Can Drinking Milk Help Me Lose Weight?Tayler Mikkelson
Contemporary Foods in Nutrition

June 21, 2014

It is hard to know whether or not a certain food or drink can help you lose weight, especially when it has multiple different kinds. Take milk for example (which we will be focusing on), whole milk, skim milk and 2% just to name a few. There are so many to choose from how do you know if it is benefiting you. There is no argument that milk is packed full of calcium that helps build strong bones (4), but what other effects does it have on your body? Is milk making me more muscular or is it actually helping pack on the pounds in a not so pleasing way? Different kinds of milk have different kinds of affect on the human body, so it is important to know which milk has which effect when it comes to weight loss. It is still a heated debate whether or not any kind of milk can help people lose weight, or if it is just another myth that is actually causing weight gain to frequent drinkers.


What Happens When I Drink Milk?



Health experts can agree that milk and milk products contain a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate and are a very important source of essential nutrients when they're consumed (8). A good balance of vitamins and minerals keeps the body fit and healthy for the most part. A good amount of diet and exercise is also required, but with the proper nutrients it is easy to stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight. Milk is a vital part of this because of the amount of nutrients that it provides for the human bodyA glass of milk contains three of the four nutrients that USDA deems under-consumed by most Americans—calcium, vitamin D and potassium.

Now to answer the question, "what happens when I drink milk?" Drinking higher amounts of milk and eating other dairy products may help people shed those extra pounds and keep them off (3). For adults who drank the most amount of milk in a day (12 ounces) lost about 12 pounds over a 6 month period more than people who drink less milk over a two year study (3). The study showed that two leading causes of this weight loss can be linked to higher amounts of calcium and vitamin d in people who drank more milk. "Our study suggests that both higher dairy calcium intake and increased [blood] vitamin D are related to greater diet-induced weight loss," conclude the researchers, who were led by Danit R. Shahar, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel (3). This isn't necessary because the calcium is burning or eating our fat in our body. Less than half of the population is able to digest lactose (2), so the weight loss linked to drinking milk may possibly be linked to this which commonly causes more frequent stool. The participants of the study that were overweight typically had lower levels of vitamin D at the start of the study, but as vitamin D levels increased so did the amount of weightless seen in these overweight participants. "Low vitamin D is associated with weight gain, and raising vitamin D is looking more and more like it is able to help with weight loss," says Vincent Pera, MD, director of the Miriam Hospital Weight Management Program in Providence, R.I. (3). That being said a number of researchers have been able to link weight loss with higher amounts of milk intake by means of calcium and vitamin D.

Drawbacks of Milk
Milk is known for being very high in saturated fats which is typically one of the biggest causes of many health problems in the future like heart disease (5). Of course, milk doesn't contain as much fat as other junk foods or other sugary drink like pop, but it should not be consumed in excess.
As beverages go, milk is relatively high in calories. One cup of 2% milk has 138 calories, for instance. Drinking three cups a day adds 366 calories to the diet -- a lot for anyone watching their weight (1).
Too much milk can actually cause obesity in children and adults. Milk and dairy products are also being suspected as one of the leading causes of childhood obesity in the United States (6). As mentioned before lactose intolerance is something very common in adults who never experienced symptoms as children and is another drawback of milk intake. Another argument against milk is whether or not it actually helps build strong bones, “One of the main arguments for USDA recommendations is that drinking milk or equivalent dairy products will reduce the risk of fractures. But in fact there’s very little evidence that milk consumption is associated with reduced fractures,” Willett tells WebMD (1).

The Different Types of Milk

what type of milk is best
what type of milk is best

"Dairy milk comes in many varieties to match the wide range of consumer preferences. (7)
  • Do you like your milk creamy but not too rich? Then low-fat milk is a good choice. (7)
  • Do you prefer a light taste and low calories? Then fat-free milk might be for you. (7)
  • Do you have trouble digesting lactose? Then a lactose-free milk might be your best choice. (7)
  • Is your baby a year old and being weaned from the bottle? Then select whole milk for their second year of life. (7)
  • Need boxes of milk to put in your child's lunch box? The single portion, shelf-stable milk boxes will meet your need. (7)"

There are many different types of milk and each one has something that makes it different than the rest.
The primary types of milk sold in stores are: whole milk, reduced-fat milk (2%), low-fat milk(1%), and fat-free milk. The percentages included in the names of the milk indicate how much fat is in the milk by weight. (7) Whole milk is typically packed with the most calories and for people who are looking to cut back on their calorie intake they should seek out skim milk or low fat milk. There are also various milks that are organic or lactose free for those who have issues digesting lactose.

Final Thoughts

There are still debates on whether or not milk is good for you when it comes to weight loss, but I believe it is plain to see where most research and researchers lie. Milk has many health benefits of its consumers and weight loss seems to be one of them. Like anything good there are drawbacks. With these drawbacks in mind it is important to remember that milk like anything else should be consumed in moderation so that weight gain or other long term health problems do not occur. With all the options to choose from it can be confusing, so in order to stick to milk's benefits people should avoid whole milk and stick to the healthier options like skim or fat free milk.

1. Jaret, P. (n.d.). The Pros and Cons of Milk and Dairy. WebMD. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
2. Lactose intolerance. (n.d.). Genetics Home Reference. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
3. Mann, D. (2010, September 22). Milk Drinkers May Lose More Weight. WebMD. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
4. Milk. (n.d.). Better Health Channel. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
5. Nutrients in Milk. (n.d.). Dairy Council of California. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
6. Stein, R. (2005, June 7). Study: More Milk Means More Weight Gain. Washington Post. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
7. Types of Milk: including whole, low-fat, skim, fat-free, organic, and rBST-free. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
8. Weight Loss Myth? Milk can Help You Lose Weight. (n.d.). / Fitness / Weight Loss. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from