Lactose intolerance causes bloated tummy during middle age

This is a long blog post about my experience and I encourage you to read the whole story if you have desperately tried to lose the fat on your belly as a middle aged male.  To fully understand my case, let us go back to my mid-40s, approximately 5 years ago (I wish I had kept notes on my weight, waist size, etc.), when I noticed that I no longer had the flat tummy of my youth.  It was a minor change and since my wife made fun of my belly, I completely freaked out.  I did not want to end up being yet another middle aged dude with a potbelly.  I doubled up on my workout and radically changed my diet to eliminate almost all fat.  For a 5'8" man, I dropped my weight from about 132 pounds to 120 pounds.  I was at the very low end of my BMI and started wearing 28" pants but the saddest part is that my tummy stayed.  It protruded out as if it was another part of my body.  In retrospect I suspect that being almost underweight and eating a very low fat diet contributed to my low-T.

Mission to raise Testosterone level:  As I have been documenting here, for about 2 years, I thought that my abdomen had fat on it because of the drop in Testosterone, a scientific fact.  I am happy to say that my Testosterone levels are back to above normal and I am in my best health ever.  The problem is that my abdomen still stood out and I wear 30" pants.  All this time, I kept telling myself not to give up and just keep working hard on strength training, martial arts, and healthy diet with minimal alcohol.

How wrong I was about my pot belly?  Well, about 6 months ago, I went to Berlin and Prague on a 10-day vacation.  One thing that I clearly noticed when I returned home was how light I fell and I attributed it to lots of walking as a tourist.  I even told myself that I should walk even more whenever I can.  After that I got so busy and did not get a chance to take a vacation until earlier this month.  This time I went to Los Angeles and Las Vegas and had a rental car, so a lot less walking.  However, I felt exactly the same, very light.  After thinking about it, my wife and I nailed it down to our diets and concluded that I had very little milk.  When I am at home and eat my large bowl of oatmeal at breakfast after a solid workout, I put a lot of whole milk in it and for a while I was even adding scoops of milk whey protein to it.  And because I am mostly a vegetarian, I rely on milk, yogurt and cheeses for my protein intake.  In other words, throughout my whole life, I have consumed a lot of milk without any problem.

So could it be that -- like so many folks who have given up dairy and found health Nirvana -- I had become intolerant to lactose and that was causing bloating and distention of the abdomen?  Well, I decided to find out and gave up all milk and its derivatives.  Within 24 hours, I felt light and my abdomen started to shrink.  In 3 days, I felt I was a different person.  While I used to think of those dairy-free types as a cult, I acquired a new appreciation for their views.  It seems that over the years, as happens with age to a lot of people, I had developed intolerance to lactose, the sugar found in milk.  This was causing gas in my abdomen and giving me the appearance of a tummy when I am still at the very low end of my acceptable weight.  I also learned that extended bloating in abdomen can also lead to water retention, which I noticed on my legs, hands, and even face.  Within a week, my bloating disappeared completely, my body was no longer retaining water, I felt extremely light, and waist shrank by almost 2 inches.  It has been one of the most remarkable experiences of my life healthwise.

Living with Lactose Intolerance:  I am still new to this and I will need to make extra effort to get my protein and calcium, but right now I have switched to home-made almond milk (soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water overnight and next morning add 3 cups of water and blend them in a blender; I do not filter and just add some to my oatmeal -- do not recommend buying packaged almond milk since they have other ingredients and it is so easy to make your own at home).  I also advise against switching to soy milk since soybeans can lower Testosterone.  You may also need to make sure that you get enough vitamin D, calcium and protein.