The dairy industry has long gotten away with some of the most dishonest and confusing labeling practices in the entire food industry. All milk, and any product made from milk (cheese, yogurt, sour cream, kefir etc…), labels the fat percentage according to the weight of the fat in the milk, a misleading statistic in a water based food.
2% low-fat milk means that 2% of the weight of the milk is from fat, this is the equivalent of labeling a can of Coke as 9% sugar! A full 12 oz can of Coke weighs 390 grams, the 35 grams of sugar in the coke account for 9% of the weight and 100% of the calories. Can you imagine the outrage if the beverage industry started labeling sugar the way the diary industry labels fat? Why even diabetics could drink 9% sugar sodas….
Let’s go back to the low fat milk. A 12 oz bottle of 2% milk is 170 calories, the 6.7 grams of fat in it contribute 60 calories, or 35% of the calories of the milk, nowhere near the 2% that many people assume from the label. That places 2% milk at a pretty high fat level, higher even then many of the leaner meat products. For instance, skinless chicken breast derives about 23% of its calories from fat. Whole milk, by comparison is labeled 5% fat (again, the weight of the fat in milk). A 12 oz bottle of whole milk has 205 calories and derives about 48% of its calories from fat, roughly the same as lean steak. Non-fat milk has 120 calories in a 12 oz bottle.
The difference between non-fat and low-fat dairy products is far larger than most people assume. If you want to maximize weight loss choose fat-free/non-fat. Fortunately the quality and taste of fat-free dairy products has improved considerably over the past few years. Much of the improvement in flavor comes from the use of safe and natural plant extracts that give a similar mouth feel as real fat. The two most common are Carrageenan (from seaweed) and locust bean gum (from the Carob plant).