Is Milk good for weight loss? A complete guide.

Weight Loss
Coach Shivani
October 06,2022

Weight watchers have many queries related to foods and beverages they should have and avoid as part of their weight loss diet. A common one is about milk.

Milk is healthy, there is no doubt about it. Most of us were brought up drinking milk from childhood either by itself or with ‘health’ powders mixed into it. Even as adults, milk is a part of daily life for most people in their chai and coffee.

But milk also contains fat, a macronutrient associated with weight gain.

This brings to mind many questions about milk and weight loss, such as:

  • Should you avoid it when trying to lose weight?
  • How much milk is ok?
  • Should you have skimmed or low-fat milk or is full-fat ok?
  • Is cow’s milk good for weight loss?
  • Does milk increase weight?
  • What is the best time to drink milk for weight loss?
  • Is it ok to have milk at night just before bed?

This article focuses on cow’s milk and tells you everything you need to know about cow’s milk and how to use it in a weight loss diet plan.

Nutrition facts of milk

Let us first look at what milk contains in terms of nutrients.

1 glass milk calories

cup / glass (200 grams) of cow’s milk with 3% fat provides:

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 6.2 grams
  • Carbs: 9 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Sugar: 9 grams
  • Calcium: 250 mg

Milk also provides many essential nutrients. These include:

  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D (in products fortified with vitamin D)
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B12
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Choline
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium

As you can see, milk is rich in so many nutrients. You may have heard that it is a good source of calcium, but as you can see from the above, it provides so much more in terms of nutrition. So looking at 1 glass milk calories in this context shows how much nutrition is packed in a small amount of calories.

Milk contains almost every single nutrient that your body needs.

This is also recognised in the Dietary Guidelines for Indians published by the National Institute of Nutrition. It makes the following important points about cow’s milk and its inclusion in the diet:

  • Milk is the best source of biologically available calcium which helps in the building up of strong bones.
  • Milk proteins are valuable supplements to most vegetarian diets.
  • Milk is a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A and D. Vitamins A and D are lost when milk fat is removed during processing. Fortification of milk with Vitamin A and Vitamin D is required in India because of the widespread deficiencies present in the population.
  • Skimmed milk should be preferred instead of whole milk.
  • For strict vegetarians, milk is the only source of vitamin B12.

Does milk cause weight gain?

We have seen that the calories in one glass of milk is not very high. But the fact that milk has fat has been on the minds of people for a long time. Food manufacturers recognize this and as a result we have low-fat versions or skimmed versions of milk where most or all of the fat content is removed.

No fat, low-fat and full-fat milk packets

But this does not mean that milk causes weight gain. In fact, the effect of full-fat dairy (milk, yogurt etc) on weight has been studied.

The studies have not been able to find a link between eating full-fat dairy and weight gain.

In addition, recent research is indicating that the fat in milk does not increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.

All of this is reassuring and indicates that you need not be as concerned about milk causing weight gain, if included in reasonable quantities in the diet.

Does milk help with weight loss?

Believe it or not, there has been a lot of research on milk and its benefits on weight loss.

This is what we know so far about the effect of milk on weight loss.

  • Milk contains a variety of components that may contribute to weight loss and prevent weight gain.
  • The high protein content of milk helps you feel full for a longer period of time, which may prevent overeating.
  • Milk is a rich source of calcium and studies have shown that high levels of calcium in the diet promotes fat breakdown and inhibits fat absorption in the body. It notes that calcium from dairy products seems to have more of an impact than calcium from dietary supplements.
  • Studies in middle-aged and elderly women showed that eating more high-fat dairy products was associated with less weight gain and a lower risk of obesity.

All the evidence clearly points at milk being helpful for weight loss. This is understandable as milk, especially full-fat milk, is filling due to its protein and fat content and can help you feel full for longer. This helps your weight loss as you snack less and avoid overeating.

Benefits of milk for weight loss

Milk helps with weight loss in a number of ways, the most relevant being through its protein and fat content.

Protein in milk

In order to lose weight without losing muscle (healthy weight loss), you need to maintain a higher level of protein. Having adequate protein in the diet also helps you burn more energy (calories). Milk helps with this given its high protein content.

Check to see how much protein is in your milk. More protein leads to greater satiety (fullness), which can keep you fuller for a longer period of time. This helps you eat less overall.

Fat in milk

Whole milk from the cow has about 4% fat. The fat in milk is a combination of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat and its fat profile is considered healthy. Like with protein, the fat content in milk helps with the feeling of fullness and helps prevent overeating.

Wholesome nutrition

The long list of nutrients in milk is another reason to include it in your weight loss diet in reasonable quantities. It provides most of the nutrients your body needs and we have seen that the calories in one glass of milk is not very high. Overall, it’s a great option to include in a balanced weight loss diet.

If you would like a sample 7-day meal plan that includes milk and milk products like curd, tea & coffee, see this Indian diet plan for weight loss.

How to use milk in your weight loss diet

Milk can be used in so many ways and can be easily added to your diet. In addition to drinking milk, you can try these ideas for adding it into your weight loss diet:


Milk will be a good high-protein base for healthy smoothies. Try combining it with vegetables and a small amount of fruit for a nutritious and filling snack.

Chai & Coffee

Adding it to your morning coffee or tea will give your drink a boost of beneficial nutrients that milk has.

Masala chai

Oats or overnight oats

Milk provides a tasty, more nutritious alternative to water when making your morning oats or if soaking oats overnight.


Try adding milk to your favorite soup recipe for added flavor and nutrition.

Turmeric milk (haldi doodh)

Turmeric and pepper is a great combination in milk, especially if you are feeling symptoms of cough, cold or flu.

Milk with turmeric & pepper

Is drinking milk at night good for weight loss?

According to Ayurvedic medicine, cow’s milk should be consumed in the evening. This is because the Ayurvedic school of thought considers milk to be sleep-inducing and heavy to digest, making it unsuitable as a morning drink. While there is not enough scientific evidence in terms of research done to directly support this claim, it’s worth mentioning. There is no research to indicate that drinking milk at a particular time is better.

Drinking milk after exercise seems to help with muscle growth, fat loss and recovery, due to its high protein content.

Milk can help as a healthy snack option too. Either by itself or as part of a drink, you can use it as a healthy snack instead of sugary or oily foods.

Overall, the best time to drink milk depends on your personal schedule and needs. Look at your daily schedule to decide when to best have it to support your weight loss and health goals.

Best milk for weight loss

There are many plant-based options available so you may wonder which milk is best for weight loss.

Cow’s milk seems to be the best milk for weight loss, mainly due to the amount of research supporting it and its rich profile of nutrients.

If you would like to see how you can use milk as part of a balanced diet based on Indian food, see our article on low-carb Indian food. We have included dairy products as part of a 7-day diet chart for weight loss.


Milk is one of the most nutritious drinks in the world and makes for a good addition to a balanced diet.

Avoid milk only if you are lactose intolerant, or have any other medical condition where it is advisable to limit dairy, in which case you can look at plant-based options like soy milk.

Otherwise if you are trying to lose weight, there is no need to eliminate milk or milk-based products from your diet. It is an essential part of a balanced diet and moderate consumption of cow’s milk is healthy for most people.

The Daily9 system for weight loss

We’ve worked with thousands of Indian men and women and understand the unique challenges they face when trying to lose weight or find a weight loss diet plan. You can see some of our success stories here. The Daily9 system is proven to work as an effective weight loss diet plan. The expert coaches at Daily9 have developed practical ideas and strategies that work in real life and improve the weight loss that you can achieve with Daily9. This helps with weight loss and also many health conditions that Indian men and women face like digestive issues, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid, fatty liver and joint problems from excess weight.

While there are many calorie counters out there, we believe that a focus on quality & nutrition (and not just calories) is critical for any weight loss diet plan. Instead of tracking calories, we believe in tracking healthy habits at Daily9.

Most importantly, the Daily9 approach to weight loss is practical and suits an Indian family environment. This will set you up for success with weight loss and also weight maintenance in the long run.

About the Author

Coach Shivani
Shivani is a Precision Nutrition-Certified Nutrition Coach with experience of coaching thousands of women. As a mom of two, Shivani knows what it takes for women to achieve weight loss & a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise & sleep habits. She dislikes one-size-fits-all type advice.

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