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Got Milk, but Which One?

Low-fat or skim milk

Low-fat or skim milk? Soy or almond? What’s the best type of milk? Let’s explore the options so you can decide. 

Milk is a pretty amazing. It’s so well-balanced that it is an almost nutritionally complete food. It also has a lot of controversy surrounding it, depending on what you use it for.

Bariatric surgery encourages the use of milk before and after surgery because it is a good source of protein and usually well-tolerated by patients. It can be used as part of a meal or as a snack in your diet. 

At Advanced Surgeons, we promote all these different types of milk depending on your needs and likes when going through the bariatric surgery process and weight loss. They all can play a healthy role in your diet, but they cannot all play the same role because not all have the same nutritional content. 

It’s much like comparing red apples to green apples (whole milk vs. skim milk, and then comparing apples to oranges (cow’s milk vs almond milk), which are clearly not the same. There are multiple other forms of milk available, but they do not come close to comparing nutritionally as a substitute to cow’s milk.

Milk Basics

Low-fat milk plays an important role in bariatric surgery and weight loss. We encourage the use of 1 percent or skim milk on a daily basis. We recommend adding protein powder once a day. Adding protein powder to milk counts as a meal replacement. 

These milks have almost equal amount of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and potassium, all of which are essential for your health. Soy milk has a similar nutritional profile. Most of the nutrients in soy and cow’s milk is in a natural form so it will be used by your body.

Per one manufacturer’s processing method and Tufts University research, almond milk has no B12 and one-third less calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Most of the nutrients in almond milk are added (fortified) so they are not as bio-available or as easily absorbed. 

Almond milk may still play an important role in your weight loss depending on your medical history and what you need the most help with. Your dietitian can help you make this important choice.

Which Milk to Choose

If you cannot tolerate cow’s milk then a good alternative can be plain or unflavored soy milk. You can also use Lactaid. This is still cow’s milk with the lactose removed, so the nutrition is not significantly different, which is good. Lactaid has fewer carbohydrates.

Almond milk has become a popular alternative as people try to improve their health and cut calories, but it may not always be the best choice. It is made by soaking the nuts until they are soft, then blending with water to mimic the consistency of other milk. Once this process is complete, the complementary vitamins and minerals are added to make it comparative to other milk nutrition, a process called fortification.

Before and after weight loss surgery your dietitian may recommend different milk types based on your medical history, other protein foods you eat and your personal desires. Your desire and tolerance regarding milk can also change as you change with weight loss surgery. 

Ultimately it is your choice to use the milk that is best for you and your health throughout your bariatric weight loss process. It is normal to change the type of milk you use as you lose weight. If you need help deciding what is best, reach out to a dietitian to help you with this decision. Request an appointment with our nutrition team today. 

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