Got Milk Substitutes? Weighing the Health Benefits against the Real Thing

By Rachel Wyman
Clinical Nutrition Educator

Balanced meal planning for weight management requires calorie reduction while still supplying necessary nutrients for optimal wellness. Obviously, milk varieties contain calories, so you should always take into consideration exactly what nutrients they provide. Is your choice of milk providing you with nutrients your body needs? Or, is it simply adding extra calories?

When the goal is to reduce your calorie intake, the simple advice is to choose skim cow’s milk over whole cow’s milk, or unsweetened plant-based milk substitutes over the sweetened varieties.

But how does your favorite milk variety compare to others, and how can it be effectively incorporated in your weight management meal plan? These details on several milk varieties can help you choose the right one for you:

Skim Milk – 80 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 12g carbohydrate, 8g protein

Unsweetened Soy Milk – 80 calories, 4g fat, 0g saturated fat, 4g carbohydrate, 7g protein

Unsweetened Almond or Cashew Milk – 30 calories, 2.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 1g carbohydrate, 1g protein

Unsweetened Coconut Milk – 45 calories, 4g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, <1g carbohydrate, 0g protein

Unsweetened Hemp Milk – 80 calories, 8g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 1g carbohydrate, 2g protein

Unsweetened Pea Protein Milk – 70 calories, 4.5g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g carbohydrate, 8g protein

The nutrition facts above are based on an 8-ounce serving of each milk variety. Take these facts into consideration as you develop your meal plan, and choose the best milk for the nutrients your need. It’s also worth noting that it’s always best to stay hydrated with zero-calorie fluids, so drink water for thirst instead of milk.


Rachel Wyman, RD, is Clinical Nutrition Educator at Mission Weight Management.

To learn more about Mission Weight Management and to sign up for a free information session, call (828) 213-4100 or visit missionweight.org [1].