You know the world’s confused about healthy eating when even milk is a conundrum. Recently, a lot of folks have asked me about whether there are any benefits of switching from cow milk to almond milk, soy milk, or another milk alternative. We all know a milk mustache is super-cute...but I mustache ya which milk ya gona pick?!
First, let’s talk about good, ole' cow's skim milk!
With 90 calories a cup, 8 grams of protein, and 12 grams of carbs, its a great balance of protein & carb for the performance-concerned athlete (since athletes need more carbs, ya dig?). However, the 12 grams of carb per serving (meaning more than half of its calories per serving is from the sugar, lactose) does mean cow's milk is a carb-y choice in comparison to other milks.
My biggest issue with skim milk is that its missing out on the powerful benefits of healthy fat!! If you can afford to buy grass-fed milk, its definitely worth the extra mulah. Grass-fed means the type of fat in cow's milk is loaded with healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats (similar to the healthy fats in salmon!!). This fat not only helps you stay thinner, fuller longer, and prevents scary diseases such as diabetes; but it balances the carb content in the milk. I'm a big fan of grass-fed milk for those who do not have a lactose intolerance!
Well, there’s a lot of them (no wonder everyone’s confused!) which is awesome because different milks impart different flavors and consistencies to your healthy-eats! Remember that all of the below are comparing the UNSWEETENED versions! Added sugar is never healthy!
Let's make this one concise and clear. Do not drink soy milk. Phytoestrogens found in soy are not healthy for anyone. While whole-food forms of soy, such as edamame and tofu, contain fiber, protein and fat to prevent the over-ingestion of phytoestrogen, processed soy products (ie. soymilk or soy protein) can contain high amounts of phytoestrogens. Just not worth it. There's tons of other options.
Rice milk is naturally sweet, making it a great vegan alternative for baking.
However, one cup of plain rice milk has 120 calories, 23 grams of carbohydrate, and 1 gram of protein. With over 75% calories from sugar, I’d choose cow milk over this milk alternative anyday.
With a unique flavor, this milk can add a unique flava-flave to your morning protein powder/oatmeal routine.
Per cup, plain coconut milk has 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrate, and 1 gram of protein. With most of its caloric value from fat, its not a bad choice, but choosing foods which are highest in protein, fiber, and water density is always a better choice.
With a yummy nutty flavor & a huge serving of the antioxidant vitamin E, almond milk definitely has delicious perks to offer!
A one cup serving of plain unsweetened almond milk provides 45 calories, 3.5 grams (mostly unsaturated) fat, 1 gram of carbohydrate, and 1 gram protein. Meaning most of its calories are from fat, but, with so few calories per cup (and so little sugar), its a great choice nevertheless.
Oat milk has a creamy mouth feel, and is an awesome vegan friendly alternative to use when making mashed cauliflower/squash (because you guys would never make mashed potatoes now, right?? :p).
One cup of low fat, plain oat milk contains 130 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 24 grams of carbohydrate, and 4 grams of protein. With 73% of calories from sugar, oat milk is not the best cow milk alternative.
Fortified hemp milk has more calcium than cow milk! Chuck full of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly sweet, this is an awesome option for smoothies.
One cup of plain hemp milk contains 110 calories, 7 grams (mostly unsaturated) fat, 6 grams carb, and 5 grams of protein… meaning the majority of its calories are from fat & protein to keep you fuller longer without spiking blood sugar.
So while every milk has its time and place (and of course, different brands will vary!), unsweetened almond and coconut are most victorious in my opinion since they're both yummy & low carb.
Of course, everyone’s macronutrient needs are different and thus this generalization cannot be applied to absolutely everyone!
Anyone switch from cow milk to a milk alternative lately? What was your experience? What other milk alternatives have you tried (or are curious about!) that I did not mention above?