What milk Can you drink as a diabetic?

As a diabetic, choosing the right milk is an important part of managing your condition. The carbohydrates and sugars found in milk can affect your blood sugar levels. Fortunately, there are healthy milk options for diabetics.

Can You Drink Regular Milk If You Have Diabetes?

Regular milk contains a natural sugar called lactose, which is a carbohydrate. Diabetics have difficulty regulating carbohydrate intake because carbs are broken down into glucose, which raises blood sugar levels. While small amounts of carbs from milk are usually fine, drinking large glasses of regular milk is not recommended for diabetics.

The Best Milk Options for Diabetics

The best milk choices for diabetics are:

  • Skim or nonfat milk – These have less fat and carbs than whole milk.
  • 1% or 2% reduced fat milk – The fat content is lowered compared to whole milk.
  • Organic milk – Some studies show organic milk may have higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids compared to regular milk.
  • Lactose-free milk – These are lactose-reduced or lactose-free and thus lower in carbs.
  • Soy milk – Soy milk has protein but no lactose.
  • Almond milk – Almond milk is plant-based, low in carbs, but lacks protein.

Nutritional Content of Milks – Carbs, Sugars and Protein

Here is a comparison of the nutritional content per 8 ounce serving of common milk varieties:

Milk Type Total Carbs Sugars Protein
Whole milk 12g 12g lactose 8g
2% reduced fat 12g 12g lactose 8g
1% low-fat 12g 12g lactose 8g
Skim milk 12g 12g lactose 8g
Lactose-free milk 12g 0g lactose 8g
Soy milk 4g 1g sugars 7g
Almond milk 1g 1g sugars 1g

As shown, lactose-free and plant-based milks like soy and almond are lowest in carbs and sugar, while still providing protein. Skim and low-fat dairy milk also have decent protein with reduced fat versus whole milk.

Tips for Choosing the Best Milk for Diabetes

Here are some tips when selecting milk with diabetes in mind:

  • Go for low-fat or nonfat milk – Less fat means fewer calories and carbs.
  • Lactose-free is ideal – With no lactose sugar, these won’t spike blood glucose.
  • Soy milk has protein – Soy gives you protein without the lactose in dairy milk.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened milk – Flavored milks often have added sugars – avoid these.
  • Watch portions – Stick to 8 ounce portion sizes of milk.
  • Consider supplements – If using non-dairy milks, you may need a calcium supplement.
  • Read the label – Check carb and sugar counts when choosing milk.

Can Diabetics Drink Chocolate Milk?

Chocolate milk has added sugar and is higher in carbohydrates, so it’s not the best choice for diabetics. An 8oz glass of chocolate milk can have up to 24g carbs and 24g sugar, compared to 12g of natural lactose sugar in regular milk. Most experts recommend avoiding sweetened chocolate milk if you have diabetes.

Healthiest Milk Options for Diabetes

The healthiest milk options for people with diabetes include:

  • Fat-free skim milk – Skim milk cuts the fat but retains protein with 0% fat.
  • 1% low-fat milk – Just 3.25% fat versus 8% in whole milk.
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt – High in protein, low in sugar and lactose.
  • Soy milk – Plant-based, protein-rich, and low carb.
  • Unsweetened almond milk – Extremely low carb at only 1g net carb per cup.

These provide the benefits of dairy or plant-based milk while limiting carbohydrate content. When picking dairy milk options, always go for low-fat or fat-free versions.

Milk for Diabetic Kids

Growing children with diabetes have unique nutritional needs, but here are healthy milk options:

  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy milk – Provides calcium for bone health.
  • Lactose-free milk – May be easier to digest.
  • Soy milk – Plant-based protein and vitamin D with less sugar.
  • Limit sugary flavored milk – But can occasionally drink small amounts of flavored milk like chocolate milk.

Monitor carb counts, read labels carefully, and stick to kid-size portions. Milk is an important source of dietary calcium, vitamin D, and protein for diabetic kids.

Best Milk for Gestational Diabetes

For women with gestational diabetes, these healthy milk options can help control blood sugar:

  • Fat-free milk – Provides protein with less fat and carbs.
  • 1% milk – Lower fat than whole milk.
  • Lactose-free milk – Contains less lactose sugar.
  • Unsweetened soy milk – Plant-based, low sugar.
  • Limit flavored milks – Higher in added sugars.

Pregnant women need ample protein, calcium, and other nutrients. Low-fat, low-sugar milk options can provide those without spiking blood glucose levels.

Sample Milk Meal Plan for Diabetics

Here is a sample daily meal plan featuring healthy milk options for diabetics:


  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 cup oatmeal cooked with water
  • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup blueberries


  • Turkey and avocado sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • 1 oz fat-free mozzarella cheese stick
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 oz unsalted almonds


  • 3 oz grilled salmon
  • 1 cup roasted Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 8 oz lactose-free milk


  • 1 small apple
  • 1 string cheese stick

This provides low-carb, high-protein milk options at meals and snacks to help manage blood sugar.

Supplementing with Milk Protein Powder

Whey and milk protein powders can be beneficial for those with diabetes by providing protein that helps maintain muscle mass and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Choose unflavored milk protein powders without added sugars.

Risks of Too Much Milk for Diabetics

Drinking too much milk could lead to:

  • Blood sugar spikes from excess lactose sugars
  • Weight gain from increased calorie intake
  • Gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea
  • Increased cholesterol and saturated fat if drinking whole milk

Moderation is key – limit milk to no more than 16 to 24 ounces per day as part of a balanced diabetic diet.

Milk Alternatives for Vegans/ Vegetarians with Diabetes

Those with diabetes who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet can choose from many healthy dairy-free milks including:

  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Hemp milk

Look for unsweetened varieties and stick to 8oz portions to keep carbs in check. Fortified non-dairy milks provide calcium, vitamin D, and protein from plants.

The Takeaway on Milk and Diabetes

Here are some key tips for diabetics on choosing healthy milk options:

  • Opt for low-fat and fat-free dairy milk.
  • Lactose-free milk is lower in carbs.
  • Non-dairy milks like unsweetened soy and almond are great alternatives.
  • Limit milk to 8 to 12oz portions.
  • Avoid sugary flavored milks.
  • Read nutrition labels for carb counts.
  • Include milk as part of a balanced diabetic diet.

Overall, milk can be part of a healthy diet when living with diabetes. Just opt for low-fat, low-sugar varieties in moderation as part of an overall nutrition plan focused on regulating blood sugar levels.

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