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Product Comparison: Cow’s milk VS Soy milk!

February 19, 2019

With a million different ‘milks’ on the market, which do you choose? 

You can be forgiven for thinking that there are ‘better’ options than the traditional cow’s milk… the marketing of soy, almond and oat ‘milks’ can be outstanding at times!

But what’s the difference between a cow’s milk and all of the others?

Today I take a specific look at cow’s milk (milk from a cow) vs soy milk (‘milk’ made from soybeans or from soy protein isolate powder).

*Cow’s Milk: per 100ml
Calories: 64
Protein: 3g
Carbohydrate: 5g
Sugars: 5g
Fat: 3g
Saturated fat: 2g
Calcium: 128mg
Sodium: 44mg
(Usually has ~0.5ug Vitamin B12)

*Soy Milk: per 100ml
Calories: 65
Protein: 3g
Carbohydrate: 5g
Fat: 4g
Saturated fat: 0g
Calcium: 160mg (fortified with)
Sodium: 40mg
Vitamin B12: 1.0ug (fortified with)

Wow. Are you seeing what I am seeing? There is virtually NO NUTRITIONAL DIFFERENCE between these milks. Most soy milks, while the soy is being reconstituted with water, are nutritionally adjusted to mimic the nutritional value of cow’s milk (mainly by adjusting the amount of oil and sugar).

It should be noted that soy milk does not naturally contain much calcium and does not naturally contain ANY vitamin B12. The reason the soy milk above has a comparable amount of calcium and vitamin B12 to the cow’s milk is because they have been added to the soy milk by the manufacturer (i.e the soy milk has been fortified with calcium and vitamin B12).

So, which do I choose?
The best thing you can do, is choose the one you prefer! AND also make sure that if you choose soy milk, there is at least 100mg of calcium per 100ml (this is comparable to cow’s milk) and at least 0.5ug of vitamin B12 per 100ml.

Lactose intolerant? Allergic to dairy foods? Vegan?
Soy milk is an obvious alternative for those with allergies to dairy.

It is also an alternative for those with lactose intolerance (but remember, there are lactose free cow’s milk’s too).

Soy is also a plant product and perfect for vegans or vegetarians who exclude cow’s milk.

It is really important that if you don’t consume cow’s milk for the purpose of an intolerance or an allergy that you find an alternative source of calcium in your diet and that vegans in particular find an alternative source of not only calcium but also of B12. A dietitian can help with this.

Recommended amounts of soy?
It is recommended that we consume only moderate amounts of soy (1-2 serves per day) and not over-do it (the reason for this is worth a separate blog post!) A serve is equivalent to 1 cup of soy milk (as one example.)

Any special mention for athletes? 
The only thing to note here is that studies continue to show protein in the form of whey (as found in cow’s milk) tends to be superior to protein in the form of soy (as found in soy beans/soy milk) when it comes to muscle protein synthesis (the building and adapting of muscle tissue). I tend to suggest athletes stick with cow’s milk unless they dislike it or are allergic to it.





*Figures taken from Dairy Farmers full cream milk and Soy Good Regular soy milk

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