Almond Milk vs Skim Milk: Which is Better? A Comparison


Informing people about healthy foods like almond or skim milk is part of my Health Coaching job. Many of my clients want to know if one milk is better than the other. Therefore, let’s answer, which is better, almond milk or skim milk?

Almond milk is better than skim due to its lower percentage of calories, carbohydrates and sugar. Almond milk is better for weight loss, for people who must limit their sugar intake, it’s lactose free and vegan friendly. Almond milk has a lower glycemic index than skim milk.

This article will include a side-by-side nutrient comparison of both. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, prices, glycemic indexes, health benefits and whether one can substitute for the other.

Almond Milk vs Skim Milk: The Difference

Both milks are healthy choices but they’re not the same. Therefore, let’s examine how they’re different.

Almond milk is lactose-free and dairy-free while skim milk contains dairy and lactose. Almond milk is plant based and made from almonds while skim milk is made from cow’s milk.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is a plant-based milk that gained popularity as a dairy milk alternative a couple of decades ago. This is largely due to the flavor profile compared to previous dairy alternatives 1. How is it made?

Almond milk is manufactured by crushing almonds into a pulpy mixture. Water is added to the mixture and then it is strained. The remaining liquid is packaged and sold in cartons. 

Skim Milk

Skim milk is made from full-fat dairy milk by removing the fat with a high-speed separator resembling a centrifuge 2. This is a mechanical process and no chemicals are involved.

Although the fat has been removed, the remaining nutrients are the same type as whole milk. 

Almond Milk vs Skim Milk: Nutrient Comparison

The following is a nutrient comparison between store bought unsweetened almond milk and skim milk:

  Almond Milk (1 cup)

Store/Unsweetened

Skim Milk (1 cup)
Calories 39 91
Protein 1.05 g 8.75 g
Carbohydrates 3.43 g 12.30 g
Fiber 0.5 g 0 g
Fat 2.52 g 0.61 g
Sugar 0 g 12.3 g
Vitamin A 150 mcg 157 mcg
Vitamin C 0 mg 2.45 mg
Vitamin D 2.5 mcg 2.9 mcg
Vitamin B6 0 mg 0.11 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 2.62 mcg  12.20 mcg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0 mg  0.10 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.02 mg  0.42 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.18 mg  0.22 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 0.02 mg  0.83 mg
Magnesium 16 mg  37 mg
Phosphorous 24 mg  255 mg
Potassium 176 mg 419 mg
Iron 0.73 mg 0.12 mg
Copper 0.05 mg  0.02 mg
Calcium 482 mg 316 mg
Zinc 0.15 mg  1.00 mg

Nutrient Resources 3 4 5

Both are nutrient dense. Therefore, at first glance it may be difficult to determine which is healthier.

Almond milk is healthier due to its fewer calories, carbohydrates and sugar. Almond milk provides a greater percentage of iron, copper and calcium. Almond milk is lactose free and has a lower glycemic index.

Skim milk is healthy also and contains a higher percentage of protein, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium.

Which to Choose?

Choosing between the two may depend on your particular goals. Let’s examine some of the most popular goals people have.

Weight Loss

The number of calories per serving matters greatly if your goal is to shed some extra pounds. Even the smallest differences can add up pretty quickly. Let’s examine which is better for weight loss.

Almond milk is better for weight loss because it has 39 calories and skim milk has 91 calories per 1 cup. It provides 52 fewer calories than skim milk. This equals 134% less calories while drinking almond milk per 1 cup serving.

Keto or Low Carb Diets

If you’re on one of these diets or considering it, the number of carbohydrates may make a huge difference in your decision. Every gram of carbohydrates is important when on a low carb diet.

Therefore, let’s examine which one has fewer carbs.

Almond milk has fewer carbohydrates per 1 cup serving than skim milk making it better for low carb diets. Skim milk contains 12.3 grams of carbs per 1 cup and almond milk contains 3.4 grams. This equals 260% fewer grams of carbs per 1 cup serving.

Bodybuilding

If gaining lean muscle mass on your body is the goal then the amount of protein and carbohydrates may matter to you.

Extra protein helps to build and repair muscle fibers after a strenuous workout. Healthy carbohydrates help to fuel energy and increase performance while exercising or lifting weights.

Therefore, let’s examine which is better for bodybuilding.

Skim milk is better for bodybuilding than almond milk due to its higher percentage of protein and carbohydrates. The extra carbs can help fuel exercise performance and the added protein may help rebuild damaged muscle.

Protein

  • Skim milk has 733% more protein per one cup.

Carbohydrates

  • Skim milk has 260% more carbohydrates per one cup serving.
drinking milk at the gym
Drinking skim milk at the gym.

Gluten Free

For people who have celiac disease or wish to follow a gluten free diet the goal is clear cut, avoid gluten. Therefore, let’s answer which one is gluten free.

Almond milk and skim milk are both gluten free and good for gluten free diets. Some flavored milks may have additives that are not gluten free so always check the label prior to consuming them.

Sugar Concerns

If the amount of sugar in your meals is important, you’ll want to know which of the two milks has less sugar.

Unsweetened almond milk has less sugar than skim milk making it better for people with diabetes or those who can’t consume much sugar. Unsweetened almond milk contains 0 grams of sugar while skim milk contains 12.3 grams per one cup serving.

Vegan or Vegetarian

If you’re thinking about following a vegan or vegetarian diet consuming dairy products or animal-derived products is important. Knowing which one is vegan or vegetarian friendly may help you choose between the two milks.

Almond milk is better than skim for vegans or vegetarians because it is not considered dairy and is not an animal-derived product. Skim milk is cow’s milk that went through a skimming process to remove the fat.

Lactose Intolerance

People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the lactose in milk. Lactose intolerance is also called milk intolerance. So knowing which milk is better for lactose intolerance is important.

Almond milk is better than skim milk for lactose intolerance because it is lactose free while skim milk contains lactose. Therefore, if you must decrease the amount of dairy, the plant based almond milk is the better choice.

almond milk vs skim milk comparison

Taste and Texture

Sometimes all the issues and goals listed above don’t matter, and the taste and texture may make the difference when choosing between the two. If someone doesn’t like how a food tastes, they will probably leave it on the shelf.

Therefore, let’s examine how the taste and texture of each one and how they compare.

Almond milk has a slightly nutty flavor while skim milk can have a bit of a chalky and bland taste. Skim milk tastes sweeter than regular almond milk because it has more sugar. Sweetened almond milk will have a similar sweetness to skim milk. Almond milk has a creamier consistency than the watery skim milk.

I wanted to get the opinion of real people like you by conducting some original research. So I reached out to some of my clients, readers and members of food groups and asked, what tastes better, almond milk or skim milk?

  • 76% said they preferred the taste of almond milk.
  • 20% said they preferred the taste of skim milk.
  • 4% said it didn’t matter.

In the battle of taste, almond milk tastes better and was the winner in the poll by a landslide.

Substitutions

Sometimes people want to substitute one food for the other due to taste, availability or for health reasons. This makes people wonder if they can substitute each milk for the other.

Almond milk and skim milk can substitute for each other because they have a similar consistency although the flavor will differ slightly. When substituting one for the other, use a 1:1 ratio and the cooking time should be similar. 

Either one can be used in any recipe or dish regular milk is used for. When substituting always add the same amount, 1:1 ratio. When using either one instead of regular milk, the cooking time may lessen.

Skim milk or almond milk can be used for the following:

  • White sauces
  • Puddings
  • Ice cream
  • Pancakes
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Baking
  • Smoothies
  • Mac and cheese
  • Mashed potatoes

Which one is better for coffee?

Almond milk is better for coffee than skim milk due to its slightly creamier texture. It’s better to allow it to cool down a little before adding it to the coffee for less curdling. Almond milk can also be frothed into a nice foam.

The Prices

The price of foods purchased every week is important to most people, especially with inflation the way it is. Let’s take a close look at how much each one costs.

Almond milk costs more per 64 ounce container and ounce than skim milk. The average price for almond milk is $2.92 for a 64 ounce container. The average price for skim milk is $2.63 for a 64 ounce container.

To conduct my own research, I visited some local supermarkets and compared the prices of each one. Here are my findings.

First I checked the Walmart supermarket:

  • Store brand almond milk
    • 64 ounce container is $2.36. This equals $0.037 per ounce
  • Store brand skim milk
    • 64 ounce container is $2.08. This equals $0.033 per ounce

I then checked my local Shoprite supermarket:

  • Store brand almond milk
    • 64 ounce container is $3.49. This equals $0.054 per ounce
  • Store brand skim milk
    • 64 ounce container is $3.19. This equals $0.049 per ounce

Glycemic Indexes

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 6. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 7

Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:

  • Low-GI foods: 55 or under
  • Medium-GI foods: 56-69
  • High-GI foods: 70 or over

How blood sugars levels are affected:

  • Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.

Let’s examine which milk has a higher glycemic index.

Almond milk has a lower glycemic index than skim milk although they are both considered low glycemic foods. Skim milk has a glycemic index between 32 and 40. Almond milk has a glycemic index between 25 and 30.

different types of almond milk in the store
Different types of almond milk in the store.

Health Benefits 

This section will examine the health benefits of the nutrients provided by both milks. Each section includes the benefits of each nutrient and a breakdown of the numbers and percentages provided by each one.

Almond Milk Health Benefits

Calcium

  • Almond milk provides 52% more calcium per one cup.

Calcium helps the following:

  • Helps nerve function.
  • Help the muscles to function properly.
  • Build and maintain strong bones.

In addition, calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 8.

Iron

  • Almond milk provides 510% more iron per one cup.

Iron is a necessary part of any healthy diet 9 and may help with the following:

  • Vital for development and growth.
  • Is essential the creation of red blood cells.
  • Help some hormones remain balanced.
  • Help the immune system.

Skim Milk Health Benefits

Magnesium

  • Skim milk provides 130% more magnesium per one cup.

Magnesium helps the body control the following:

  • Nerve function
  • Blood pressure
  • Muscle function
  • Insomnia
  • Blood sugar

Many people supplement with magnesium in the evening because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 10.

Potassium

  • Skim milk contains 138% more potassium per one cup.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 11. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.

B Vitamins

Skim milk provides a higher percentage of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9. 

The B vitamins provided include the following:

  1. B1 (thiamin) 
  2. B2 (riboflavin) 
  3. B3 (niacin) 
  4. B5 
  5. B6 
  6. B9 (folate) 

B vitamins help support the following 12:

  • Brain function.
  • Digestion.
  • Nerve function.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Red blood cells.
  • Energy levels.

Phosphorus

  • Skim milk provides 963% more phosphorus per one cup.

Phosphorus has been shown in scientific studies to help with the following:

  • Help the body store and manage energy.
  • Promote healthy nerve conduction.
  • Promote teeth and bone health.
  • Help the kidneys remove waste.
  • Muscle contraction and recovery.

Find out how almond milk compared to cashew milk in my article, Cashew Milk vs Almond Milk: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.

Additional article resources 13 2 14 15

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Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review[]
  2. Wikipedia: Skimmed milk[][]
  3. USDA: Beverages, almond milk, unsweetened, shelf stable []
  4. USDA: Milk, nonfat, fluid, with added nonfat milk solids, vitamin A and vitamin D (fat free or skin) []
  5. USDA: Almond milk, unsweetened, plain, refrigerated[]
  6. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]
  7. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes[]
  8. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  9. National Institutes of Health: Iron[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  11. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  12. Harvard T.H. Chan: B Vitamins[]
  13. The University of Sydney: Your GI Shopping Guide[]
  14. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Milk and dairy products: good or bad for human health? An assessment of the totality of scientific evidence[]
  15. University Hospitals: Cow’s Milk vs. Plant-Based Milk: Which is Better?[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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