How to Pick the Right Milk - Fat Free, 1%, 2%, Full Fat or Lactose Free

Most of us grew up drinking at least a glass of milk a day and in those days we barely knew the difference between the varieties available … or maybe there weren’t so many options to choose from. But now that you are all grown up and responsible for shopping for yourself and your family, it is time to understand how to pick the right milk for your needs — is it going to be full fat, fat-free or something in between?

Different Types of Milk

A trip to the grocery store can be daunting for newbies, especially if they’ve been asked to buy a can of milk. The dairy aisle has so many options these days that unless you know what each type of milk contains, it will be difficult to pick the right one.

Whole milk: An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains 3.25 percent of milk fat or 8 grams of fat, which is 12 percent of the daily quota. Coming in at 150 calories per 8 ounces, you might still be able to get away with a glass or two depending on the other sources of fat in your diet.

2% or reduced fat milk: As the name suggests, this variety contains 2 percent milk fat, which translates to about 5 grams of fat and 122 calories per 8 ounces. It still contains all the other nutrients that are available in the other types of milk.

Low-fat milk: An 8-ounce serving of low-fat milk has 2.5 grams of fat and 100 calories, which is considerably lower than both the whole and 2-percent varieties. And, it also provides all other nutrients as the other types of milk.

Fat-free milk: This version of the milk also contains the same amount of nutrients as the others but with lower calories and fat content; 8 ounces of fat-free milk has about 80 calories and a mere 0.2 percent of fat.

Lactose-free milk: Made specially for those who are lactose-intolerant, this type of milk keeps all the nutrients intact and only eliminates lactose, the natural sugar present in milk.

Having been introduced to the different types of milk, let’s take a look at which one may be right for you.

While many earlier studies showed full fat or whole milk in a bad light for its high calories and fat content, recent studies have taken a different tone. Studies have shown that consuming full-fat dairy may actually be beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight and even reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity.

One such study followed 18,438 women, and those among them who consumed full-fat milk and dairy products reduced their risk of being obese or overweight by 8 percent.

Fat is an essential component of our everyday diet and is key for the proper absorption of vitamins, keeping us satiated and supporting nerve and cellular health. They may also play an important role in keeping obesity at bay, in contradiction to older studies that claimed full-fat dairy could cause weight gain.

On the other hand, there is no evidence that shows consuming low-fat or fat-free dairy can help reduce the risk of certain health conditions. It has been noticed that people who opt for low-fat versions might actually be compensating by increasing their intake of sugar and carbohydrates.

So, the next time you shop for milk, remember that regardless of the fat content all the types of milk have the same nutrient content. Weigh your options based on your current diet and dietary needs and pick the best milk type for your body.

The content of this Website is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments. 


Park, A. (2016, April 04). Whole Milk vs Skim Milk: Full Fat Is Better for Your Health. Retrieved from

Brueck, H. (2018, March 21). We took a scientific look at whether non-fat or full-fat foods are worse for you – here’s the verdict. Retrieved from

Get the Facts: Types of Milk Explained. (n.d.). Retrieved from