Yes, lactose-free milk has calories similar to regular milk. Lactose-free milk has the lactose sugar removed, but still contains the same nutrients like protein, fat, vitamins and minerals as regular milk.
What is lactose-free milk?
Lactose-free milk is regular cow’s milk that has had the lactose sugar removed. Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk that some people have difficulty digesting due to lactose intolerance. To make milk lactose-free, the lactose is broken down into simpler sugars using an enzyme called lactase. The resulting milk contains very little or no lactose, making it easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance.
Does lactose-free milk have calories?
Yes, lactose-free milk contains a similar number of calories as regular milk. The calorie content depends on the fat content:
- Fat-free or skim lactose-free milk has around 80 calories per 1 cup
- Low-fat (1%) lactose-free milk has around 100 calories per 1 cup
- 2% reduced-fat lactose-free milk has around 120 calories per 1 cup
- Whole lactose-free milk has around 150 calories per 1 cup
The calorie content is nearly identical to regular milk varieties. Removing the lactose sugar does not significantly alter the calorie or macronutrient profile of milk.
Why does lactose-free milk still have calories?
Lactose-free milk still has calories because the nutrient composition remains largely unchanged apart from the lactose content. It still contains:
- Protein: around 8 grams per 1 cup
- Fat: 8-15 grams per 1 cup depending on fat content
- Carbohydrates: around 12 grams per 1 cup
Protein and fat provide roughly 90% of the calories found in milk. So even with the lactose removed, lactose-free milk still provides significant calories from its protein and fat.
Nutritional comparison of lactose-free and regular milk
Here is a nutritional comparison between 1 cup of 2% reduced-fat regular milk and 2% lactose-free milk:
|Nutrient||2% Milk||2% Lactose-Free Milk|
As you can see, the calorie and macronutrient content is nearly identical between regular and lactose-free milk varieties.
Does removing lactose change the nutritional profile?
Removing the lactose sugar does not significantly alter the nutritional profile of milk. The protein, fat, vitamin and mineral content remains largely unchanged. The main nutritional differences are:
- Much lower in lactose sugar
- Slightly higher in glucose and galactose (simple sugars)
However, the differences are minor. Lactose makes up less than 5% of the total caloric content of regular milk. So removing it only causes a small change in the overall nutrition profile.
Can lactose-free milk help with weight loss?
Lactose-free milk can be included as part of a weight loss diet, but it has no special properties that increase fat burning. The slightly lower lactose content provides around 1-2 fewer grams of carbs per cup, but this difference is negligible.
The key things that help make milk supportive of weight loss are:
- High protein content – protein is satiating and helps build/preserve lean muscle mass
- Calcium – some research links calcium intake to fat loss
- Vitamin D – helps maintain healthy metabolism
Lactose-free milk contains the same amount of protein, calcium and vitamin D as regular milk. So it can absolutely be part of a healthy weight loss diet, but it does not specifically cause fat loss.
Should people with lactose intolerance drink lactose-free milk?
Yes, people with lactose intolerance can typically drink lactose-free milk without issues. Since the lactose content is significantly reduced, it does not cause the digestive symptoms like bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Lactose-free milk provides the same nutritional benefits as regular milk, giving lactose intolerant individuals an option to obtain protein, calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients found in dairy. Just make sure to choose lactose-free varieties and read labels carefully.
Are there any downsides to lactose-free milk?
There are no significant downsides to lactose-free milk in terms of nutrition or health:
- It is slightly more processed than regular milk due to the lactase enzyme treatment.
- May have slightly higher blood glucose impact due to higher simple sugar content.
- Slightly more expensive than regular milk.
However, the differences are small. Lactose-free milk makes it possible for lactose intolerant people to enjoy dairy and obtain the same nutrients found in regular cow’s milk.
In summary, lactose-free milk contains a similar number of calories and nutrients as regular milk. Removing the lactose sugar does not significantly alter the calorie, protein, fat, vitamin or mineral content. Therefore, lactose-free milk can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet by those with lactose intolerance.