When you were a kid if someone said “would you like a glass of milk?” you knew right away what they were talking about. Today things are a little different. The term “milk” could be applied to more than just cow’s milk.
Milk is what most of us were raised on as kids to provide us with nourishment. As adults, we laugh at Got Milk ads and have several choices in the type we consume. It can be mixed in with your post work out protein powder, enjoyed with a bowl of your favorite breakfast cereal, or just by itself. Examining our options will allow us to pick the milk that is right for our needs as grapplers.
Dairy Milk is just simply milk that comes from a cow. This milk is high in protein, fat, calcium, and vitamin D. It also comes in different varieties. An 8oz glass of dairy milk provides 8 grams of protein and between 11 and 12 grams of carbs. The variable of milk fat changes the calories and saturated fat.
Recent studies have shown that many adults are significantly lacking in vitamin D.
If you’re lactose intolerant your body doesn’t produce the enzyme needed to digest milk. This is different than a milk allergy.
Whole Milk: None of the fat is removed, so it is essentially 3.5% milk fat and the highest in Vitamin D.
2%, 1%, and Fat Free: The three other choices have less milk fat. These options will provide you with similar nutritional value, but fewer calories thanks to the reduced amount of fat.
Lactose-free: Lactose is a natural sugar that is found in dairy milk. Lactose-free milk is processed to break down and remove this sugar for the lactose intolerant.
There has been some discussion about pasteurizing milk in recent years. Some argue that the pasteurization process actually has negative repercussions to our health. This thinking has caused a rise in the availability of “raw” milk products.
Coming from soybeans, this type of milk is a popular choice for people who are lactose intolerant because it doesn’t contain the lactose found in dairy milk. Since it comes from soybeans, it contains no cholesterol and has naturally lower levels of fat than dairy milk. You might think it doesn’t contain the same vitamin content as dairy milk, but that is wrong. Soymilk actually contains a good amount of protein, calcium, and potassium. With all these benefits, you may wonder why it’s not as popular as dairy milk. Well, for most, it doesn’t taste as good as whole milk. I personally don’t enjoy the taste. There are also studies showing that overconsumption of soy can lead to fertility issues and low sperm counts in men. So, drink in moderation.
Made from ground up almonds, almond milk is typically lower in calories, assuming no sweeteners were added. Like soymilk, it is also lactose-free, contains no cholesterol or saturated fat. Though it contains good amounts of vitamins A and D, almond milk doesn’t contain the protein or calcium that dairy or soymilk has. Almond milk has a unique taste to it, and has a smoother consistency than other nut-based milks.
Rice milk is made from milled rice and water. For people who are allergic to nuts and lactose intolerant, this would be the way to go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain the calcium or the vitamins that other milks provide. It is also lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates.
Recent studies have suggested that low-fat chocolate milk is an ideal recovery drink thanks to its 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. After a tough training session, your body is craving glycogen (sugar) in your muscles, and chocolate milk contains sugars, protein, electrolytes, calcium and vitamin D. All are nutrients you need to begin your recovery process. It tastes delicious, too!
Coconut milk shouldn’t be confused with the popular coconut water. Because it comes from coconut, it is lactose-free and high in vitamins. Coconut milk is high in fat, but in MCFAs that are known to benefit the body. Coconut products have been growing in popularity in recent years, so don’t be surprised to see more coconut milk showing up at the grocery stores.
Cashew milk is another nut-based milk that contains no lactose or saturated fats. It provides a high amount of calcium and vitamins, but at the sacrifice of protein. It does, however, provide a creamier consistency and richer taste than other non-dairy milk, which makes this milk ideal for cereal. I wasn’t as familiar with cashew milk, but it’s a great choice if you want to enjoy milk, but want to stay leaner.
Hemp gets a lot of bad press because of its relation to marijuana. Hemp, however, is not the same and is actually a remarkable material that can be used for many things. It contains no (or minuscule amounts of) THC, which is the active ingredient in Cannabis (marijuana) that gets you high. Like soy or nut-based kinds of milk, hemp is lactose-free. It’s a decent source of protein, but it doesn’t have the vitamin content some other milk products have.
As far as “what is the best milk” goes, it depends on your personal tastes and preferences. Personally, I love a cold glass of chocolate whole milk, but some people can’t have that option for a variety of reasons. Soy milk has many beneficial properties that whole milk has with less fat, but can have negative effects when consumed in larger quantities. For jiu-jitsu athletes looking to build muscle mass, 1% milk seems to be the way to go. If you’re working out constantly and training on a daily basis, you will need the protein and probably won’t mind the extra calories.
Hemp milk seems to be a good balance point between the several different milks we’ve examined. If you can get past the stigma and its bland taste, it’s actually not bad. It has a little bit of everything.
Be sure to check the labels on any type of milk you choose. Often, the non-dairy options add flavoring and sugar to make them more palatable. So, if you’re counting carbs and calories, don’t just think because something says, “Almond Milk” on the carton that it’s the best option for you.
We’re all built a little differently and have diverse preferences. There is no one right answer for what is the best milk for you. You might be set in your ways about whole milk, but find that you prefer another type of milk product in your protein mix. I’d recommend experimenting and trying different types of milk with your protein and/or cereal to see what you like best. You might be very surprised.