The Truth About Your "Milk"



Does the dairy aisle overwhelm you like it does me? There are so many different types of milk to choose from. From animal milk from cows, goats, or sheep to "milk" like drinks made from soy, rice, almonds, coconuts, cashews, green peas, and more! My question to you, gymnasts, is "why do you drink the milk you do?"


Maybe you enjoy the taste of milk alternatives more than dairy milk. Maybe cow's milk upsets your stomach or just doesn't make you feel super great. Or maybe you're just looking for a drink with less calories, less sugar, or less fat...


As a gymnast RD, I so often hear about how the media, how coaches, how so called "nutritionists" scare you into believing that dairy milk is "unhealthy", "unnatural" or just plain "bad" for you. But do they even know you? How can someone tell you what's good or bad for you without knowing anything about you, your health, your preferences, or your goals?


And at this point in time, scientific evidence still supports including up to 3 daily cow’s milk dairy servings as part of a healthy, balanced diet (for those without lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy). Cow's milk provides essential micro- and macronutrients to the diet (ex. energy, carbs, protein, calcium, Vitamin D) hard to find in similar quantities in other foods, especially for growing kids and teens.


And what even is almond milk, or any other plant-based milk alternative? Can you even milk an almond?


Nut milk, like almond milk, is actually just a drink made from nuts soaked in water and blended together... Sometimes it's fortified with nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamin D, sometimes it isn't...


Maybe almond drink is a better name...


But again, I urge you to ask yourself "why" am I choosing this milk as opposed to another choice? What purpose is it serving in my eating routine? How do I feel drinking this versus another option?


Now, I fully support non-dairy milk choices like almond milk, especially if you prefer the taste or it sits better with your body. BUT realize that when you make your choice, it is important to take a look at the nutrition label to know what you are (or aren't) getting. For my gymnasts, these are the most important questions to ask when choosing a milk. And to help you better answer these questions, I wanted to share more information about some of the most popular milk choices, as well as some pros and cons for each options. (All information is for an 8oz glass.) This is not a complete list, so if I left out your favorite, let me know in the comments here or on Instagram.

Dairy Milk (skim milk)

Nutrition Facts:

  • 83 Calories

  • 12g Total Carbs, 0g Fiber, 12g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

  • 8g Protein

  • < 1g Fat

  • 300mg / 30%DV Calcium

  • 115IU / 29%DV Vitamin D

Dairy Chocolate Milk (skim milk)

Nutrition Facts:

  • 167 Calories

  • 34g Total Carbs, 0g Fiber, 21g Sugar (9g Added Sugar)

  • 8g Protein

  • < 1g Fat

  • 299mg / 30%DV Calcium

  • 115IU / 20%DV Vitamin D


Ultra Filtered Milk (ex. Fairlife, Organic Valley Ultra - skim)

Nutrition Facts:

  • 80 Calories

  • 6g Total Carbs, 0g Fiber, 6g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

  • 13g Protein

  • < 1g Fat

  • 400mg / 40%DV Calcium

  • 100IU / 15%DV Vitamin D

*Increased % Milk (1%, 2%, Whole) will increase the overall calories and amount of fat in the drink, but make no change to the amount of carbs, sugar, or protein. Be sure to choose the option that best fits with your own personal energy needs, goals, and taste preferences.

Almond Milk (Plain)

Nutrition Facts:

  • 30 Calories

  • 1g Total Carbs, <1g Fiber, 0g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

  • 1g Protein

  • 2.5g Fat

  • 450mg / 45%DV Calcium

  • 60IU / 10%DV Vitamin D

Almond Milk (+Protein)

Nutrition Facts:

130 Calories

3g Total Carbs, <1g Fiber, 2g Sugar (2g Added Sugar)

10g Protein

8g Fat

450mg / 45%DV Calcium

60IU / 10%DV Vitamin D


Chocolate Almond Milk (+Protein)

Nutrition Facts:

150 Calories

18g Total Carbs, 2g Fiber, 14g Sugar (14g Added Sugar)

10g Protein

8g Fat

450mg / 45%DV Calcium

60IU / 10%DV Vitamin D

Soy Milk (plain, not-fortified, unsweetened)

Nutrition Facts:

  • 88 Calories

  • 4g Total Carbs, 3g Fiber, 1g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

  • 9g Protein

  • 4.5g Fat

  • 55mg / 5.5%DV Calcium

  • 6IU / 1%DV Vitamin D

Oat Milk

Nutrition Facts:

8 Calories

< 1g Total Carbs, <1g Fiber, <1g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

<1g Protein

<1g Fat

19mg / 2%DV Calcium

240IU / 40%DV Vitamin D

Pea Protein Milk (Ripple - original unsweetened)

Nutrition Facts:

  • 80 Calories

  • < 1g Total Carbs, <1g Fiber, 0g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

  • 8g Protein

  • 4.5g Fat

  • 440mg / 44%DV Calcium

  • 240IU / 40%DV Vitamin D

**Choosing a "flavored" or "sweetened" non-dairy milk option will most likely increase the overall calories and total carbs (sugar) of the drink. Be sure to choose the option that best fits with your own personal energy needs, goals, and taste preferences.

None of these milk options will be the perfect choice for every gymnast. However, I urge you to really think about why you are choosing the milk option you choose. Is fulfilling the nutrition role you need it to, or might there be a better option out there for you.

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