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Monday Mythbusting: Is low-fat milk higher in sugar?

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

One of the most common questions I get asked (other than "Should I go Paleo/Keto?") is whether people should be drinking or eating low fat dairy products. Below, I have compared Brownes Full Cream, Hi-Lo and Skim milks so we can see what the difference is between the three types of milk.

But first, what is the difference? Full cream milk is the standard, least altered version of what we get from cows, high low is reduced fat (but some fat is still present) and low fat is when almost all the fat has been removed. You can see that difference in the table below, if you look at the total fat of each milk type, it decreases in each product. The same goes for saturated fat, this is one of the unhealthy types of fat that can damage our cardiovascular system. If you look at the kilojoules, or energy, you'll notice this also decreases with decreasing fat content. This is not a coincidence - fat is really high in energy, so it has a big impact on how many kilojoules are in the milk we drink.

You'll notice that in these products, the other nutrients listed here actually remain pretty constant - including sugar, so perhaps low fat products are sometimes getting a bad wrap without any real foundation.

However, sometimes comparing dairy products really does show higher sugar content in low fat products and here is why:

Milk is made up of a few components: water, milk sugars (lactose), protein, fat, vitamins and minerals predominantly. If you take out one of these components, like fat, you need to top it up with the rest of the milk, including sugar.

Here's a picture if you are more of a visual person. The first picture is full fat milk (obviously, the fat is not sitting on top of the milk like that, but for the sake of visualization lets go with it). If we took off the section with the fat, and topped it up with fat-free milk, we would end up with more water, sugar, protein, vitamins and minerals in our glass, because that's what is left without fat.

The important message is this: if low fat milk appears to have more sugar in it, its not because it is added sugars to compensate for the fat, which seems to be the myth. If it does seem to have more sugar, its natural sugar that is already present in the milk. Full fat milk is not only much higher in kilojoules, which can add to your weight which is a concern for many people, but also has negative effects on our heart and cardiovascular system, so try a skim or reduced fat milk today!


If you would like to know more, please contact us at Habits for Health -

Have a delicious day!


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