Weight Loss Experts Agree: These Are The Best Types Of Milk To Use For Your Protein Smoothie


Smoothies can be a great way to incorporate several nutritious foods into your diet. From fruits to vegetables, this beverage helps nourish your body with the essential vitamins and nutrients that it needs. Similar to green juice, smoothies have health benefits such as boosting your weight loss efforts and jumpstarting your metabolism. Of course, these are only possible as long as you use the right ingredients.

In particular, one ingredient that most smoothies have is milk. Obviously, there are so many kinds available in the market. There’s soy milk, non-fat milk, skim milk, and more. With all these options to choose from, which type of milk exactly is the best for a smoothie? We spoke with Dr. Melina Jampolis, MD, board-certified physician nutrition specialist and Dr. Jamie McManus, MD FAAFP and Chair Medical Affairs at Shaklee to find out.  Read on to see what they have to say. Keep reading to know more.

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Coconut Milk

According to Dr. Melina, “The answer to this question depends on your dietary preferences.” Before anything else, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions. Are you vegan or vegetarian? What is your health history? Do you take thyroid medication for low thyroid? Are you lactose intolerant, sensitive to soy, or allergic to tree nuts? Also, what protein are you adding to the smoothie—protein powder, Greek yogurt, or no added protein at all? Answering these primary questions will further help you figure out what type of milk to choose for your drink.

“I often recommend unsweetened coconut milk to patients as it has only 45 calories per cup,” says Dr. Melina. “Coconut milk is made from water and coconut cream with added vitamins, xantham gum, and guar gum (which are used for thickening and stabilizing).” She notes, “Xantham gum does provide a little fiber but not a significant amount. The vitamin B12 that is often added helps support energy production and the vitamin D and calcium support bone health. [Among many other things], vitamin D [also] supports immune health). The added magnesium, albeit only 10 percent, can help support healthy blood sugar and blood pressure. Since the majority of Americans are deficient in this, [coconut milk] could be helpful. This is a good option whether you are following a vegan diet or a ketogenic diet [since] it is one of the most versatile ‘milks’ you can drink.”

Dr. Melina adds, “While higher in saturated fat, according to one product’s label, 60 percent of that is medium chain triglycerides—a type of fat that may have some metabolic benefits (decreasing appetite and increasing metabolism slightly).” However, she clarifies that “the amounts in coconut milk beverage are quite small, so the benefit may be minimal and further research is required to support this claim.”

Ultimately, Dr. Melina says that “having fat in your smoothie can help you feel fuller longer (along with protein and fiber).” She recommends adding “at least 14 grams (or more) of protein and fiber from seeds, fruit and/or vegetables to make your smoothie the healthiest, most satiating, and [most] nutritious meal possible.”

Non-Fat Dairy Milk

Aside from coconut milk, another type you might want to consider is non-fat dairy milk. Dr. McManus mentions, “Actually, the best milk to use when you make a protein smoothie is regular old dairy milk, preferably non-fat. Milk has the highest protein content per ounce—9 grams per 8 oz serving.”

She shares, “It is an excellent source of branch-chain amino acids, especially leucine which helps preserve muscle mass and metabolism. [As a result], it helps with losing more fat during weight loss.” For those who are dairy or lactose-sensitive, Dr. McManus suggests trying non-dairy plant-based milks like soy milk or pea. “They have the highest protein content of the plant-based options. An 8 oz soy milk delivers 7 grams of protein and pea milk has 8 g protein. [Alternatively], milk and coconut milk only deliver 1 gram of protein.”

At the end of the day, Dr. McManus points out that “it’s all about the protein, and in particular the branch-chain amino acids.” She emphasizes, “Protein scores high on satiation—-meaning it satisfies your hunger because it is slowly digested and absorbed compared to carbs or fat. This also means it has less of an effect on blood sugar (glycemic index) which also helps with hunger management. There are numerous studies that validate milk consumption with better weight loss results. Milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. It helps preserve and build bone and muscle mass.”

And in case you didn’t know, muscle mass is essential for a stronger metabolism, which is key to losing weight. So the next time you’re at the grocery store, think about adding coconut milk and non-fat dairy milk to your shopping list!

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