- For the 10 years I was overweight I drank skim milk
- Find out why low-fat dairy products keep you feeling hungry
- Whole milk has many other surprising health benefits
Are you drinking skim milk, 1% milk, 2% milk or whole milk?
You might be surprised to learn that whole milk helps you lose weight. I was! For the 10 years I struggled to lose weight I only drank skim milk. When I went back to drinking 2% milk, along with making other healthy choices, I lost weight.
Recently I read about the benefits of drinking higher-fat milk. To my surprise, whole milk (3.25%) is actually the healthiest choice. If you’re new to this blog keep in mind: The healthiest choice helps you lose weight.
Now I’ve been drinking whole milk for almost 4 months and I love it! But I didn’t feel that way at first. I was actually put off by the idea. For some reason I thought whole milk was for people who are trying to gain weight–like kids going through a growth spurt or someone recovering from an illness. I think this false impression stemmed from all the weight-loss advertisements that push low-fat and no-fat food. We’re conditioned to fear fat! But now I know eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating fat from a natural source is part of a balanced meal. And eating balanced meals are part of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, naturally.
Ok… let’s get to the facts.
Why whole milk helps you lose weight
Whole milk helps you lose weight because it’s the healthiest choice. And whole milk is the healthiest choice because it’s the most natural option.
…whole milk is the way it comes from the cow before processing.
-Dairy Council of California
Remember, the more a food is processed, the more unnatural it is and therefore, the more it confuses your body. Whole milk is less processed than skim, 1% and 2% milk. In other words, milk that has 3.25% fat maintains more natural and healthy ingredients and has fewer ingredients added.
Skim milk, for example, is the product that’s left over after the cream is removed. But the cream is packed with essential nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are key. Once consumed, they send a signal to your brain. Then you feel full. Why? Because your body has what it needs to do its important jobs.
Eating whole foods–especially eating balanced meals and snacks made of whole foods, prevents you from overeating. This combination of natural food contains the energy and nutrients your body needs. Then you feel satisfied.
But skim milk is void of these vitamins. That’s why you can eat tons of low-fat dairy products–like low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and low-fat sour cream, and still feel hungry; your body will keep sending hunger signals until it has all the nourishment it requires.
Put simply, the processing skim milk goes through is similar to white flour. White flour has the bran and germ removed; the most nutritious parts of the grain. The bran and germ contain B vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein, minerals and healthy fat. Not only do all these nutrients take time to break down (so energy is released slowly and you stay full longer) but your body also needs all these nutrients to function properly. And when your body functions properly, (drum roll!) it’s easier to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Eating whole foods fills you up naturally. Then you lose weight naturally.
Michael Pollan says it best:
To make dairy products low fat, it’s not enough to remove the fat. You then have to go to great lengths to preserve the body or creamy texture by working in all kinds of food additives. In the case of low-fat or skim milk, that usually means adding powdered milk. But powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, which scientists believe is much worse for your arteries than ordinary cholesterol, so food makers sometimes compensate by adding antioxidants, further complicating what had been a simple one-ingredient whole food. Also, removing the fat makes it that much harder for your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins that are one of the reasons to drink milk in the first place.
-From his 2009 book: In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
Research proves whole milk helps you lose weight
Still not convinced that whole milk helps you lose weight?! Tons of studies found that men and women who eat full-fat dairy are less likely to be obese. In fact, more and more research is showing that cutting out foods that are naturally high in fat, like red meat, butter, dairy and eggs, and choosing low-fat alternatives like skim milk, not only lead to weight gain but have caused the rate of chronic disease to skyrocket.
More evidence that whole milk helps you lose weight
As much as I love scientific research, a personal story is always powerful.
Since we started drinking whole milk 3 years ago, my husband and I have each had a huge reduction in cholesterol. 30 points each to be exact! We also each lost weight. Him 10 lbs. Me 25 lbs. And we drink whole milk, eat full-fat sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt & savor real butter. A LOT.
–DaNelle Wolford, Farmer who blogs about healthy living
Drinking whole milk helps you lose weight … and so much more
What does pasteurized, fortified and homogenized mean?
I’ve seen these words on milk, cheese and yogurt for years. I assumed they meant good things since they’re splashed on the packaging of dairy products. Surprise! These terms are all about processing milk and making it less natural.
Pasteurization: Pasteurizing wasn’t introduced until companies put more cows in smaller spaces to produce more milk. These cramped conditions force cows to lie down and often eat their own manure. Mastitis, which is the inflammation of the mammary gland in the udder, result. Drinking this milk makes you ill. So pasteurization was introduced to kill the bacteria. Pasteurization means sterilizing a product to make it safe for consumption and to prolong its shelf life.
Fortification: Raw milk is full of nutrients that naturally occur in food. So our bodies recognize these nutrients and use them. When milk goes through the process of being pasteurized, much of the nutritional value is lost. So farmers fortify the milk to replace the lost nutrients. Sounds good until you remember that healthy is best and natural is healthy. When food is fortified it is void of real nutrients and full of synthetic nutrients that are almost no use to your body.
Homogenization: This high-pressured mechanical process also extends the milk’s expiry date and prevents the fat in milk from separating; cream naturally rises to the top in unprocessed milk. The fat globules remain suspended evenly in homogenized milk because they’re broken up to such a tiny size. Then the milk has a uniform consistency. Homogenization is so damaging to the milk’s fat globules that they clump together. For people who are lactose intolerant this process makes milk even harder to digest. When you buy milk that’s closer to it’s natural state (non homogenized) you just need to give it a shake to mix the cream back in. Then you can avoid yet another method of interfering with a natural product.
Pasteurization, fortification and homogenization are all examples of food processing and why food found in it’s most natural state work with our bodies the best.
The good, better, best when choosing milk
Good: whole milk (3.25% fat)
Better: certified organic whole milk
Certified organic means that the cows did not receive antibiotics, the grain the cows ate is non-GMO (not genetically modified) and the cows were raised in conditions appropriate to their behavioral requirements.
Best: raw, grass-fed, certified organic whole milk
Cows are herbivores. Their teeth and digestive system are specialized for eating grass. However many factory-farmed cows are taught to survive on anything from corn to candy because they cost less ;(
Just like moms take care in what they eat while breast feeding, we should pay attention to what the animals, whose products we eat, are consuming. I 100% trusted government regulation concerning animal welfare and the health of the food we eat, until I started reading Marion Nestle’s Blog: Food Politics. Along with a greater understanding of other food-related topics, I now realize that many animals eat terrible substitutes for the food they’re designed to eat and many animals live in conditions that are inhumane.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
– Mahatma Gandhi, activist
The kind of whole milk I drink now
Presently, I’m at the “good” stage. The milk I drink is whole milk. Even though it’s pasteurized, fortified and homogenized it’s still a huge improvement from drinking low-fat milk. Writing this post has prompted me to find out where I can purchase organic whole milk. The next step will be raw, grass-fed, certified organic whole milk. I love animals. It makes sense that what’s best for the animal is best for you. I’ll post my findings on Instagram.
What I do know:
Good dairy is more effort to find and is also more expensive; there isn’t as much of a demand and more field space per cow is required. I love the expression:
Each time you buy something you vote.
My aim is to purchase better dairy every other time I buy milk and build from there. It’s better to make a small change today than wait for the perfect day to make the perfect change.
I believe more people would buy better milk if there was more education. Then a higher standard of milk would be more accessible (and cows would live better lives). If you know anyone who may be interested in switching from skim milk to whole milk or anyone who cares about animal welfare, please forward a link to this post. Or post a link on Facebook.
Don’t feel overwhelmed! Just switching from skim milk to 1% milk, with the aim of gradually working up to 3.25% milk, is a healthy plan for lasting change.
When I stopped drinking skim milk 18 years ago, I didn’t understand why higher-fat milk was the healthiest choice or even that whole milk helps you lose weight. I just switched to 2% because someone I trusted told me it was a healthy choice.
When I started drinking 2% milk I initially missed drinking skim; I loved the watery texture. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, after 10 years of drinking skim milk I was used to the watery texture. Now I know it takes time to adapt to change. But understanding why whole milk helps you lose weight makes it easier to make the switch.
Having a strategy for change also helps you turn unhealthy habits into healthy habits. Sign up to receive the best strategy I learned.
Heard this song in the documentary It’s Not Dark Yet about Simon Fitzmaurice who was diagnosed with ALS. It is the most moving documentary I’ve ever seen and a beautiful story about the power of love.
Cathy Davey – Universe Tipping
Is Whole Milk Dairy Better Than Low Fat?
This interesting article explains the history of skim milk.
Milk – good or bad?
This article shares a family’s experience switching to organic milk after understanding that the health of the animal affects your health.
Is Low-Fat Dairy making you FAT?
This blog post is by a farmer who is distressed by the impact money and profit have on the milk industry.
5 Reasons to Start Eating Full-Fat Dairy, According to Science
This post explains many other benefits of full-fat dairy
Sharing what I learned makes those 10 years worth it
WHOLE MILK HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT
Are you drinking whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk or skim milk? Please put your answer in the comments below – even if you just write: whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk or skim milk.