For the next month, this former skim milk drinker will switch to whole milk. Yes, I am making my body a scientific experiment.
It just makes sense: People who want to become or stay slim drink either skim or 1% milk, right? That’s the only kind of milk we had at our house growing up. And when you are used to watery milk, when you do have whole milk, it “tastes gross.” But when I received the May 2011 issue of Details magazine (which they strangely keep sending me though I didn’t renew my subscription after January), I was intrigued by the front cover. I’m not referring to the picture of Mark Ruffalo, but instead the caption that read, “Is Skim Milk Making You Fat?“
After reading the article, I’m convinced the answer is yes- skim milk can cause weight gain . Basically, here’s how it works:
As you know, there are “good fats” that your body craves and needs. They don’t cause you to gain weight as long as you don’t gorge in them and/or combine then with processed sugar. These good fats can be found in nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil. There are also “bad fats” that we often substitute in the place of the good fats. Our body craves the good fats but it’s easier and more convenient to eat the bad fats; they can be found in fried foods, large portions of red meat, ice cream and any other dairy product with added sugar.
According to the article, milk fat actually falls in the category of good fats. So when the fat is removed from the milk (making it a more processed food), essentially you’re depriving yourself of the most important part of the food; which is the good fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat as long as it’s good fat and you don’t add sugar to it.
Not only does it not cause you to gain weight, but fat from whole milk does not raise your cholesterol. Here’s why: There is also “good cholesterol” which is not bad for your heart and “bad cholesterol,” which does cause heart disease. And conveniently, the good fat from the whole milk is the good cholesterol.
A third reason that fat from whole milk is good for you (I didn’t realize we were counting) is that fat slows down the flow of sugar into the bloodstream. Sugar causes fat to stick to your body. It’s like this:
fat + sugar = fat is stored in body
fat + no sugar = fat passes through the body
So if you consume whole milk with Fruity Pebbles, the fat from the whole milk may cause you to gain weight because of the sugar. But if you consume whole milk with straight oatmeal or a high fiber/low sugar cereal like Wheat Chex, the fat will pass through.
(I recognize that milk contains lactose, which is a form of sugar, but it’s a natural part of milk so I’m not worried about it. Just like the way fruit contains lots of sugar, but when you eat the fruit itself, the fiber in the fruit basically cancels out the negative effects.)
Need another reason whole milk is the best choice? It triggers the “I’m full” hormone, causing you to want to stop eating.
And this may not gross you out, but it does me: Skim and 1% milk become a bluish-white, chalky liquid by the time all the fat is removed. Therefore, powdered milk is added to these low fat milks to whiten them.
So back to the question in the title of this post: Does switching from skim milk to whole milk really cause you to gain weight?
No, I’m convinced it does not.
And I’m convinced that yes, skim milk does make you fat. But I’m not just taking Paul John Scott’s word for it (the guy who wrote the article for Details magazine). I am trying this theory out for myself; and more importantly, on myself. As of yesterday, May 14th, I have switched to whole milk. On a daily basis, I consume around 12 ounces of milk (in my coffee, which I don’t add sugar to) and in my oatmeal; also no sugar added. I weighed myself on a digital scale:
On June 14th, after a month, I will write a sequel to this post proclaiming my weight again. Obviously, nothing else in my diet or lifestyle will change- just the milk. Let me point out that I am not trying to lose weight. I am simply testing out a theory. If anything, I’m trying to prove that I won’t gain weight.
Would you like to predict whether I will gain or lose weight by taking this month-long milk challenge? Leave a comment. Then find out in a month whether your prediction was correct, when I write the follow-up post. Mark your calendar now for this exciting event: June 14th.
Or just click here to travel to the future and learn the results!