Before I begin with describing the individual types of milk options you can choose from, it is important to note that for some of you, the lactose tolerance will be the determining factor above anything else. If you’re lactose intolerant, choosing a gallon of cow’s milk is not the best idea so be sure to consider any allergies, intolerances or other health-related issues first.
Additionally, some milk brands that offer low-fat options of milk add a huge amount of sugar in the milk instead. Make sure to check out the nutrition labels and do not get happy too quickly when choosing a low-fat milk. If the milk has negligible fat content but contains excessive amounts of added sugars, consider selecting a different brand. With many milk brands, you can generally pick an unsweetened option that should be without added sugars but will taste a little plain if you are not used to unsweetened products.
As the name suggests, soy milk is derived from soybeans and is a great alternative to dairy. Quality unsweetened soy milk will give you a thick milky taste, high-protein content and a low amount of fat and calories per serving. Unsweetened soy milk can taste rather bland by itself but has a great protein shake potential! Personally, I love using soy milk when dieting down due to its lower fat and calorie content and high-protein profile. Soy milk is also very rich in calcium and vitamin B12 perfect for optimal bone health and proper functioning body. One cup of organic silk soy milk contains 80 calories, 4g of fat, 3g of carbs, and 8g of protein.
Almond milk is an amazing alternative to cow’s milk for various reasons. One of them, as previously mentioned with soy milk, is the fact that if you’re lactose intolerant you should probably drink milk derived from different sources than cow’s milk. Milk gained from squeezing out almonds is one of the alternatives. Besides the decent calcium content per serving, almond milk has fewer calories, but also very limited protein content in comparison to other types of milk. I probably wouldn’t opt for almond milk if the protein is the focus, soy or cow’s milk would be better protein-dense choices if you’re lactose tolerant and don’t mind buying soy products. However, almond milk has a very pleasant smooth taste and is a great option for fat loss diets when you are looking for food sources with low calories and a healthy profile.
Another milk type that is not so conventional and widely used. Rice milk is a gluten & lactose-free alternative for cow’s milk but is a little carbohydrate-heavy due to rice being the source of the milk. One cup of rice milk contains over 20g of carbs which can easily add up, especially if you are watching your carbohydrate intake. However, calorie wise, rice milk can still be considered a great healthy option, containing only 125 calories per serving, 3g of fat, and a considerable amount of calcium – 300 mg – that makes up approximately 37% of the daily recommended intake of calcium in one serving. This milk option is great to include in baking for its unique taste and texture. Homemade vanilla rice pudding never tasted so good!
Keeping the list with interesting food options would be hard without coconut milk. This healthy milk option is a little fattier than the other types mentioned above, however, its smooth coconut flavor makes your recipes taste like you are in the Caribbean. Once again, a coconut milk is a great lactose and gluten-free option to include in your diet. But if you are looking for a high-protein milk source, you should probably grab a carton of soy milk or cow’s milk instead. One serving of original coconut milk has 80 calories, 5g of fats, 7g of carbs, and no protein. Keeping milk in your diet when you are cutting back calories but still want to enjoy your favorite smoothies and homemade ice cream is really easy with coconut milk!
The usual Moo juice is still a great option for you if you want to include milk in your diet. One cup of regular whole milk contains around 150 calories, 8g of protein, 12.8g of carbs, and 8g of fats. However, for some of you who are lactose intolerant, this option is out of the question. Pretty much all of the carbs come from the lactose and if your body cannot tolerate lactose, you may need to skip out on adding cow’s milk to your favorite protein shake after working out. As mentioned above, when looking at buying lower fat milk types, make sure to check out the added sugars to make sure you are not replacing fat content with sugars.
Take Home Message
Plenty of milk options are available for you in any grocery store. You definitely do not need to miss out on the milk flavors if you are lactose intolerant or need to focus on gluten-free sources of foods. Many healthy milk alternatives exist and hopefully, you will be able to select some on your next grocery store trip after reading this list. Depending on your goals, some of the milk options may be able to offer you high protein content while other will be great for keeping your overall calories down while keeping the milk taste in your diet!