The Scoop on Lower-Carb 'Milk Drinks'

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There are many non-dairy drink options available in supermarket dairy cases these days. Whether people are allergic to cow's milk or avoid it for other reasons, finding delicious milk alternatives is relatively easy. Although almond milk saw a 79% increase in sales last year, soy milk has been the leading dairy alternative for years. Recent reports indicate that in 2011 soy milk comprised 68.7% of the dairy alternative beverage market followed by almond milk (21.2%), rice milk (7.2%), and coconut milk (2.6%).

Did you know that science has created a way for people to enjoy the nutrition of milk but with less carbohydrates, sugar, and calories? Perhaps you have seen milk beverages or milk drinks on supermarket shelves as well. They might not catch your attention if you don't live with diabetes or aren't seeking new ways to control carbohydrate-containing foods to manage blood glucose levels. However, for those who are, it is exciting to see these new options on store shelves. Here is some information to help you decide if a dairy beverage is right for you.

Milk products must meet a specific standard of identity and contain at least 90 percent milk. Milk drinks or milk beverages on the other hand can have as little as 51 percent milk to still be considered a dairy product. Milk beverages and drinks are often made using modified milk ingredients, a sweetener, and a flavoring preparation. Public Health Dietitian Lesia Hucal stated that creating them is sort of like building a milk product out of used milk parts. Commonly, modified milk ingredients are created through an untrafiltration process that separates milk components by size. Larger milk proteins and milk fat are retained while the water, lactose, and minerals permeate through the filtration membrane. The fluid product (ultra filtered milk) is lower in lactose and higher in protein compared to regular milk. A diafiltration process removes more carbohydrate and even more lactose and minerals.  
UF milk has been used commercially since 1996 but mostly from whole milk. UF skim milk have become popular in the last several years. UF ingredients are used to produce lower carbohydrate versions of milk and other dairy products like Hood Calorie Countdown Diary Beverage or Dannon Light 'n Fit Carb Control Cultured Dairy Snack.  Milk is nutritionally better than the calorie controlled counter part because it provides more protein, vitamins A, D, and calcium per cup. Here is how they stack up against one another.
Skim/Fat Free Milk (1 cup serving)
Calories – 86
Fat – 0 grams
Protein – 8 grams
Carbohydrate – 12 grams
Sugars – 12 grams
Calcium – 50%
Vitamin A – 23%
Vitamin D – 25%
Calorie Countdown Fat Free Dairy Beverage (1 cup serving)
Calories – 35
Fat – 0 grams
Protein – 6 grams
Carbohydrate – 4 grams
Sugar – 3 grams
Calcium – 30%
Vitamin A – 10%
Vitamin D – 30%
Here is a comparison with the three other leading non-dairy alternatives:
Plain/Original Soy Drink (1 cup serving)
Calories – 70-130
Fat – 2-4 grams
Protein – 5-8 grams
Carbohydrate – 8-16 grams
Sugars – 6-9 grams
Original Almond Drink (1 cup serving)
Calories – 50-60
Fat – 2.5 grams
Protein – 1 gram
Carbohydrate – 6-8 grams
Sugar – 5-6 grams
Plain Rice Drink (1 cup serving)
Calories – 80-130
Fat – 2-2.5 grams
Protein – 1 gram
Carbohydrate – 16-27 grams
Sugars – 8-14 grams
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reports "intake of milk and milk products, including fortified soy beverages, is less than recommended amounts." American adults are encouraged to include at least 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or the equivalent in their diet each day. Children and youth need 2 - 2 ½ equivalent cups each day. One cup of milk provides one serving of carbohydrates for those that are following a controlled carbohydrate meal plan for medical reasons. Milk beverages and drinks provide another beverage alternative offering the taste of milk without the heavy carbohydrate load. If you are trying to maintain tighter control of blood glucose levels and dairy has been a problem, these dairy alternatives might be something to check out at your local Walmart and other retailers near you.  
Have you seen milk beverages at your local supermarket? What are some of the pros and cons you see with this alternative?

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My milk of choice is Almond unsweetened with no sugar and only 30 calories (diabetic). Report
RACHAEL2020 11/21/2020
Thanks. Report
RAZZOOZLE 7/8/2020
thank you Report
REDROBIN47 6/5/2020
Good information. Thank you. Report
thanks Report
Good ideas thx Sp! Report
Thanks Report
I'm interested in trying oat milk. Report
Down to 1% milk here. Report
have one son who uses almond milk as gets bad gas from regular milk. my other son and I usually use 2% milk. Report
We are able to buy raw goat milk locally, so good! Report
Good information. Thanks. Report
I discovered I was allergic and/or intolerant of pasteurized homogenized cow milk - causing sinusitis. Switched to sit milk. Discovered I was allergic to soy. These days, I use almond milk, hemp milks, coconut milks. No more soy. Rice milk, not so much... Report
I'm going to look for the Calorie Countdown Fat Free Dairy Beverage! Report
I buy Lactose Free non fat milk I get at Walmart. I was a huge milk drinker (a gallon a week) till I went on Atkins. I no longer do Atkins, but I just got out of the habit of drinking it. And since it is just me now, the Lactose free has an incredibly long shelf life. The half gallon I get for my cereal will last almost a month and it is still ahead of the expiration date. Report
I've tried soy milk and in the past. I just bought almond milk (vanilla flavored) this week. I like it a lot; but, dont know that I'll buy it often as it pricier. Report
I've used soy milks. I prefer and use regularly Hood Dairy Beverage. I like it alot. Report
never seen it before. I might try it but I noticed that there isn't as much calcium in it as regular milk. Report
NO SOY please! I have been a licensed nurse for 43 years, and in the 60's...NO ONE was on thyroid, when I have 5 patients at night, very often out of the 5 , 5 will be on thyroid meds....WHY????? Read every label, see how invasive soy is in EVERYTHING we eat....I have hypothyroid, and I know it is soy related. GIVE ME THE REAL stuff, NO SOY! Report
Love Almond Breeze! Vanilla or original both great on cereal and the chocolate reminds me of the homemade cocoa we had as kids. Report
I love almond unsweetened milk! Report
WestSoy's Unsweetened Soy milk has just 1g sugar and is great in smoothies and on cereal (cuts sugar intake dramatically) Report
This blog reads like a chain of advertizements -- it's interesting that vitamin content is only listed for the "calorie countdown" product, and that this product is the only one with a brand name attached. Also, Why is Walmart important to this article? There are lots of places, including independent stores, to purchase all of the above. As a note to those who love almond milk, Safeway's generic brand makes an unsweetened natural one that tastes wonderful, and has only 35 cals per cup, and is fortified with calcium, b12, etc. Report
Love Almond milk....lots of calcium, good 4 u 2 Report
What is interesting is that this blog does not include the calcium and vitamin content for the non-dairy alternatives as a comparative. Good information, nonetheless. Report
pandadot…try making your own almond milk…it's very easy…you can get bulk almonds and use a blender and nutmilk bag. Report
I am exclusive with Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, unsweetened vanilla. 40 cal per serving and about 2g of carbs Report
We've been using soy milk for used because of severe lactose problems. At one time it was close to impossible to buy. Now it is available in almost every grocery store. We like almond milk better for some uses. Report
Good blog Report
I drink a 2% lactose free milk that's actually a bit sweeter than regular milk; too much regular milk and I end up with terrible digestive issues. Report
I have become obsessed lately with unsweetened, original almond milk. It is so delicious, and works really well for baking, too! The one negative is the price - typically about $3.50 per half gallon in the city where I live. Report
My local grocery chain carries a milk, called Mootopia. It is great! Only six grams of carbs, no fat and 12 grams of protein, and lactose free but still labeled milk...tastes like milk too...closer to a 1%. This is great as a snack or a supplement to the meal. I use this milk with no negative repercussions in everything I cook, as well...things taste just as creamy without the fat! it is expensive but since it is just me, it lasts just long enough to go unexpired! Report