Is Almond Milk Good for Weight Loss? (9 Health Benefits)

Written by Nathan | Updated on 20 November 2021

Whether you are ready for it or not, plant-based milk is replacing dairy milk in many households. 

The demand for alternative beverages like almond milk has risen over the years for various reasons; some people simply want to reduce their animal product consumption while others look at the health benefits associated with almond milk, a non-dairy substitute. 

Like any other modern food staple, people frequently wonder if almond milk is good for weight loss, their health, and how it compares to other dairy and non-dairy substitutes. 

Therefore, this article satisfies all those curiosities and breaks down almond milk’s weight loss and health benefits, among other types of milk. 

What is Almond Milk & How is it Made?

Almond-based milk is a low-calorie, plant-based milk alternative.

It is derived from almond nuts which are known to have many nutritional benefits such as cholesterol-lowering and reducing risk for chronic diseases. [1]

Although it only made its rise in grocery store shelves a few years ago, people have been enjoying almond milk since the 1200s as it was thought to be a nutritious alternative to animal-based milk. [2]

Much of the same sentiment remains today. 

In modern times, almond-based milk advertising centered around it being lactose and dairy-free alternative to regular milk. People who avoid dairy products, like those suffering from milk allergies, lactose intolerance, and vegans, often drink this plant-based alternative.[3]

How it’s Made: a Mix of Almonds and Water

The oldest recipes for almond milk consisted of only almonds and water. Today, the process to make almond milk commercially is similar but with a few additions. 

First, the almonds are soaked in water and then crushed or ground. The plant-based milk is obtained by filtering out the solid almond pulps and solid almond residue. Afterward, commercial manufacturers process the almond milk by homogenizing it with pressure on top of pasteurizing it to increase its stability and shelf-life. Lastly, almond milk is enriched and fortified with vitamins and minerals typically found in animal-based milk.[4]

This almond-derived beverage is generally separated into two categories: sweetened and unsweetened, but they have a variety of flavors like vanilla too. 

Weight Loss & Health Benefits of Almond Milk

Much like its pure almond counterpart, this plant-based milk is associated with a lot of health benefits, one of which is that almond milk is good for weight loss. 

1. Low in Calories (Helpful to Lose Weight)

Almond milk has less calories than regular milk, making it a guilt-free beverage when you’re trying to lose weight. 

The amount of calories you consume in a day is not the only factor to consider when you want to slim down. Things like the rate of your metabolism, how much energy you expend, your eating habits, and your overall health all play huge roles as well.

Generally speaking, however, remaining in a calorie deficit, or burning more calories than you consume in a day, is essential in most weight loss plans. [5] This makes almond milk, which is considered a low-calorie beverage, a great alternative to cow’s milk if you’re looking to cut down. 

Due to the way almond milk is made and processed, the end product tends to be highly diluted in water, which is another reason almond milk has less calories than cow’s milk. Usually, there are 30 to 50 calories per cup (8oz.) in the unsweetened variety of almond-based milk – around one-third the calories found in whole cow’s milk, which usually has around 150 calories per cup. [6]

As such, if you are looking to drink almond milk as an alternative to cow’s milk on your weight loss journey, be sure to opt for the unsweetened or flavored versions. While still lower in calories than cow’s milk, most sweetened varieties of almond milk can contain up to 130 calories per serving and the unsweetened flavored ones don’t have much more. 

If you want to learn more about calorie deficits and other factors that matter in weight loss, read our article on how to lose weight in a week..

2. Heart Healthy (No Saturated Fat)

Almond milk contains no saturated fat, which means you might be doing your heart a favor by drinking it instead of cow’s milk.

Research has shown that a high amount of saturated fat intake is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that the risk of heart disease was 18% greater in the group that consumed the highest amounts of saturated fatty acids compared group that had the least. 

In comparison, one serving of whole cow’s milk has around 4.63 grams of saturated fatty acids, low-fat milk has 1.5 grams of saturated, and even skim milk has 0.1 grams of saturated fat.

Thus, because almond milk has zero saturated fat content, it is the healthier milk alternative to keep the heart healthy. 

Additionally, almond milk generally has less total fat. One serving has 2.5 grams of total fat, which is around the same amount as most less-fat milk brands. While fat isn’t bad per se, having less saturated fats and calories makes almond milk a great choice for those looking to lose belly fat. 

3. Low in Carbohydrates & Sugar

Most of the carbs in cow’s milk are sugar, so almond milk is the winner for those looking to cut out carbs or sugar. An 8oz cup of almond milk has around 1-3.5 grams of carbohydrates. 

Note that carbohydrates are vital to our health as they are the primary source of energy for our bodies, and the amount of carbohydrates you need to consume every day depends on your age, height, and weight. 

However, in maintaining a healthy diet, it is important to not go crazy with empty carbohydrates like sugar. Consuming more than your daily nutritional requirement is detrimental to weight loss because excess carbs can be converted and stored into fat by your body. [8]

Almond milk also has a low glycemic index that’s less than 50. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a way to see the way food affects blood sugar. [9] Foods with low GI, like almond milk, will not cause your blood sugar to rise or spike, making this plant-based milk alternative great for people managing diabetes and those with high blood pressure. [10] 

Additionally, almond milk, a low glycemic food, is great for weight loss as studies show that low glycemic foods help you feel full and satiated for longer. [10] This means that you may consume fewer calories within the day by drinking low GI almond milk, and this, in the long term, can help you feel satisfied for longer periods.

4. Enriched with Calcium

Although almond nuts are not calcium-rich foods, commercial brands of almond-based milk are great sources of calcium. 

Because almond nut milk is often used as a non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk, producers enrich it with calcium as well as other minerals. This is done so that almond-based milk may better compensate for the nutritional deficiencies that may happen when dairy milk is completely removed from a person’s diet. [11]

Due to this calcium fortification, one 8 ounce serving of unsweetened almond milk has 480 mg of calcium, which is 30 – 50% of the Daily Value (DV). Meanwhile, the same serving of cow’s milk only has 306 mg of calcium, 25 – 32% DV. 

Consuming your daily requirement of calcium is essential to your health as calcium aids in numerous critical body functions. It is one of the components of bones and it also maintains our skeletons, regulates our hormones, and transmits nerve impulses throughout our bodies. [12,13] 

Furthermore, research has shown that calcium supplementation helps prevent many medical conditions like osteoporosis and certain cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases. [14]

Some studies even suggest that calcium supplementation may help in weight loss. 

In 2019, a study was conducted on postmenopausal women to see the effects of calcium on weight loss. They found that an increased calcium and vitamin D intake during a hypocaloric diet resulted in better weight and fat loss compared to a calorie deficit diet alone. The presence of the minerals also resulted in the preservation of more bone and lean tissue. [15]

Thus, the high calcium content in almond milk may not only help you lose weight but also aid in preserving your lean muscle when you’re cutting.

Along with calcium, check out a few other proven supplements for fat burning, muscle building, and healthy living.

5. Enriched with Vitamin D

Along with being enriched with calcium, almond milk and other plant-based alternatives are also fortified with Vitamin D. 

We naturally get Vitamin D from the sun and from the food we eat, although few food items are rich in Vitamin D. Vitamin D2, one major form of Vitamin D, can be found in yeast and some mushrooms and plants. Vitamin D3, the other major form, is found naturally in cod liver oil and oily fish. [16]

Vitamin D is well known for its role in bone health; it is essential for bone growth and density, and a lack of it may result in bone loss or injury. Additionally, vitamin D also aids in protein synthesis, gene expression, and immune function, all of which are vital functions. [17]

One last source of vitamin D are supplements, which experts believe are necessary to obtain optimal vitamin D levels. They argue that sunlight exposure and dietary intake are most likely not enough to achieve the recommended intake of 400-600 IU/day. [18] 

It is important to meet the recommended intake as Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of metabolic and immune disorders, cancer, and osteoporosis, among others. [19] In this regard, enriched almond milk may help bridge the gap as a cup of unsweetened almond milk has around 107 IU of Vitamin D

Can the high Vitamin D content in almond milk help for weight loss? 

New research suggests that Vitamin D significantly affects our muscle growth, strength, and performance. [20] Lean muscles are known to burn more calories than fat; increasing your intake of Vitamin D while strength training can help promote lean muscle growth so that you can burn more calories overall. 

If you want to stack on more muscle, check out these methods or principles that are proven to work.

6. Rich in Vitamin E

Almond nuts are one of the top foods high in vitamin E, making them great for your health. A single ounce of almonds has 7.26 mg of vitamin E, which is already 50% of the DV. 

Almond milk is similar to its nut counterpart. 

Just drinking a glass of almond milk fulfills your daily vitamin E recommended amount because a single 8-ounce cup contains around 16 mg of vitamin E – 100% DV.

This doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to a glass a day, though; although a vitamin E overdose is possible and can be toxic, it is also very rare. The upper limit for this vitamin is 1000 mg, which means you have to drink more than a couple of gallons of almond milk. [21]

The high content of Vitamin E is a major health benefit of almond milk due to its importance in and benefits to our health. Vitamin E is a powerful plant-based antioxidant that enhances human immune responses and reduces the risk of age-related cataracts. [22] [23]

Additionally, studies are starting to show that vitamin E seems to be a potent agent for the prevention of cancer, and consumption of it is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease. [24] [25]

7. Low in Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a component of our bones, teeth, DNA, and RNA. This mineral also works with calcium to build the body’s bones. 

While phosphorus is an undoubtedly essential mineral, recent research shows that a high phosphorus intake correlates with renal calcification and other kidney issues. This becomes a problem as phosphorus is plentiful in the food items of developed countries with its use as a preserving additive in processed foods. [26]

Fortunately, one health benefit of almond milk is that it is relatively low in phosphorus content. A single serving of unsweetened almond milk only has 23 mg of phosphorus. In comparison, one cup of cow’s milk has 251 mg of phosphorus or an 18% DV. 

As such, people with chronic kidney disease who refrain from drinking cow’s milk due to the high phosphorus content may find that its relatively low amount in almond milk is beneficial.

However, be sure to still consult a healthcare provider if there are any concerns.

8. Lactose-free

Plant-based milk substitutes like almond milk are naturally lactose-free. 

Lactose is a major carbohydrate found in dairy milk which is digested by the enzyme called lactase. Lactose intolerance occurs in people who do not have the enzyme lactase so their bodies are not able to digest the lactose in the milk. [27] 

When lactose intolerant people consume lactose, the common symptoms are abdominal pain and bloating. This is due to the presence of unabsorbed lactose in the gut, which causes a high bacterial production of fatty acids and gas. This later manifests as meteorism and diarrhea. [27]

Lactose intolerance has a worldwide prevalence of 75%, and research suggests that people lose their ability to digest lactose as they grow older. 

This makes it clear why the demand for lactose-free products is continuously on the rise. As plant-based milk substitutes are lactose-free, they are the best milk substitutes for those experiencing lactose intolerance. 

9. Allergy-Free, Dairy-Free, and Zero Animal By-Product

It is easy to confuse lactose intolerance with “cow’s milk protein allergy” (CMPA), but the two are very different.

In people with CMPA, the immune system responds to the proteins in cow’s milk, resulting in allergic symptoms. In contrast, lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the lactose sugar in cow’s milk. 

CMPA is rare in adults and far more common in children. Due to this, there is a lack of studies on CMPA in adults, which is unfortunate as adult CMPA can be severe. [28] 

Considering that plant-based substitutes (excluding soy) are devoid of the proteins in milk that cause the allergic reaction, almond milk is a perfect substitute for adults with CMPA. 

It should be noted; however, that almond milk is an inappropriate cow milk substitute for children with CMA as it is low in protein, fat, calories and iron. Instead, opt to give a child with CMPA a fortified plant-based alternative with at least 6 grams of protein in one cup. [29]

Lastly, almond milk is also a suitable alternative for people who avoid consuming dairy products, whether for environmental or lifestyle reasons.

Should You Drink it?

Now that you know and are aware of the benefits of drinking almond milk, you can make an informed decision to try it or not. 

If your main goal is to lose weight, then trying this nut-based beverage is encouraged for the reasons above. And even if you’re not aiming to lose a couple of pounds, the health benefits of almond milk make it a sound choice to experiment with.

With that being said, the cons of almond milk must also be mentioned, and we’ve listed them below for your consideration:

  • Low in Protein: around 1.05 g/cup
  • Low in the minerals Iron and Zinc: <1 g/cup
  • May contain multiple food additives due to fortification and homogenization 
  • Unsafe for those with tree nut allergies
  • Not an appropriate milk substitute for infants

Regular vs. Milk Alternatives (Nutritional Value and on Weight Loss)

This section briefly compares cow’s milk to other plant-based milk alternatives (oat, soy, coconut). 

The table below provides a brief overview of the common characteristics of most plant-based milk compared with cow’s milk.

Plant-Based Milk

Cow’s Milk
Rich Source of Vitamins B and E
Richer in Amino Acids
Soy Milk – comparable protein content Rich Source of Protein and Fat
Fewer Calories

More Complete Mineral Content (Zinc, Iron, Magnesium)

See below to compare the nutritional values of milk and some of its plant-based substitutes.

Regular Milk

Cow Milk Nutritional Value Per 240 ml Amounts
Calories 168 kcal
Protein 8g
Fat 10g
Carbohydrates 11g
Dietary Fibers 0g
Calcium 306 mg

Regular cow’s milk is less suitable for weight loss compared to the others. Out of all the choices, it has the most calorie, fat, and carbohydrate content. However, in terms of the amount of protein and minerals in a serving, cow’s milk is still the top source.

Oat

Oat Milk Nutritional Value Per 240 ml Amounts
Calories 80 kcal
Protein 2.5g
Fat 4g
Carbohydrates 16g
Dietary Fibers 2g
Calcium 15% DV

Oats are well known for being healthy food staples for weight loss. This is due to its active component, β-glucan, which is a soluble fiber that slows down the movement of food in the intestines, increasing satiety levels for a longer amount of time.

Oat milk is also a good source of antioxidants, and is proven to lower cholesterol when consumed.

With fewer calories and lesser fat content than cow’s milk, and dietary fibers like β-glucan, oat milk is also a good choice for weight loss.

Soy

Soy Milk Nutritional Value Per 240 ml

Amounts
Calories 80 – 120 kcal
Protein 7g
Fat 4g
Carbohydrates 4g
Dietary Fibers 1g
Calcium

30% DV

Soy milk is rich in phytosterols, compounds found in plant membranes which are recognized for their cholesterol lowering properties. It has the highest protein content among all the other substitute milk options in this article.  It is also relatively low in fat and carb content. All of this makes it one of the better choices for weight loss purposes.

Coconut

Coconut Milk Nutritional Value Per 240 ml

Amounts
Calories 70-80 kcal
Protein <1g
Fat 5g
Carbohydrates 7g
Dietary Fibers 0g
Calcium

45% DV

Coconut milk is a nutrient dense product that is rich in minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It also contains vitamins C and E, and is also known to aid in digestion.

Coconut milk is highly valued for the lauric acid found in its fats. This acid raises HDL cholesterol levels, effectively reducing the LDL levels in the bloodstream. 

In terms of cow milk substitutes for weight-loss, however, coconut milk fairs the worst in this list. While it is still lower in calories than cow milk, its fat and carbohydrate content is high. Lastly, most of its calories are from saturated fat. [29]

Can You Replace Regular Milk with Almond Milk Forever?

Before you try to permanently replace regular milk with almond milk, review vitals with a healthcare provider first. 

Still, eliminating regular milk from your diet comes with hard work. Cow’s milk offers a variety of nutrients that almond milk does not. 

First, cow’s milk is a very important source of protein with around 8 g/cup. Almond milk does not compare in this regard. Second, regular milk offers various essential minerals such as zinc, iron, and magnesium. In comparison, almond milk has little to no amounts of these minerals. [29]

Replacing regular milk with the almond alternative is not impossible. However, you must still consume the daily recommended amounts of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that you miss by not consuming regular milk. 

What Are Good Almond Milk Brands & Where to Buy?

With how popular almond milk has become, several brands have popped up claiming to be the best. Most of these brands can be bought at your local grocery store or they’re even available on Amazon.   

1. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk

In an 8 ounce serving, Almond Breeze has only 60 calories, 2.5 g of fat, and a gram of carbs and protein. Additionally, it is enriched with 45% DV of calcium and 25% DV of Vitamin D. 

2. Orgain Unsweetened Almond Milk

In an 8 ounce serving, Orgain has 100 calories, 3 g of fat, and 4g of carbs (2g fiber), and 10g of protein. Although a little higher calories, this almond milk has one of the highest protein contents on the market at the moment.

3. Silk Original Almond Milk

In an 8 ounce serving, Orgain has 60 calories, 2.5 g of fat, and 8g of carbs (7g sugar), and 1g of protein. This is sweetened almond milk which is why the carb content is higher. However, an unsweetened variety is available that only has one gram of carbs.

Or, if you’re feeling crafty, you can…

Make Almond Milk on Your Own

Almond milk can easily be made in your own home with this simple recipe. You will need:

  • a cup of raw almonds 
  • 5 cups of water
  • a bowl
  • a blender
  • a nut-milk bag or cheesecloth.  

Step 1: Place the almonds in a bowl, fill it with cool water, and soak overnight. Drain, then rinse the next day.

Step 2: Place the rinsed almonds in a blender or grinder, then add the 5 cups of water. You can also add other ingredients like cinnamon, vanilla, or salt to taste, but this is optional. Blend or grind the almonds until it’s smooth and creamy (around 3 minutes).

Step 3: Use a nut-milk bag or a cheesecloth and strain the almond mixture into a bowl. Place in the fridge, and do not consume after 4 days. 

Summary

Plant-based milk and other non-dairy alternatives were created to become suitable alternatives for those who don’t drink regular, dairy milk.

However, with the astounding 9 health benefits mentioned above, it is no surprise that plant-based milk has gained extreme popularity in recent years.

While almond milk is good for weight loss, bone and muscle promotion, heart health, and many other things, if you intend to fully replace whole milk to almond, ensure that you are doing so in a healthy and controlled manner, and keep track of the nutrients that you may lack without dairy milk. 

Resources

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About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.