How to Lower Your Dairy Calories
The Simpsons, Charles Barkley, and Batman have all appeared with milk mustaches. Though the ads are less visible, Americans still “got milk.” Dairy products are the most consumed food in America accounting for 607 pounds per person per year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22 gallons of milk and nearly 33 pounds of cheese is consumed by Americans. Depending on the fat content of the products, that’s over 100,000 calories across 365 days. If you’re looking for ways to lower your daily caloric intake, this is a number you should likely alter. It’s not about what dairy products you consume, but how you consume them that’s key to lowering your daily dairy calories.
Americans between the ages of 20 and 49 average around a cup of fluid milk a day. Because of the variety of skim, 1%, 2% and whole milk, you can vary your milk calories drastically with a few tweaks. While half of fluid intake is drunk as a beverage, the remainder is consumed as flavored milk, with cereal, or added to a drink, like a smoothie or a cup of coffee. While you may be particular about the taste and texture of the milk you drink as a beverage, the other options can be altered to save calories. You may have noticed the dairy industry promoting flavored milk as a post workout drink. But be careful about how much you chug. Flavored milk has 50 more calories per cup than plain milk. That’s a third more calories with no additional nutritional value. You’d be better suited to drink plain milk and add a serving of fruit. A cup of strawberry halves adds the same 50 calories, but adds 3 grams of satiating fiber. If you must have a chocolate fix, have two Hershey’s Kisses at 46 calories with plain milk. This will save you 20 grams of added sugar while still satisfying your chocolate craving. Use skim milk instead of half-and-half in coffee, and save 50 calories as well.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products a day. By choosing a low-fat cheese, you may be able to cut a considerable amount of calories without sacrificing too much in the area of taste. An ounce of mozzarella, part skim milk cheese is just 72 calories, but a slice of full fat Cheddar Cheese is 113. Other cheeses like romano, parmesan, gorgonzola, and bleu cheese are all around 100 calories an ounce as well. Low-fat cheddar cheese is just 48 calories. Choosing other low-fat cheeses can save you 20-40 calories per ounce. Another strategy to control your cheese intake is buying only sliced cheese and crumbling it over salads or other dishes. Slices are portion-controlled and may be easier to use than shredded cheese. A handful of shredded cheese is usually about two servings of cheese as opposed to one. Consider that a regular 8-ounce bag of shredded cheese has 8 servings in it. A note about cracker cut cheese: 3 small slices make a serving, so split each slice to enjoy the typical six-cracker serving without overdoing it.
There are three kinds of yogurt most brands offer: full fat, low-fat and non-fat. Full fat yogurt is considerably high in calories, and can run you 170 calories and 6 grams of fat in just 5.3 ounces. If you choose low or non-fat, make sure that you’re getting comparable packaging. Generally plain yogurt is in larger packaging than its sugar-sweetened cousin. You may save fat, but may get the same amount of calories if you don’t pay attention. Greek yogurt is all the rage of late with its additional protein content, but from a calorie standpoint, Greek yogurt can be king. It has a very high-fat content, at 9 to 10% milk fat as compared to the 3.5% milk fat in full fat traditional yogurt. That means 12 grams and 190 calories in a 5.3 ounce serving. Therefore, choose low-fat whenever possible. There is some deceptive labeling to watch out for as well. A typical serving should have around 15 grams of protein, or about 20 for an 8-ounce serving. Some brands have considerably less protein than this and may be thickened with pectin or other ingredients to resemble the texture of Greek yogurt.
What low-calorie dairy items have you switched to since you started counting calories?
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