Coconut Milk vs Cow’s Milk For Weight Loss  — 3 Best Benefits Of Each

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Coconut Milk vs Cow's Milk For Weight Loss

Weight loss involves a multifaceted approach encompassing factors like your dietary choices, food quality, physical activity, and one often overlooked but pivotal aspect: the beverages you consume. The type of drinks you choose can significantly impact your calorie intake and overall progress towards your weight loss goals.

Today’s market offers a wide array of milk varieties, each boasting unique nutrient sources and health benefits. Among the many suitable options, coconut milk and cow’s milk stand out as two commonly chosen alternatives to explore.

In this article, we will compare coconut milk vs cow’s milk for weight loss to help you choose which one will do the best job at helping you lose weight.

Coconut Milk

Filtered water and grated mature coconut flesh are used to make coconut cream, which is then used to make coconut milk. Despite its name, coconut isn’t technically a nut. Therefore, those who have nut allergies can consume it without risk.

Coconut milk frequently includes additional thickeners and other additives, much like other plant-based milk substitutes.

The Nutritional Content Of Coconut Milk

Coconut milk tends to be higher in calories compared to cow’s milk. On average, a one-cup serving of canned coconut milk contains approximately 552 calories, most of which come from fat1.

The fat content in coconut milk is mainly composed of more saturated fat, which has been a subject of debate regarding its impact on weight loss. Some studies suggest that not all saturated fats are equal, and the specific types of fats in coconut milk, such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), may have distinct metabolic effects2,3.

While coconut milk is calorie-dense due to its fat content, it is relatively lower in essential nutrients like protein and calcium than cow’s milk. Some coconut milk beverages, like almond milk, are fortified with vitamin B12 and vitamin D to improve their nutritional value.

Diets rich in essential nutrients can help control hunger and provide the necessary building blocks for maintaining muscle mass during weight loss efforts.

Health Benefits Of Coconut Milk

Coconut milk offers several potential health benefits due to its nutrient content and unique composition:

1. Antioxidants

Antioxidant phenols can be found in coconut milk. The body can ward off disease by using antioxidants to fight or eliminate free radicals.

According to studies, the phenolic component of coconut may help shield the body’s lipids, proteins, and DNA against oxidative stress-related damage that may lead to cancer and heart disease4.

2. Antimicrobial for Fighting Infection

Coconut has lauric acid that is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, suggesting that it may help support the immune system5.

Other researchers discovered that lauric acid causes breast and endometrial cancer cells to undergo apoptosis or cell death, which raises the possibility that it can stop the growth of cancer cells6.

However, coconut milk contains a small quantity of lauric acid, which may be insufficient to claim that it prevents cancer.

3. Aids in Weight Loss

Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are fats found in coconut milk. MCTs promote energy through promoting thermogenesis or the generation of heat.

According to research7, MCTs may aid in the following:

  • lower body weight and fat accumulation
  • lead people to experience prolonged fullness after eating
  • to improve insulin sensitivity, which may help with weight loss
  • enhance your physical endurance

Study results imply that consuming coconut milk alongside a high-protein diet may help lower or regulate levels of belly fat, weight increase, food consumption, cholesterol, and triglycerides8.

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk, often referred to as whole milk, is directly sourced from cows. It is collected and may undergo processing to meet strict food safety standards, ensuring its suitability for human consumption.

Whole, pasteurized cow’s milk and vitamin D-fortified soy beverages are excellent calcium and vitamin D providers.

Cow’s milk is a widely consumed and versatile substance used in various culinary applications and food products.

The Nutritional Content Of Cow’s Milk

In contrast to coconut milk, cow’s milk generally has fewer calories. A one-cup of 2% reduced-fat cow’s milk typically contains around 122 calories, while whole milk contains approximately 150-160 calories per cup9.

From a nutritional standpoint, cow’s milk has much to offer. A cup of whole milk has 8 grams of protein, roughly the same quantity as one ounce of seafood or poultry and cooked meat. It is also packed with fats and carbohydrates that will help if you want to start your day or refuel after exercise.

In addition, cow’s milk is a good source of nutrients, including calcium, which helps maintain strong bones10, and vitamin B12 and D, which benefits the brain and keeps your metabolism running smoothly. Cow’s milk also contains potassium, which helps maintain good blood pressure and a strong heart11.

Health Benefits Of Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk contains valuable nutrients and provides several potential benefits. They include:

1. Bone Strength

Strong bones and teeth, smooth muscle motion, and healthy nerve messages depend on calcium, an essential vitamin. Health professionals advise consuming adequate calcium to help prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis12.

Calcium can be found in milk. Vitamin D, another good for bone health, is added to cow’s milk.

2. Assists in Certain Types of Cancer

Aside from bone strength, calcium and vitamin D may help prevent cancer. To lower the risk of colon or rectal cancer, calcium12 may serve to protect the gut lining. Vitamin D13 might be involved in controlling cell development. In addition to breast and prostate cancer, it may also help prevent colon cancer.

3. May Help with Depression

Serotonin, a hormone connected to mood, hunger, and sleep, is produced in response to adequate vitamin D levels14.

A 2020 study found a connection between clinical depression and vitamin D deficiencies15.

Who Should Not Drink Milk?

Even though milk offers many perks, you might leave it out of your diet for various reasons. Around 2-3% of babies have milk allergies16. Most kids tend to outgrow it when they hit six17. So, if you have a legit milk allergy, it’s best to steer clear of milk.

Lactose intolerance is more common than you might think. Around 36% of people in the United States and 68% of the world’s population have lactose intolerance18. This means your body doesn’t produce enough lactase enzyme, which helps break down the natural sugar, lactose, found in milk. Sipping on milk can lead to uncomfortable stomach issues. You can try lactose-free milk available as an option.

Some individuals skip milk but still enjoy other dairy goodies like cheese, yogurt, and kefir.

Plant-Based Milk Alternatives

  • Rice Milk: Rice milk is made from milled rice and water. Like other alternative milk, it frequently contains additives to improve consistency and shelf stability.
  • Almond Milk: Almonds are pulverized, and purified water is used to make almond milk. It could also include thickeners and starches to increase its consistency and shelf life.
  • Soy Milk: Filtered water and soybeans are used to make soy milk. Like other plant-based milk substitutes, it might include thickeners to increase consistency and shelf life.
  • Oat Milk: Oats naturally contain nutrients, including iron, essential for preventing anemia, and potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure levels.

Different Types Of Cow’s Milk

  • Whole Milk: Whole milk is a type of cow’s milk that contains a higher percentage of fat compared to other milk varieties. It is called “whole” because it has not undergone any fat removal or reduction processes. One cup has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat.
  • Natural Milk: It comes from cows that have not had antibiotic treatment, growth or reproduction-related hormones, or antibiotics and have consumed at least 30% of their diet on pasture.
  • Lower-Fat Milk: Lower-fat milk encompasses milk varieties with reduced fat content compared to whole milk. These options deliver fewer calories and lower levels of saturated fat while retaining vital nutrients.
  • Skim Milk: Skim milk, also known as fat-free milk, is a type of milk from which nearly all the fat has been removed. It offers a virtually fat-free dairy experience while providing essential nutrients such as protein, calcium, and various vitamins and minerals.
  • Lactose-Free Milk: Lactose is a type of natural sugar found in milk and broken down by the enzyme lactase in your body. It is precisely a disaccharide made up of glucose and galactose. Because certain people (those with lactose intolerance) do not generate any or enough lactase, some manufacturers add lactase to milk to break it down outside of the body.

Coconut Milk vs Cow’s Milk For Weight Loss

The choice between coconut and cow’s milk isn’t one-size-fits-all. Consider your dietary preferences, nutritional needs, and any specific health conditions.

Coconut milk offers potential benefits with its unique MCTs, while cow’s milk provides a balanced nutrient profile. The key is to make an informed choice that aligns with your weight loss goals and overall well-being.


1 FoodData Central. (n.d.). FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2340794/nutrients

2 Hewlings S. Coconuts and Health: Different Chain Lengths of Saturated Fats Require Different Consideration. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2020 Dec 17;7(4):59. doi: 10.3390/jcdd7040059. PMID: 33348586; PMCID: PMC7766932.

3 Medium-Chain Triglyceride – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Medium-Chain Triglyceride – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics. https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-12-227055-X/00973-1

4 Karunasiri AN, Gunawardane M, Senanayake CM, Jayathilaka N, Seneviratne KN. Antioxidant and Nutritional Properties of Domestic and Commercial Coconut Milk Preparations. Int J Food Sci. 2020 Aug 1;2020:3489605. doi: 10.1155/2020/3489605. PMID: 32832538; PMCID: PMC7422486.

5 Matsue M, Mori Y, Nagase S, Sugiyama Y, Hirano R, Ogai K, Ogura K, Kurihara S, Okamoto S. Measuring the Antimicrobial Activity of Lauric Acid against Various Bacteria in Human Gut Microbiota Using a New Method. Cell Transplant. 2019 Dec;28(12):1528-1541. doi: 10.1177/0963689719881366. Epub 2019 Oct 30. PMID: 31665909; PMCID: PMC6923562.

6 Lappano R, Sebastiani A, Cirillo F, Rigiracciolo DC, Galli GR, Curcio R, Malaguarnera R, Belfiore A, Cappello AR, Maggiolini M. The lauric acid-activated signaling prompts apoptosis in cancer cells. Cell Death Discov. 2017 Sep 18;3:17063. doi: 10.1038/cddiscovery.2017.63. PMID: 28924490; PMCID: PMC5601385.

7 Wang Y, Liu Z, Han Y, Xu J, Huang W, Li Z. Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. PLoS One. 2018 Feb 8;13(2):e0191182. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191182. PMID: 29420554; PMCID: PMC5805166.

8 Hauy BN, Oliani CHP, Fracaro GG, Barbalho SM, Guiguer ÉL, Souza MDSS, Mendes CG, Bueno MDS, Araújo AC, Bueno PCDS. Effects of Consumption of Coconut and Cow’s Milk on the Metabolic Profile of Wistar Rats Fed a Hyperprotein Diet. J Med Food. 2021 Feb;24(2):205-208. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2020.0031. Epub 2020 Jun 16. PMID: 32544020.

9 FoodData Central. (n.d.). FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/746778/nutrients

10 Vannucci L, Fossi C, Quattrini S, Guasti L, Pampaloni B, Gronchi G, Giusti F, Romagnoli C, Cianferotti L, Marcucci G, Brandi ML. Calcium Intake in Bone Health: A Focus on Calcium-Rich Mineral Waters. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 5;10(12):1930. doi: 10.3390/nu10121930. PMID: 30563174; PMCID: PMC6316542.

11 Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy–A Review. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 27;8(2):68. doi: 10.3390/nu8020068. PMID: 26828517; PMCID: PMC4772032.

12 Office of Dietary Supplements – Calcium. (2022, October 6). Calcium – Consumer. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/

13 Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. (2022, November 8). Vitamin D – Consumer. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/

14 Sabir MS, Haussler MR, Mallick S, Kaneko I, Lucas DA, Haussler CA, Whitfield GK, Jurutka PW. Optimal vitamin D spurs serotonin: 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D represses serotonin reuptake transport (SERT) and degradation (MAO-A) gene expression in cultured rat serotonergic neuronal cell lines. Genes Nutr. 2018 Jul 11;13:19. doi: 10.1186/s12263-018-0605-7. PMID: 30008960; PMCID: PMC6042449.

15 Menon V, Kar SK, Suthar N, Nebhinani N. Vitamin D and Depression: A Critical Appraisal of the Evidence and Future Directions. Indian J Psychol Med. 2020 Jan 6;42(1):11-21. doi: 10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_160_19. PMID: 31997861; PMCID: PMC6970300.

16 Lifschitz C, Szajewska H. Cow’s milk allergy: evidence-based diagnosis and management for the practitioner. Eur J Pediatr. 2015 Feb;174(2):141-50. doi: 10.1007/s00431-014-2422-3. Epub 2014 Sep 26. PMID: 25257836; PMCID: PMC4298661.

17 Høst A, Halken S, Jacobsen HP, Christensen AE, Herskind AM, Plesner K. Clinical course of cow’s milk protein allergy/intolerance and atopic diseases in childhood. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2002;13(s15):23-8. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3038.13.s.15.7.x. PMID: 12688620.

18 C. (n.d.). Lactose Intolerance. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7317-lactose-intolerance


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