Is Whole Milk the New Skim?

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On a daily basis, I hear myself saying, “Yes dairy foods are a great addition to your diet!  But make sure you choose skim or 1% milk and low-fat or fat-free cheese and yogurt.”  Literally, I feel like I say this each and everyday.  It’s been ingrained in my head – not only through all of my schooling, but pretty much my whole life.  I’ve always consume fat-free or low-fat dairy products.  Never whole milk.  Never full fat yogurt.  So many calories.  Way too high in fat.  Not good for my waistline or health, right??? milk3
Recently, there has been a spattering of new research that’s telling us our tried and true belief to consume low-fat/fat-free dairy products might not be true!  That the full fat, whole milk products might actually be a better choice.  Crazy!  But the research is good.  Not undeniable.  But good enough to question the current recommendations.

There are two studies in particular that have brought the dairy group into focus.  The first one studied a group of men – half consuming high fat dairy products and the other half consuming low-fat dairy products.  The study’s conclusions showed that those men consuming the high fat dairy products had a significantly lower rate of central obesity (a lot of fat tissue around your abdominal area) compared to those who consumed the low-fat dairy products (who had higher a much higher incidence of central obesity).  The second study, found that the consumption of high fat dairy products (within a normal dietary pattern) was inversely related to obesity and cardiometabolic risk (your chance of having heart disease, diabetes or stroke).

milk1 Really interesting conclusions from both studies!  And upon review many health experts have offered up their opinions on why this seemingly counter intuitive advice is now proving true.  The first thought is that consuming low-calorie items (like low-fat/fat free dairy) may make you feel less satisfied and compel you to eat more food throughout the day.  Another thought is that the higher fat content of full fat dairy keeps you full and satiated longer causing you to teat less throughout the day.  Both of those reasons definitely make sense in my mind.

milk2 So what does this mean for you?  Should keep on buying your regular old skim milk or switch to whole milk?  Well…here’s my take on this situation:

  • With these new studies, in addition to the new information out about saturated fats (see this post here), it might not be as bad as previously thought to consume full fat dairy products –  whole milk, full fat yogurt and cheeses plus butter too.  Adding in these foods to your diet may be a good addition.
  • That being said, if you switch to the full fat dairy, you should still take note of your total daily calories.  Regardless of skim or whole milk, too many calories on a daily basis may cause weight gain.  A high consumption of full fat dairy throughout the day may inch up that calorie intake higher than you’d expect.  And excess weight has been proven to increase your risk for a variety of chronic diseases.

For me, I think I’m going to stick to skim  milk.  I love the flavor and consistency.  Drinking whole milk is a little much for me.  However, I do use full fat cheeses and will consider using full fat yogurt! They have a much richer flavor, texture and consistency.  But if I do go with full fat, I’ll be watching those extra calories and making adjustments elsewhere in my diet!


  1. Melissa

    April 4, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I actually just started eating Noosa and Siggi’s yogurt instead of the fat free greek. I’m much more satisfied and there is less processing. But each is about 100 calories more than the low fat greek, so I consider more of a larger snack/small meal or I eat half with a piece of fruit.

    • mewinebrenner

      April 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Me too! I buy a local full fat greek yogurt and I love it. It’s rich and so flavorful but I don’t eat a whole cup anymore – just a half. I rather eat a bit less and enjoy it much more!

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