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Milk and its Ilk: How Many Calories are in That Glass?

Tim Boyer's picture
calories in a glass of milk

You have switched from whole milk to 2%, and then went from 2% to 1%, and maybe have even gone as far as making a glass of skim milk your morning drink for helping to cut out fat calories toward weight loss. Great job! But do you know how many calories are in that glass of milk alternatives like coconut, soy, rice, almond, and yes, even hemp milk?


According to the September issue of Consumer Reports, milk alternatives have caught the attention of consumers with 21% of Americans reporting that they are now buying milk alternatives. Here is a summary on just how many calories are in that 8-ounce glass of milk and its alternatives, plus a few selected pros and cons that you need to know about each.

Cow’s Milk Facts

Whole milk: 146 calories/ 7.93 grams of fat

2% Milk: 122 calories/ 4.81 grams of fat

1% Milk: 102 calories/ 2.4 grams of fat

Skim Milk: 86 calories/ 0.44 grams of fat

Pros: Good source of protein for muscle building and great source of calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D for strong bones.

Cons: Lactose intolerance and/or milk protein allergies for some people.

Coconut Milk Facts (unsweetened or original)

• 40-80 calories/ 4.5-5 grams of fat

Pros: Carton packed sources are typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D and possibly B12.

Consumer Reports ranks Silk Almond-Coconut Blend Original as the tastiest coconut milk alternative.

Cons: No protein, nearly as much fat as 2% cow’s milk.

Soy Milk Facts (low-fat plain)

• 60-90 calories/1.5-2 grams of fat

Pros: Soy milk comes the closest nutritionally to cow’s milk, but with less calories and fat.

Cons: Some brands contain added sugar and may be grown from genetically modified seeds. Look for the USDA organic seal or the non-GMO label on the carton.

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Rice Milk Facts (unsweetened)

• 90-130 calories/2-2.5 grams of fat

Pros: Among the least allergenic beverages and may be vitamin fortified in some brands.

Cons: Food products made from rice offer a risk of arsenic exposure. Consumer Reports advises drinking no more than ½ cup of rice milk a day and not to give to children under 5 years of age on a regular basis.

Almond Milk Facts (unsweetened plain)

• 30-50 calories/ 2-2.5 grams of fat

Pros: Manufactured from ground almonds and water, it is naturally low in fat and calories and it is usually vitamin fortified as well.

Cons: Low protein source and some brands sweeten it with the equivalency of 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Hemp Milk Facts

70-140 calories/ 5-7 grams of fat

Pros: Although hemp milk can be as high in fat as whole cow’s milk, this is the good omega-3 and omega-6 fats that you want. It also comes fortified with calcium and vitamins B12 and D.

Cons: Hemp is an acquired taste and as such may be sweetened with sugar such as cane juice or brown rice syrup. CR warns that brown rice syrup may contain arsenic.

Best-Tasting Alternative Milk

Consumer Reports rated Silk Soymilk Vanilla and Blue Diamond Almond’s Almond Breeze Original as their top best-taste choices for alternative milk. However, both have added sugar so you will want to check the label closely and judge for yourself calories over taste.

For an informative article about milk and your child’s health, here is a health warning about one hidden milk allergen in school that children with milk allergies need to avoid.

And, if you have to have coffee with that milk, here are 3 coffee choices that won't add inches to your waist.

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference: Consumer Reports, September 2014 issue



Yes! I drink Almond Breeze....but not because I knew all of this. It just tastes best.