis.

Question: "I'm trying to follow a low-glycemic index (GI) diet, but I really can't stand sweet potatoes. Are roasted parsnips a good alternative, or are they considered a refined carbohydrate like regular potatoes?" 

Roasted parsnips are not considered a refined carbohydrate, as only foods that have been processed like table sugar, certain cereals, white flour and other processed sugary foods are considered refined carbohydrate.

Similarly, a normal white potato is not a refined carbohydrate, and even though they are more easily digested and have a higher GI than sweet potatoes, I have previously written about the fact that white potatoes often have an undeserved 'bad' reputation.

Back to your question: parsnips are a good source of carbohydrate (hence, the sweet taste), so I frequently recommend them to athletes that I work with.

If you are aiming to reduce body fat, then I would suggest having parsnips on training days rather than on days when you are not highly active. Parsnips, celeriac, carrots, butternut squash and bell peppers are just a few examples of other vegetables you can roast with herbs and spices as an alternative to sweet potato. But, bear in mind, if you are looking to 'carb load' as an athlete, white potatoes and sweet potatoes will be better options as they provide more carbohydrate per gram that those options mentioned above.

Irish Independent

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