News: Why Skim, Low, & Reduced-Fat Milk Are Actually Worse for You Than Whole Milk

Why Skim, Low, & Reduced-Fat Milk Are Actually Worse for You Than Whole Milk

I don't drink a lot of milk, so when I do, it's always whole milk. I'll drink two-percent if it's the only kind available, but skim? I'd rather have none at all. Tons of people buy reduced fat milk because they're trying to eat healthier, but to me, the extra calories are totally worth it. And, contrary to popular belief, whole milk is actually better for you anyway.

Just like diet soda, the downsides of reducing the number of calories in milk outweigh the benefits. Studies have found that consuming full-fat dairy products correlates with a lower risk of excessive weight gain around the stomach.

There are a number of reasons for this. We tend to think that eating fat makes you fat, but that's not necessarily the case. Too much is obviously a bad thing, but you need a certain amount of fat, and not all fats are equal. Saturated and trans fats can cause weight gain, but monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are actually good for you.

According to nutritionist Walter Willett, the fatty acids in milk could have a positive effect on weight regulation, and whole milk has more of them. It also makes you feel more full, so you eat less overall. Low fat dairy products are more likely to have excess sugar, which is definitely worse for you than the extra calories from fat.

You can find more details along with links to relevant studies in Willett's interview with New Scientist.

Whole vs skim milk photo by Muffet/Flickr, Fat cat image via Telegraph

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Skim milk does not have any added sugar, unless you are choosing a flavored kind. Also whole milk has saturated fat which like you said is bad for you.

I drink milk everyday and I only drink whole :)
Best stuff ever. Everything else tastes thin and lifeless.

I have never commented randomly on the internet before, but as a student of physiology I just have to correct this.

First of all, the article states that poly and monounsaturated fats are good for you and help regulate your weight, while saturated fats can cause weight gain. This is true. But milk is nearly completely comprised of saturated fats, which also raise your LDL count.

"Fatty Acids" is just a fancy term the nutritionist is throwing around. All triglycerides (fats) are composed of fatty acids, and since milk fat is saturated, these fatty acids are going to have a negative effect on weight management.

Claiming that low fat milk has excess sugar possibly refers to the trend that lower fat foods tend to have higher sugar to compensate for taste. But no manufacturers add sugar to milk.

The nutritionist is correct, whole milk will make you feel more full. But seeking higher satiety from saturated fats is misguided - you may eat a bit less, but every gram has more than twice the calories (9 grams compared to 4 grams) than sugars or proteins, which more than cancels the effect.

In moderation, whole milk is not inherently bad. But if your goal is weight loss, definitely go with skim.

Thanks, John--it's always good to hear the other side of the debate.

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