Milk vs Milk alternative?

Milk vs Milk alternative?

The popular saying “Milk, it does the body good”, has brought milk and its alternatives into mainstream media as a hot topic over the years.

We are all familiar with some of the common animals that milk can come from; cow, sheep, and goat milk being the most popularly consumed. However, there are also many “milk alternatives” available now, such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk and more. There are also options, varieties with cow’s milk such as flavors, lactose-free, added nutrients and less fat milk.

Some of the most common benefits of consuming milk are the nutrients it provides from calcium (bone and heart health), choline (sleep, muscles, memory), potassium (heart, bone, kidney) and Vit. D (bone and immune health), and also magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins A, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12.thefitnp, health, fitness, beachbody, milk, workout

I personally grew up on 2% milk. I did not drink it with every meal and mainly had it with cereal. Up until a few years ago, when I started learning more about health and nutrition, I did not even know there were other kinds of milk to choose from. Much less understand the nutritional benefits of them all.

I am not much of a milk drinker in general and typically only use milk products in my coffee and in my smoothies. Since I drink a daily nutritional supplement called Shakeology, I use almond or coconut milk as part of the liquid. I distribute this product so I have many people ask me the difference in milk to add to their Shakeology shake.  There are many milks out there and I believe it depends on your personal nutritional needs as to which you choose. Intolerance, allergies, caloric needs all play a role in what your body needs.

Below is a basic nutritional breakdown comparing popular milk and milk alternatives.






Skim Milk

45 calories

5g fat

1g fiber

1g sugar

0g protein

80 calories

4g fat

1g fiber

1g sugar

7g protein

30 calories

3g fat

1g fiber

0g sugar

1g protein










70 calories

5g fat

2g fiber

0g sugar

3g protein

70 calories

2.5g fat

0g fiber

1g sugar

0g protein


nutritional value, though often fortified with calcium, vit
A & D

83 calories

0 fat

0g fiber

12g sugar

8g protein


Also with added vitamins and minerals


Almond milk is made from ground almonds. It is free of cholesterol, saturated fat and naturally lactose free. Even though almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk is not. Almond milk is also not a good source of calcium but does have other naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Almond milk is lower in calories and fat than other milks.

Coconut Milk  is different in the can than in the carton. Carton is best for routine consumption. It does contain saturated fat, and is low in protein. However, has the lowest carb levels of alternative milks with  5 or 6 grams of carbs on average. The American Heart Association recommends to limit coconut milk consumption due to the saturated fat and needed research.

Soy milk is made from soybeans. It is free of cholesterol, contains minimal amounts of saturated fat and no lactose. Soybeans and soy milk are a good source of protein, calcium and potassium. Soy milk contains a similar amount of protein as cow’s milk. It is lower in calories than whole milk. However, phytoestrogen-rich soy has been linked to breast cancer. In addition, about 94% of soy milk is genetically modified in the US. 

Rice Milk is made from rice. It is free of cholesterol, saturated fat and is naturally lactose free, but is very low in protein. Rice milk has a milder flavor than almond or soy milk. Rice milk manufacturers promote their product as being safe for people with milk allergies, soy and nut allergies and lactose intolerance.

Hemp Milk has a  light creamy texture, rich source of plant-based omega 3 fats, the kind of fats that are healthy for the heart. Contains no protein content.

Skim or fat-free milk is cow’s milk with the fat removed, reducing the number of calories in a 1 cup serving from 150 in whole milk to just 90 calories. Fat free milk has all of the benefits of whole milk–a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals–without the saturated fat and calories. However, it does contain sugar. Skim milk is the preferred milk source recommended by dietitians.

Again, I believe it depends on your nutritional needs and just personal preference as to which milk you choose. Not all are created equal.

I do believe there are more positive benefits from drinking cow’s milk, however one would need to determine its content. For me most milk has a lot of sugar. However, this is also true for any product that contains dairy. Because there are many nutritional benefits of dairy or milk, if you choose not to drink cows milk, you would need to supplement your diet elsewhere. Genetically I have to be more aware of sugar content in all my intake, which means eliminating most “added” sugars the best I can or consume sparingly. Although some products have naturally occurring sugars, you just have to read your labels. There is also concern for introduction of hormone to the cow or GMO milk. All these reasons influence my reasoning for choosing milk alternative, which also could have potential for non-naturally occurring content.

My advice is to always read your labels and decide what you need nutritionally then pick.

Cheneil The Fit NP

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