Metro Bariatrics - Amir Moazzez MD, FACS

The Milk Dilemma

By: Erin Grayson, RD

Besides cow’s milk, there are so many other non-dairy options to choose from these days — from soy and rice to coconut, flaxseed, and hemp. So which should you choose? Let’s take a look at how these “milks” stack up nutritionally.

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As you can see from the chart above, skim cow’s milk and coconut milk are the lowest calorie options (per cup). But, when you compare the two you see that coconut milk is much higher in fat and lower in protein. In my opinion, skim milk is the best choice are far as calories and protein go. Cow’s milk is a natural good source of whey protein, a high-quality protein with all of the essential amino acids (“building blocks”) your body needs. Whey protein is also one of the best sources of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), including leucine, which has been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Whole and 2% milk contain unnecessary saturated fat so always choose skim or 1% low fat milk; your heart and waistline will thank you.

Lactose intolerances are common- about 25% of the U.S. population is unable to digest lactose (the sugar naturally found in milk). If this is the case, then it may be beneficial to look to an alternative source of milk. Almond milk and soy milk are both options that are easily found in the grocery store. Per cup, almond milk is lower in calories than the soy milk, but soy milk provides more grams of protein.

It is important that you consider your dietary needs and any allergies you may have when researching your milk options. Keep in mind that any flavored milks (Vanilla Soy or Chocolate cow’s milk) will be higher in calories and have unnecessary added sugars to them. If you have any questions about the right milk for you, contact one of our Dietitians.

Reference: Which Non-Dairy Milks are Best? By Kelly Plowe MS, RD (