Monday, July 30, 2012

What does 2% Milk Actually Mean?

Photo used under Creative Commons 

There are many misconceptions about what the different terms for milk mean. For example, some may believe that 2% milk means that the manufacturers took out all but 2% of the fat. This is not true. The 2% means that 2% of the weight is milk fat. For example, a cup of 2% milk weighs 224 grams. Of that, 5 grams are fat. Five dived by 224 is 2.23%.

  • Myth: 2% of the calories come from fat
One cup of 2% milk has 124 calories. There are 5 grams of fat in a cup of milk and each gram has 9 calories. Therefore there are 45 calories of fat in a cup of milk, which makes up 36.29% of the calories. In other words, 36.29% of the calories in 2% milk come from the fat.  This is because the amount calories per gram of fat (9) is greater the amount of calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates (4).

  • Myth: You have to drink nonfat milk to lose weight
This is far from the truth. Though nonfat milk has 64 fewer calories than whole milk per cup, it doesn't necessarily make you thinner. Milk has a lot of sugar (about 12 grams per cup). The fat found in milk actually slows down the body's blood sugar spike, which can help curb appetite. When we take out the fat from milk we are actually increasing the glycemic index of our milk and making us more likely to overeat and overindulge.

  • Myth: Whole milk has loads of fat
In every cup of whole fat milk (240 grams) there are 8 grams of fat. Eight divided by 240 is 3.33%. Just like we call some milk, "2%" or "1%," we can call whole milk, "3.33%." Eight grams of fat or 3.33% is not too high, especially considering that fat is good for us

Start drinking whole milk. It's delicious. It's more filling than nonfat. And most importantly, it's perfectly healthy. 


  1. 8 grams of fat is 44% of your recommended daily fat intake (on a 1,600 calorie per day diet).

  2. For a 1600 calorie diet, it is recommended one gets 44 to 62 grams of fat. This would mean that a cup of milk is 18.2% to 12.9% of the daily fat maximum. Myfitnesspal recommends that I eat 55 grams of fat when I exercise enough to eat 1600 calories in a day.

    Where did you find your information out?

    To be honest, I'm not all too worried about fat. I think what's more important is that I stay within a certain calorie range (1300-1500 calories usually), exercise, and eat cleanly (a few processed foods as possible, which reduces the amount of simple carbs that I eat too).

    Also, I strive to eat food with as little manipulation that I can handle. So if I want to eat less fat I will just drink less milk (I usually will have at most a half of cup when I do have milk) instead of changing the milk I do drink. Consistent with this mindset, I'm not eating fake sugars even though they have zero calories.

    1. Since every diet known to man is based on a 2000 calorie a day diet. Your numbers are wrong. Even a 1600 calorie a day diet your numbers are backwards. All milk is nutritious it was designed to regiment babies. You are a female after you have delivered a child you produce milk. And no way can that be bad for you it was designed to promote a healthy child perhaps one day your own

  3. Sorry. Seems that google and the FDA disagree. Looks like you are right.

  4. I don't know how you computed 44%. According to the FDA, the upper limit on fat intake is 65 grams based on a 2000 calorie diet. If we decide to compute the amount for 1600 calories assuming the relationship between fat and calorie consumption is linear, then the upper limit would then become 52 grams. 8/52 is 15%, not 44%.

    I get my nutritional information from a variety of sources including the the FDA, as well as peer-reviewed studies, recommendations from health institutions such as kaiser, and dietitians that I read online (often through a google search, yes). Relying on one source, such as the FDA, is limiting. The FDA told people that "fat" was making them fat- the lipid hypothesis - turned out it wasn't that. They told us trans fat was good, turned out it is killing us. They told us salt is giving us heart attacks- there's evidence to disprove this.

    I'm not saying the FDA is evil, just that I take their advice with a grain of salt.

    I've said it many time before, but when people argue with me about things like eating too much fat from nuts or too much sugar from fruit, my response is this: What obese person do you know that got fat off of eating too many fruits, veggies, and nuts?

  5. I don't know how trustworthy this guy is, but,

    A lot of what is written there, I have also been told by some of my doctors.

    However, it seems like the point of this post of yours is that if you are drinking 2% milk, you should drink whole milk, not just "drink milk." Which is fine.

    1. Thank you for the article - I enjoyed reading it. Yes, you understood to the point of my post. I should have also noted that I drink milk seldomly and when I do, it's at most half of a cup.

      I might consider doing his 2-week dairy-free experiment. I may wait until my yogurt is all finished up though. :)

  6. Milk is only good for baby cows