Milk has been one of the most popular foods from the beginning of time. It’s still a regular staple of many peoples diets in the world.
But most people want to know does milk make you fat?
Milk has been demonized, along with other foods with fats in them, to the point most people avoid milk and dairy products all together.
People have swapped their butter for margarine and their milk for soy milk. This definitely isn’t a good thing.
Milk is a highly nutritious superfood people have been using for centuries to supercharge their body.
Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece would drink cream before competing for strength and endurance. There are a ton of nutrients in milk while keeping your blood sugars balanced.
In the past few decades, it’s been recommended to opt for skim milk instead of whole milk to avoid the saturated fats.
Yet, obesity has been on the rise ever since.
Here you’ll discover the truth about whole milk vs. skim milk and if milk will make you fat or help you lose belly fat.
So Does Milk Make You Fat?
There are different kinds of milk you should know about first. Then we’ll get down into the nitty gritty details if it makes you fat or not.
- Whole Milk: 3.25%
- 2% or reduced fat milk: 2%
- 1% or low-fat milk: 1%
- Skim milk or non-fat milk: 0.1%
As you can see in the above breakdown whole milk has more fat in it than low-fat milk and skim milk.
Since there are 9 calories per gram of fat you can be default expect to be consuming more calories. This comes with drinking whole milk than skim milk or non-fat milk.
This study by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine followed children who drank 3 or more servings a day of milk. These kids increased their BMI (Body Mass Index) compared to those who only drank 1-2 glasses of milk.
The researchers all agreed the reason these children ended up gaining weight wasn’t because of the fat content in the milk. It was because of the extra calories they were consuming.
Contrary to popular belief, they acknowledged skim and 1% milk resulted in higher BMI gains while higher dairy fat was not.
As you can see drinking milk isn’t what can make you fat but it’s the extra calories you could consume. Next, we’ll get down into why milk can help you lose weight.
Why Do People Think Whole Milk Is Bad
Drinking whole milk has been demonized for decades because of its high saturated fat content.
Mainstream nutrition experts have long been recommending skipping whole milk altogether. Instead they recommend going with non-fat or skim milk to limit your saturated fat intake.
Yet, there’s no empirical evidence this is true.
The reason behind this demonization of saturated fats began in 1977. The Initial Dietary Goals for Americans recommended limiting your fat intake, and increasing your carbohydrate intake.
They believed fats, cholesterol and salt were what was responsible for heart disease. But since then obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer rates have all been on the rise.
A meta-analysis found no significant evidence dietary saturated fat was at all associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease.
In this study researchers didn’t find any evidence switching your dietary fat intake for carbs resulted in any positive health outcomes.
Researchers have found milk can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol while also improving your HDL (good) cholesterol.
But all LDL cholesterol isn’t bad for you.
The saturated fats in whole milk can change your LDL cholesterol from small dense particles into larger and less harmful ones.
The smaller and denser LDL particles are for sure the bad guys when it comes to your heart health.
You Can Lose Weight Drinking Milk
The thing about drinking milk for weight loss is you’re still going to have to watch your calorie intake.
Drinking whole milk can help you lose weight if you’re following a low calorie diet.
When you drink whole milk you’ll be consuming 63 more calories than skim milk because the former has more calories in it.
Drinking skim milk is higher in protein and calcium than whole milk so there are some benefits to it.
The fats in whole milk help to regulate your blood sugar levels. This is important so they don’t spike causing your body to release insulin.
Out-of-whack insulin levels are largely responsible for gaining belly fat as they cause your body to store fat instead of burning it.
A study in Circulation analyzed the blood of 3,333 participants who drank whole milk. The researchers found they had a 46% less chance of getting diabetes than those with lower levels.
The lead researcher behind the study acknowledged…
“There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy.”
The BIG problem with taking fats out of your diet is it’s usually replaced by sugars and carbohydrates.
This is the real cause behind gaining weight and belly fat.
A study in the American Journal of Nutrition found in group of 18,438 women those who consumed high-fat dairy products were 8% less likely to be overweight than those who ate low-fat dairy.
Drinking Whole Milk Helps You Lose Weight
In a study review researchers found 11 out of 16 of those studies found absolute no correlation with consuming high-fat dairy products and a higher risk of obesity or heart disease.
As long as you’re keeping your calories in-check then you really don’t have to worry about gaining weight from eating full-fat dairy products.
In fact, you’re more likely to gain weight with low-fat or skim milk because you’ll end up replacing those fats with sugar or carbohydrates.
This study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of 20,000 men and women found those who had more than one serving of whole milk per day were 15% less likely to gain weight. They were compared to those who drank low-fat or skim milk during a 9 year period.
There’s zero evidence out there proving drinking whole milk will make you fat. Especially compared to drinking skim milk.
Another problem is when people are drinking their coffee and they add a ton of sugar in it along with their milk.
This is when it might not be the best idea to go with whole milk if you’re dumping a bunch of sugar into your coffee.
See my blog post on coffee and weight loss for more on why coffee can help you drop more belly fat.
Milk Helps You Lose Belly Fat
There’s nothing worse on your body than unwanted belly fat as it’s one of the hardest places on your body to lose weight.
Drinking more whole milk can help you get rid of belly fat faster.
This study of 1,782 men found those who had a higher intake of high-fat dairy were 48% less likely to develop abdominal obesity compared to those who drank low-fat milk.
This is super important as belly fat isn’t only unpleasant to look at. It’s also a huge concern for your heart health and increasing your risk of getting cancer.
A 2012 study published in Medicine and Sports Science found milk and other dairy products helped women lose undesirable body fat. The women also ended up gaining lean muscle.
This is good for your losing belly fat. It proves whole milk can help you to flatten your belly while helping you tone up with some lean muscle.
Drinking whole milk makes it easier to control your appetite. The less you’re overeating the more weight you’ll drop.
Whole milk is high in fat, protein and calcium having a powerful satiety effect on your stomach. This keeps hunger away so you don’t overeat on too many calories.
This 2005 study in Obesity Research found the calcium eaten in 3 servings per day of dairy resulted in participants reducing their body, belly and hip fat. Compared to those who only drank 1 serving of dairy per day.
Milk is one of my favorite belly fat burning foods you can literally take with you and drink wherever you go.
Why Drinking Milk Is Good For You
It’s crazy the rising levels of metabolic syndrome in the Western world today.
Metabolic syndrome is a name given to a group of risk factors including:
- insulin resistance
- abomdinal obesity
- low HDL cholesterol levels
- high triglyercides
Together these health risks can dramatically raise your risk of heart disease.
There are studies finding drinking whole milk can help to lower metabolic syndrome.
A study of 1,800 people found those with the highest intake of full-fat dairy products were 59% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
Another big study published in 2016 found those who consumed high-fat dairy products were less likely to have the signs of metabolic syndrome.
Interestingly, the researchers found those who consumed only low-fat dairy products were more likely to have metabolic syndrome.
This study published in Circulation found people who had the highest amounts of fatty acids in the bloodstream from full-fat dairy products were 44% less likely to develop diabetes. Compared to those who didn’t consume high-fat dairy.
It goes to show you how important including high fat dairy products in your diet can be. Not only help you lose weight, but to fight off metabolic diseases in your body that can lead to an early death.
Best Time To Drink Milk For Weight Loss
The best time to drink milk to help you lose weight will be before any big meal you’re going to eat.
I like to drink my whole milk earlier in the day before breakfast so I don’t binge eat afterwards.
The high fat content in milk will help to keep your stomach feeling fuller longer. This will keep your cravings lower than eating something sugary or carb rich.
Try drinking whole milk when it gets close to bed time too. The higher fat content will help keep away any “hunger pains” you may get while trying to sleep.
If you’re starving while your sleeping then you’re way more likely to have lesser quality of sleep.
When your sleep quality is garbage your body will release the hormone cortisol. This causes you to gain more belly fat.
Lack of sleep will reduce your willpower the next day. This causes you to make worst food choices than you normally would.
To lose weight I recommend having around 3 servings of whole milk or high-fat dairy products per day.
You can find more of my favorite weight loss drinks here.
By now you know the real answer to the question does milk make you fat?
There are tons of scientific studies that prove drinking whole milk can help you lose weight. Researchers found drinking skim milk can cause you to gain weight.
This 12 year study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care found those who consumed whole fat milk were significantly less likely to become obese. Compared to those who only consumed low-fat dairy products.
A higher fat diet is way better for most peoples body composition. But, you’re still going to have to watch your calorie intake if you want to keep the weight off.
Drinking whole milk will help to keep your belly feeling fuller longer so it’s not as tempting to eat those extra calories.
Most of the time people fail when cutting fats from whole milk out of their diets. They replace those calories with sugar and carbohydrates. This is a recipe for weight gain.
Instead, drink plenty of whole milk guilt-free throughout the day to help you lose weight and feeling good.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.