Milk and Coffee: Full Cream Vs. Skim Milk

Nutrition // Glenys Zucco // 26 February 2016

Who doesn’t live for their morning coffee hit? If you’re like us, you’re dreaming about it before you go to sleep and it’s the spring in your step as you crawl out of bed. But coffee can get a bad rap and there’s lots of confusing information out there on how we should be drinking it, and how often. Glenys Zucco of Dairy Australia explains why coffee is good for us (hooray!) and how to enjoy it the right way.

Australians are self-proclaimed coffee connoisseurs – some may say snobs. We have a bean of choice and want a say in how they’re roasted, ground or brewed. But for a nation so picky about its caffeine hit, we can get confused about how, and how often, we can enjoy it as part of a balanced diet. My general rule for diet choices is to opt for whole foods, as close to nature as possible.. I take the same approach to coffee and enjoy it guilt free, every day.

The Benefits of Coffee

Coffee has many proven benefits. It tastes delicious, helps to increase alertness and provides a much needed boost of energy to take on the day ahead.

But did you know it also helps us to live longer? Both men and women who enjoy two to three cups of coffee a day have, on average, a longer life span than those who don’t[1]. Coffee drinkers also have a reduced risk of developing certain types of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and even certain types of cancer[1].

How to Drink Coffee

This is the stuff of long heated debates. Black, white, skim, full cream single-origin, fair trade, foam, no foam….I could go on.

While it’s different strokes for different folks, the way you choose to take your coffee can have a big impact on the types of nutrients you receive and how many calories you’re consuming. This can impact your weight loss and muscle building goals.

When choosing your cup of choice, ask yourself these three questions:

  • How nutrient-dense is it? What kind of bang for my buck am I getting when it comes to essential nutrients?
  • How many calories is it providing and how does it fit into my daily meal plan?
  • How is my coffee supporting my training and how might it be sabotaging my weight loss goals?


Cows’ milk is the front-runner in this category as it naturally provides eight essential nutrients, with just one simple ingredient – milk! In addition to calcium, milk is the biggest source of vitamin B12, iodine, riboflavin, phosphorus and potassium in the Australian diet. All varieties of cows’ milk contain the same package of essential nutrients[2].

Alternatives such as almond, soy, oat and rice milk don’t naturally have these important nutrients. These milk alternatives do not deliver the same proven health benefits and while nuts and vegetables are packed with other important nutrients, it’s difficult to rely on them to meet your calcium needs. Most plant foods don’t contain much calcium, and those that do often contain other substances that can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb it efficiently.

If coffee is part of your daily routine, it’s an important time to make sure you’re getting the most from it nutritionally. Plus, with most Australian women not getting enough calcium, choosing a calcium-rich option like milk is also a good way to get closer to your target.


While calories per coffee can vary, a latte made with just coffee and milk (with no milk alternatives or additives) provides roughly 85 calories for skim varieties and about 150 calories for full cream. This means that there’s flexibility to fit either into your daily calorie allowance as a snack.

It’s when we look at the larger style hot or cold drinks with added sweeteners, flavoured syrups or other extras that the calories can quickly sky rocket – many varieties at popular chains serve up more than 250 calories, some as much as 440 calories for the worst offenders!

It’s also important to consider what you’re eating with coffee and how that fits into your plan – a café muffin or biscuit can quickly overtake the coffee in terms of calories so while coffee itself can certainly be enjoyed guilt free, this is not permission to indulge in sugary muffins or pastries each morning!

Your training goals

As well as giving you the energy you need to get through your day and workout, it’s important your choice of coffee also promotes your weight goals. I’ve previously blogged about how dairy milk can enhance weight loss. This evidence applies to all varieties of cows’ milk from full cream t to skim.

Cows’ milk is also a source of high quality protein, a nutrient that is well known for its role in assisting weight loss, and helping you feel fuller for longer, so feel free to enjoy it in your morning coffee, or any time of day.


[1] Ding, M, et. al., 2015, Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts. Circulation.

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014, Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12, ‘Table 10: Proportion of Nutrients from food groups’, data cube: Excel spreadsheet, cat. no. 4364.0.55.007



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