Which Milk Is Best For Weight Loss?
"I just want milk that tastes like real milk – but is also low in calories, high in protein, has adequate fat and no added sugar."
When did milk become so confusing?
Not too long ago, our milk choices were either full fat or skim. But now, the supermarket fridge is a little busier. Coconut, almond, soy, rice, hemp, oat and cashew are just some milk alternatives gaining popularity.
Choosing the right milk is no easy task, so let's look at Australia's top milk choices and unpack the pros and cons of each.
Unsweetened Almond Milk
Almond milk is the most popular milk alternative today - most likely because it has the lowest calories. One cup of almond milk has just 44 calories, which is drastically lower than regular milk which has 155 calories per cup. These days, it would be rare to find a café that didn't stock almond milk, so it's a safe bet. The downfall? It has one of the lowest protein contents of any milk alternative. So if you are drinking almond milk, ensure you are getting your protein from other sources.
Unsweetened Oat Milk
Oat milk is fast gaining popularity in the world of milk. This vegan alternative is made by blending water and oats and then straining out the liquid. It surprisingly tastes pretty close to cow's milk with a pleasantly creamy texture. Oat milk has around the same number of calories than cow's milk. However, it does come with more carbs and less protein than cow's milk. While the carborhydrates found in oats are complex carbs that are essential to your health, those on a low carb diet may want to keep a watch on their overall daily carb intake.
Oat milk is a good alternative for those with intolerances to dairy and soy. Compared to almond milk it does have 3 times more calories than almond milk and signifcantly higher carbs. So, when it comes to weight loss, almond milk may be a better choice.
*Calories, carb, fat and protein content (per cup) for popular milk and milk alternatives.
Soy milk is the only milk that comes close to matching the protein content of regular milk. It's also low in saturated fat, which is beneficial when you're aiming to lose weight. However, soy is a prevalent allergen. Soy contains estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones, with some research linking these compounds with impaired female fertility and compromised thyroid function. In short, with so many milk alternatives out there, it makes sense to steer clear of soy.
Regular cow's milk ranks number one in terms of highest calories and fat. If you're having a couple of coffees a day, plus adding milk to your smoothie, you might find your daily calories are adding up quite quickly. The benefit? The higher fat content will keep you satiated and fuller for longer. So, you might find you don't need as many snacks throughout the day.
Low Fat Cow's Milk
For those who don't want to give up real milk but want to shed some extra kilos, low fat cow's milk might be your best bet. With 53 fewer calories and 5.8g less fat than regular cow's milk, transitioning to low fat might be the key to shifting those stubborn kilos.
Just keep in mind that dairy and lactose are common allergens. Lactose intolerance, in particular, is common in mums and bubs and often goes undiagnosed. If you’re noticing you’re bloated, gassy or nauseous; this could be due to lactose.
If your bub is crying for extended periods or is extremely unsettled, it could indicate that they’re intolerant. If you suspect your baby has a diary or lactose intolerance, it’s essential to seek advice from your doctor/pediatrician.
So, which milk is best for weight loss?
If you're up for transitioning to a milk alternative, almond milk has the lowest calories, by a long shot. If you're not quite ready to break up with cow's milk but have difficulty shifting weight, opt for low fat or reduce the amount of full-fat milk you're consuming.
If you’re transitioning from cow’s milk to a milk alternative, it’s vital to ensure you’re meeting your calcium requirements through other food sources. Sardines and dark leafy green vegetables and two great non-dairy options. You can also find non dairy milks fortified with calcium.
Finally, remember to always read the ingredients list when shopping for a new milk alternative; some brands have added sugar to enable a longer shelf life. Opt for alternatives with the shortest ingredient list and choose an unsweetened version to make sure your milk doesn't get in the way of your weight loss goals.
Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As a new mum herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.
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