Adding milk to your meal plan is a tasty way to meet your calcium needs, but if you're choosing 2 percent milk, you might not be making the best choice for weight loss. Low-fat dairy, which includes 2 percent and 1 percent milk, is a healthy alternative to sodas, juice drinks with added sugars and whole milk. However, opting for skim milk could boost your weight loss even more.
Nutrition of Low-fat Milk
Two percent milk contains 125 calories per cup, so it can easily fit into a low-calorie diet. A cup of 2 percent milk also contains 8.53 grams of protein and 12.18 grams of carbohydrates. With 314 grams of calcium, 397 grams of potassium and 500 IU of vitamin A, fortified 2 percent milk helps you meet your macronutrient needs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends adults get three servings of low-fat dairy each day.
Low-fat Milk Benefits
A study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" in 2011 found that milk improved feelings of fullness after a meal, indicating that milk may help you stay satisfied longer and keep you from bingeing on unhealthy snacks between meals. If you choose 2 percent milk, you get fewer calories than whole milk but still can enjoy the creamy milk taste that is often lost in 1 percent and skim milk.
Disadvantages of 2 Percent Milk
Drinking 3 cups of 2 percent milk a day, a cup with each meal, adds 375 calories to your daily diet. If you consume a lot of 2 percent milk, you might need to cut back on calories in other areas of your diet to reach your weight-loss goals. Two percent milk also contains 4.7 grams of fat per cup, of which 3 grams is saturated fat, the type that contributes to heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends consuming 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories or less in the form of fat and limiting saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your daily calories. High milk consumption may put you over this limit even if you are within your daily calorie allowance, especially if other foods you eat during the day contain saturated fat.
Lower Calorie Options
Choosing 1 percent milk or skim milk can reduce your total calorie intake while still giving you all of the benefits of milk. Skim milk has 91 calories per cup, so switching to skim would save you over 100 calories a day if you regularly consume a cup of milk with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Skim milk is also lower in fat, with just .66 grams per cup, so switching could help you keep your fat intake low as well.