Written through Becky Bell, MS, RD and also Celia Shatzman — medically reviewed by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — update on June 14, 2021

Milk is just one of the many nutritious beverages on the planet, which describes why it’s a clip in institution lunches and also is a popular beverage for world of every ages.

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For decades, nutrition guidelines have actually recommended just low fat dairy products for anyone over 2 year old. However, in current years, researchers have referred to as that recommendation into question (1).

Recent studies suggest that skim could not always be the healthiest option as soon as it comes to milk.


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There room several species of milk easily accessible in the dairy aisle of many grocery stores. They mainly differ in their fat content. Entirety milk is occasionally referred to as “regular milk” since the amount of fat in it has not been altered. Skim and 1% milk are created by removed fat from entirety milk.

Fat content is measured together a portion of the full liquid, through weight. Here are the fat components of famous milk varieties:

whole milk: 3.25% milk fatlow fat milk: 1% milk fatskim: much less than 0.5% milk fat

This table summarizes the nutrients in 1 cup (237 mL) of several milk varieties:


Skim MilkLow Fat MilkWhole Milk
Calories83102146
Carbs12.5 grams12.7 grams12.8 grams
Protein8.3 grams8.2 grams7.9 grams
Fat0.2 grams2.4 grams7.9 grams
Saturated Fat0.1 grams1.5 grams4.6 grams
Omega-3s2.5 mg9.8 mg183 mg
Calcium306 mg290 mg276 mg
Vitamin D100 IU127 IU97.6 IU

Since fat has much more calories by load than any type of other nutrient, milk v a higher fat content has more calories (2, 3, 4).

Vitamin D is another nutrient that deserve to differ depending upon the fat content. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, therefore in milk it’s naturally present only in the fat. However, many milk manufacturers add vitamin D come milk, therefore every kind has a similar vitamin D content.

One of the most far-reaching nutritional differences between the milk varieties is your omega-3 content. Omega-3 fat acids have actually been linked to many health benefits, including enhanced heart and mind health and also a reduced risk of cancer. The more fat a cup of milk has in it, the higher its omega-3 content (5, 6, 7).

Additionally, researches have displayed that organic entirety milk consists of an even higher amount the omega-3s than consistent whole milk (7).

Summary

The major difference between the types of milk accessible is their fat content. Entirety milk contains an ext fat and calories than skim milk.


Why is entirety milk sometimes considered unhealthy?

For years, nutrition guidelines have been instructing human being to avoid entirety milk, mainly due to its saturation fat content.

Mainstream nutrition recommendations advise limiting saturated fat because of its claimed connection to heart disease. Some researches have shown that saturation fat raises cholesterol levels, and also researchers know that high cholesterol level are linked with an increased risk of love disease.

Based top top this information, professionals made the presumption that saturated fat must rise the threat of love disease. However, there to be no experimental proof to prove the this was true (8, 9).

In the 1970s, public policy was embraced based top top this presume connection between saturated fat and also heart disease. Together a result, main guidelines instructed civilization to minimize their saturation fat intake.

A cup (237 mL) of whole milk has 4.6 grams of saturated fat, i beg your pardon is around 20% that the daily amount recommended by the 2015-2020 dietary Guidelines because that Americans. Because that this reason, the guidelines recommend consuming just low fat or skim milk (1, 2).

In recent years, this recommendation has actually been called into question. There is currently plenty of speculative data to suggest that eating saturated fat does not reason heart condition (9).

Summary

In the past, totality milk was taken into consideration unhealthy due to the fact that of its saturated fat content, but recent research does not assistance this recommendation.


There is very small scientific evidence that says you have to be avoiding saturated fat in your diet. In fact, a review of 21 studies concluded that there is no far-ranging evidence the saturated fat rises the threat of heart disease.

Another study found that saturation fat intake was not linked with love disease, stroke, heart attack, or heart-disease related fatality (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

The old hypothesis is the saturated fat increases cholesterol levels and high cholesterol levels increase the threat of heart disease. However, the relationship in between saturated fat and also cholesterol is more complex than that.

Saturated fat does boost your blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is recognized as “bad” cholesterol. But what is frequently ignored is the saturated fat likewise raises level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. HDL has actually a protective effect versus heart an illness (15, 16).

Additionally, not all LDL is dangerous. There room different varieties of LDL, and it’s the very small, thick particles that LDL that have actually the many damaging effects on the heart and also arteries (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).

Interestingly, saturation fat actually transforms LDL native the small, thick particles to the large, much less harmful particles (23, 24).

However, the is crucial to keep in mind that some studies have linked full fat dairy intake through an raised risk the diabetes and prediabetes, while others have displayed a neutral effect. One study found that skim and also fermented dairy assets correlated come prediabetes, yet full fat and nonfermented dairy products had a positive outcome v prediabetes (25, 26).

Summary

There is no solid proof that saturation fat increases the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat does rise LDL, however it’s not the most damaging kind of LDL. It also raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels.


Many world avoid drinking entirety milk because they i think the extra fat and also calories will cause them to get weight. Interestingly, the opposite is probably true. Numerous studies have displayed that consuming high fat dairy product products, such all at once milk, may actually assist prevent weight gain.

In one review, 11 the end of 16 studies discovered an association in between consuming high fat dairy and a reduced risk of arising obesity (27).

Another study uncovered that dairy fat input is not linked to a greater risk of load gain, cardiovascular disease, or kind 2 diabetes (28).

One very big study detailed that women that consumed the highest quantities of high fat dairy commodities were the the very least likely to become overweight gradually (29).

Another examine of 1,782 men discovered that those who had a high entry of high fat dairy commodities had a 48% reduced risk for developing ab obesity, compared with guys who had actually a medium intake. In the very same study, the males who had actually a short intake of high fat dairy products had a 53% greater risk for ab obesity (30).

This is significant because abdominal obesity, in which fat accumulates about the waistline, may be the worst kind of load gain. Studies have discovered that having actually fat about your middle increases your hazard for dying from heart an illness and cancer (31, 32).

The relationship in between milk and also weight management has been a research height for number of years, and also findings have been inconsistent. However, many of these researches either encompass all species of dairy assets or emphasis on low fat dairy (33, 34, 35).

In researches that look at at just high fat dairy products products, like totality milk, there is a pretty continual connection in between high fat dairy and lower body weight.

A research of nearly 20,000 women uncovered that those who consumed an ext than 1 offer of whole milk every day were 15% less likely to gain weight end a duration of 9 years than women that drank no milk or low fat milk (36).

Summary

People who drink totality milk often tend to sweet less. Over there is no proof that drinking totality milk rather of skim will certainly make you gain weight.


Not just is there no scientific proof proving that the saturated fat in entirety milk reasons heart disease, yet several studies have displayed that drinking totality milk is associated with wellness benefits.

Multiple researches have shown that drinking totality milk is linked with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name provided to a team of danger factors, consisting of insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels. As soon as these risk components are existing together, your danger for diabetes and heart disease is high (37, 38).

A study of more than 1,800 people found the adults with the greatest intake that high fat dairy commodities had a 59% lower risk for metabolic syndrome than adults v the shortest intake (39).

A 2016 examine of almost 10,000 adults found that high fat dairy products are connected with lessened markers that metabolic syndrome. The study discovered no helpful effects connected with short fat dairy. The fatty acids in entirety milk are most likely responsible for its wellness benefits (40).

In one big study, human being with the highest possible amount that dairy-derived fatty acids in your bloodstreams had a 44% reduced rate that diabetes than those v the lowest amount (41).

Drinking entirety milk may have other significant benefits, including increased fertility and a reduced risk the colon cancer. However, the proof is not strong (42, 43).

Summary

Drinking entirety milk may actually have actually some health and wellness benefits, consisting of lowering the hazard of metabolic syndrome.


There are some instances where skim milk may be the best selection for her diet. If you’re adhering to a an extremely low calorie diet, because that example, the extra 63 calorie you will gain from drinking a cup (237 mL) of whole milk instead of skim could be much more than you deserve to afford.

Skim milk likewise offers the benefit of gift a relatively low calorie source of protein. Both entirety milk and also skim milk contain about 8 grams that protein per cup.

However, in totality milk, protein makes up only 22% the the calories, vice versa, it makes up 39% the the calories in skim milk.

Skim milk is “nutrient-dense,” meaning it provides a huge dose the vitamins and minerals v very couple of calories. In fact, skim milk is among the richest food resources of calcium, providing about 300 mg per cup. This is even greater than the calcium content of entirety milk, which is 276 mg every cup.

If you require to rise your calcium intake however can’t purchased a lot of additional calories in your diet, skim milk is the way to go.

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Summary

Skim milk offers all the protein and also calcium that whole milk does however with substantially fewer calories.