Why Is Milk So Fattening?

Fresh milk on old wood background

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Milk supplies your body with a variety of important nutrients. In its natural state, cow’s milk contains fat, carbohydrates and protein. All these nutrients contain calories, the units of energy that your body uses for fuel. An excess of calories leads to weight gain. Nonfat dairy products are less fattening than those that contain whole milk.


When it comes to controlling your weight, calories in liquid beverages matter just as much as the calories you consume from solid food sources. Fats supply your body with about 9 calories per gram, while both carbohydrates and proteins supply about 4 calories per gram. These substances in milk can make this beverage fattening, depending on the type and amount you drink. Drinking too much milk can add an excessive number of calories to your daily intake, increasing your risk of weight gain.

Whole Milk

Whole milk is more fattening than nonfat milk due to its higher fat content. With almost 8 grams of fat, 1 cup of whole milk contains 149 calories. Slightly more than half of the fat calories are in the form of saturated fatty acids, while the rest are from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated acids. One cup of whole milk also provides about 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrates.

Nonfat Milk

Removing the fat particles from whole milk results in nonfat milk, a beverage that provides fewer calories. One cup of nonfat milk contains 83 calories. Although this processed dairy product contains only 0.2 grams of fat per 8-ounce serving, it still has calories from protein and carbohydrates. Like whole milk, a single cup of nonfat milk still contains about 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrates.


If you are trying to lose fat or maintain your weight, keep track of the calories in your drinks as well as those in your meals and snacks. Cut back on dairy fat by choosing nonfat milk rather than whole milk dairy products. Adults should drink no more than 16 to 24 ounces of milk per day, according to MayoClinic.com.