When it comes to achieving your weight loss goals, dietary choices play a crucial role, and selecting the right substitutes can make a significant difference.
Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle often involves exploring plant-based milk options in place of traditional dairy products. Two popular options in this category are coconut milk and soy milk. Both have gained widespread popularity due to their unique flavors and nutritional profiles, but they also have distinct characteristics that can impact weight loss efforts.
In this comparison, we will delve into the benefits and drawbacks of coconut milk vs soy milk for weight loss, exploring their calorie content, nutritional composition, and potential effects on weight management. By the end of this analysis, you will be better equipped to make an informed choice between these two dairy-free alternatives, considering your weight loss objectives and dietary preferences.
What Is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is crafted from a blend of filtered water and coconut cream, a substance derived from grated mature coconut flesh. Despite its name, it’s important to note that coconuts are not true nuts, making coconut milk generally safe for individuals with nut allergies1.
To be more precise, coconut milk is often referred to as “coconut milk beverage” since it is a more diluted product compared to the thicker coconut milk typically found in cans for culinary purposes2.
As with numerous other plant-based milk alternatives, commercial coconut milk often includes additional ingredients, including thickeners.
In terms of its nutritional profile, coconut milk stands out with a higher fat content compared to other milk substitutes. In each 100g of unsweetened coconut milk beverage, you can expect approximately:
- Around 150 calories
- Approximately 2 grams of carbohydrates
- About 15 grams of fat
- 2 grams of protein
Notably, coconut milk beverage does not naturally contain calcium, vitamin A, or vitamin D, but these essential nutrients can be added through fortification3,4.
Advantages of Coconut Milk
- Coconut milk is generally suitable for individuals with nut allergies.
- It can be enriched to provide ample amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
Drawbacks of Coconut Milk
- It falls short as a substantial source of protein.
- Some varieties may include carrageenan, which has the potential to induce digestive problems in certain individuals.
What Is Soy Milk?
Soy milk is produced by blending soybeans with filtered water. Similar to coconut milk and other plant-based milk substitutes, it may incorporate thickeners to enhance its texture and extend its shelf life.
A 100g of unsweetened soy milk typically contains:
- Approximately 30 calories (although sweetened varieties can have more)
- About 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrates
- Roughly 2 to 3 grams of fat
- Approximately 4 grams of protein
Given its plant-based origin, soy milk is naturally devoid of cholesterol and boasts low levels of saturated fat. Furthermore, it does not contain lactose.
Soybeans and the resulting soy milk serve as excellent sources of protein and can provide calcium (if fortified) and potassium, contributing to a well-rounded nutritional profile3,5.
Advantages of Soy Milk
- Soy milk serves as a rich source of potassium and can be enriched with essential vitamins like A, B-12, and D, as well as calcium.
- It boasts a protein content comparable to that of cow’s milk while maintaining lower calorie levels than whole milk and approximately equivalent calories to 1% or 2% milk.
- Soy milk contains minimal saturated fat.
Disadvantages of Soy Milk
- Soy is a prevalent allergen, affecting both adults and children.
- A significant portion of soy production in the United States is derived from genetically modified plants, which raises concerns for some consumers.
Nutrition And Calories
In this segment, we will examine the commonalities and disparities between coconut milk and soy milk by assessing the nutritional data sourced from the USDA.
Plant-based milk alternatives are primarily composed of water, and this holds true for both coconut milk and soy milk.
In a 3.5 oz or 100 g serving of coconut milk, you’ll find approximately 150 calories, with fat being the predominant component at 15 g, followed by protein at 1.25 g, and carbs at 1.25 g as per mentioned above4.
In the case of soy milk nutrition, the same quantity contains about 38 calories, with protein being the primary constituent at 3.55 g, followed by fat at 2.12 g, and carbs at 1.29 g5.
The information below provides a comparative breakdown of the nutritional content for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of coconut milk in contrast to an equal amount of soy milk.
Dietary fiber plays a crucial role in maintaining your well-being by promoting satiety, preventing constipation, stabilizing blood sugar levels, reducing sugar spikes, lowering both total and LDL cholesterol, and delivering a range of other advantages6.
In terms of dietary fiber content, soy milk emerges as the superior option. A 3.5oz (100g) serving of soy milk contains 0.45 grams of dietary fiber, whereas coconut milk contains none, making it comparatively lower in this essential nutrient.
|Coconut Milk||Soy Milk|
|Energy||150 kcal||38 kcal|
|Total Fat||15 g||2.12 g|
|Carbs||1.25 g||1.29 g|
|Fiber||0 g||0.45 g|
|Sugars||1.25 g||0.56 g|
|Protein||1.25 g||3.55 g|
Coconut Milk vs Soy Milk For Weight Loss
Finding the ideal method for shedding excess weight is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Aside from the type of milk you choose, various other elements can influence your capacity to achieve weight loss.
These factors encompass your overall dietary habits, genetic makeup, lifestyle choices, physical activity routines, and more. Nevertheless, certain milk substitutes can contribute to weight loss due to their nutritional composition.
The presence of saturated fats, such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and specific fatty acids in coconut milk can aid in reducing body weight, promoting a sense of fullness, and improving insulin sensitivity to facilitate weight loss. Additionally, it boasts a lower sodium content. However, it is important to exercise caution due to its potential richness in both fats and carbohydrates; therefore, it is advisable to restrict your consumption7,8.
Soy milk offers a more well-rounded nutritional profile. Typically, it contains lower sugar levels and reduced calorie content. It excludes excess saturated fats and cholesterol while often providing essential fatty acids and vitamins. Its elevated protein content not only helps curb your appetite but also supports a healthy metabolism9.
Which Plant-Based Milk Substitute Reigns Supreme?
Keep in mind that the impact of various milk types varies from person to person. It’s essential to initially assess your personal preferences, dietary tolerances, and weight management objectives. This evaluation will help you make informed choices regarding dairy or non-dairy products that align with your daily meal plan.
Furthermore, practicing moderation is crucial. Be mindful of adhering to recommended serving sizes for milk and milk alternatives. Take the time to understand the nutritional offerings of each item, as they can contribute to your journey towards improved health.
To embark on a safe and effective weight loss journey, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider, discussing your health goals and the best approaches. If you have any further inquiries concerning milk and milk alternatives, a registered dietitian can provide valuable insights and answers.
In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between coconut and soy milk for weight loss, it’s crucial to consider the specific attributes of each option in line with your dietary preferences and objectives.
Coconut milk, with its rich flavor and potential benefits from MCTs, can be a satisfying addition to your diet. However, its calorie density and lower protein content mean that moderation is key to avoid excessive calorie intake.
On the other hand, soy milk emerges as a strong contender for weight loss due to its balanced nutritional profile. It provides adequate protein, fewer calories, and can be fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. These qualities can aid in promoting satiety and supporting overall health during a weight loss journey.
Ultimately, the choice between coconut milk and soy milk depends on your personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and nutritional priorities. Both can have their place in a well-balanced diet, and incorporating them wisely can contribute to successful weight management.
However, it’s essential to remember that, in the pursuit of weight loss, the overall quality of your diet, portion control, exercise, and other lifestyle factors play equally significant roles alongside your milk alternative selection.
7 Ekanayaka, R. A., Ekanayaka, N. K., Perera, B., & De Silva, P. G. (2013). Impact of a traditional dietary supplement with coconut milk and soya milk on the lipid profile in normal free living subjects. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2013, 481068. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/481068
8 Hewlings S. (2020). Coconuts and Health: Different Chain Lengths of Saturated Fats Require Different Consideration. Journal of cardiovascular development and disease, 7(4), 59. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcdd7040059
9 Shoup, M. (2018, February 1). Researchers say soy offers ‘most balanced nutritional profile’ compared to other dairy alternatives. https://www.dairyreporter.com/Article/2018/02/01/Researchers-say-soy-offers-most-balanced-nutritional-profile-compared-to-other-dairy-alternatives