Is Skim Milk Lactose Free? What You Need to Know

Looking for lactose free milk you can actually drink? You’re not alone – in America, 30 million to 50 million people struggle with lactose intolerance. When you consider how many people are lactose intolerant, it’s surprising how much confusion and misinformation is out there about lactose free foods. Especially when it comes to milk, there’s so many options that it’s easy to get confused. Today, we’ll clear up some common misconceptions about skim milk and answer the question: is skim milk lactose free? Then, we’ll dig into what milk you can drink.

So, Is Skim Milk Lactose Free?

No, skim milk is not lactose free. Skim milk, which is also called fat free or nonfat milk, typically has 12 grams of lactose in every cup. It’s important to note that the level of lactose intolerance is different in each person. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), “Research suggests that many people could have 12 grams of lactose—the amount in about 1 cup of milk—without symptoms or with only mild symptoms.”

Do you want to blow your daily allowance of lactose on a glass of skim milk? For us, that answer is a definite no. Of course, your tolerance might be even lower than 12 grams, depending on your sensitivity level. Don’t worry, with the demand for dairy free alternatives on the rise, there are tons of lactose free milks on the market today. Let’s break them down.

Lactose Free Dairy Milks

Lactose free milks are the same as regular milk, except they’ve had the lactose removed. In some instances, the way the lactose is removed can affect the flavor of the milk, giving it a slightly sweet flavor. That being said, most large grocery stores offer their own brand of lactose free milk, so it’s easy to find. We suggest trying as many brands as you need to, til you find a winner that suits your taste buds. Just as regular milk has several versions – whole milk, 2%, skim, low fat, and nonfat – the same can be said for lactose free milks. Just keep your eyes peeled for the phrase “lactose free” in the milk aisle. Here are some of the top brands on the market:

Naturally Lactose Free Vegan Milks

As the name implies, vegan milks do not come from cows. Although the name is deceiving, these products are not actually milk or dairy at all. They’re meant to act as an alternative. If you’re looking to avoid dairy entirely, opt for a vegan milk. There’s a wide range, so we’ll just cover the most popular options and what brands to look for.

  • Soy milk – Soy milk is one of the most common and popular vegan milks. In fact, it’s been around for hundreds of years. With 8 grams of protein per serving, it has more protein than most other vegan milks. It’s creamy and smooth, though some do find it to be chalky. You can find soy milk almost anywhere, and often from most major grocery store chain’s house brands, like Great Value at Walmart. Silk is the one of the most popular milk alternative brands, and they have a great soy milk option. If you’re ever at a coffee shop or smoothie bar, you’ll find that soy milk is the most common milk alternative offered.
  • Oat milk – Oat milk is super trendy at the moment. Starbucks even recently adopted it, as it’s super creamy and delicious in coffee. It’s a good mix of creamy, plain, but lightly sweet. It’s one of the cheapest and easiest to make at home, if you’re looking to take less trips to the grocery store. Oatly is one of the most popular brands to buy in stores, or check out a recipe to make your own here.
  • Almond milk – Almond milk is very light and low calorie – it’s almost watery. When you get the unsweetened variety, it’s only 30 calories per cup. It has a subtle almond flavor, but it isn’t sweet. Our favorite brand is Blue Diamond, though most milk alternative brands offer their own version.
  • Coconut milk – Coconut milk comes canned or in a carton. The canned variety is thick, more like heavy cream. Coconut milk is great for making dairy free whipped cream, or for pies. The second option is coconut milk that comes in a carton, often in the refrigerated section. This kind is more watered down, and meant to be used like regular milk. It has a stronger flavor than other non-dairy milks, so you don’t like the flavor of coconut , this one isn’t for you. We prefer the So Delicious brand for coconut milk.
  • Cashew milk – Cashew milk is creamier than almond milk, though the calorie count is similar. It has a subtle nutty flavor, and also lacks sweetness, unless you get a sweetened variety. You’ll often find blends of cashew and almond milks. Silk cashew milk can be found at most major grocery store chains with all the other milk alternatives.
  • Rice milk – Rice milk is one of the best substitutes for rice milk. It’s thin and watery in consistency, similar to skim milk. It’s lower in protein than most other milks on this list, while still being a bit higher calorie – 120 calories per serving. Overall, it’s a smooth and light milk to drink. It is very lightly sweet, even when you buy the unsweetened variety. Rice Dream is the best brand for rice milk.
  • Hemp milk – Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds which have several health benefits. Most notably, they contain a high percentage of omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp gets a bad rap, but hemp seeds are actually very healthy. When blended, they made a nice, creamy milk. Check out Pacific Foods if you want to try this milk.
  • Hazelnut milk – We’re big fans of hazelnut milk. You can definitely taste the hazelnut in this milk, so if you don’t like that flavor, this one won’t be for you. It’s a nice middle ground between thin and thick – just right. You can find hazelnut milk from Pacific Foods. If you’re a fan of Nutella or Ferrero Rocher, we highly recommend checking out their chocolate hazelnut milk. It’s like drinking your favorite treats, but dairy free.

What’s your go to dairy free milk? Do you go for lactose free dairy milk, like Lactaid, or are you more of an oat milk person? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

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