At one time, milk was the OG healthy beverage. With protein, calcium, and vitamin D, it was considered an essential part of a balanced diet. Dairy milk is packed with nutrients, but its production is also a source of greenhouse gasses, according to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Many people have sensitivities to lactose, the sugar in cow’s milk, as well. In the United States, more than one-third of adults have difficulty digesting lactose, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. As demand for dairy-free alternatives grew, the market expanded beyond soy. Today you can even find “milk” made from pea protein potatoes on grocery store shelves!
Even though Americans are drinking less than ever — consumption of cow’s milk fell by 42 percent over the past fifty years, according to CBS News — it is still one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the United States. The average American family drinks about 19 gallons of milk each year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)data.
And research has found that there are plenty of good reasons to enjoy a glass. A review of 41 meta-analyses published in January 2021 in Nutrition & Metabolism found that the benefits of drinking milk outweigh the risks. The review found that drinking more milk may increase the risk of acne, Parkinson’s disease, and prostate cancer, however, it may also decrease the risk of obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, and metabolic syndrome. But while drinking it may be good for your bones and other reasons, how much does this dairy beverage help meet your hydration needs?
Being well-hydrated plays a huge role in overall health. It helps in regulating body temperature, sleep, brain function, and even mood, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). TheNational Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine advises that women get about 2.7 liters (L) of fluid per day and men get about 3.7 L per day. About 20 percent of those amounts comes from the foods you eat, which means women should aim to drink about 2.2 L (nine 8-ounce cups) of water per day, and men should aim for 3.0 L (13 8-ounce cups). Of course, a number of factors affect fluid needs including activity level, life stage, and diet. For a more personalized recommendation, use a hydration calculator.
If reaching those daily fluid goals seems daunting, it may help you to know that, while water is generally the best source, other beverages, including milk, can also help. But just how much? Read on to find out.
Water vs. Milk: How Do They Compare?
Water is the “gold standard” when it comes to hydration, but milk isn’t far behind. Milk is about 90 percent water by weight, according to data from the USDA, which means you’ll be getting plenty of hydration when enjoying a glass. And unlike water, cow’s milk also contains valuable nutrients your body needs, including protein and vitamins A and D. Plus, milk is a source of electrolytes calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. All of these nutrients can make dairy milk part of a healthy diet. Areview published in October 2018 in European Journal of Sport Science suggested that it may be a great post-workout beverage for muscle recovery. The type of protein in milk has also been linked to increased satiety (the feeling of fullness) and may help you eat less and lower blood sugar levels, according to past research.
Nutrition Facts of Milk
According to the USDA, 1 cup of low-fat (1 percent) dairy milk provides 106 calories, 8 grams (g) protein, 2 g fat, 13 g carbohydrates (mostly from natural sugars), 310 milligrams (mg) of calcium, 253 mg phosphorus, 391 mg potassium, 96 mg sodium, 143 micrograms (mcg) vitamin A, and 2.6 mcg vitamin D.
Dairy-free milk alternatives vary greatly in their nutritional profiles, so it’s important to read the nutrition facts and ingredients list and look for an option that meets your dietary needs. Since dairy milk provides calcium and vitamins A and D, it is best to look for an alternative that provides similar amounts of these nutrients. While all dairy and dairy-free milks will count toward your hydration goals for the day, if you do opt for a dairy alternative, be sure to read the nutrition facts label carefully as you’ll want it to be replacing as many of the nutrients in cow’s milk as possible. The alternative milk sector is rapidly expanding and new products are available all of the time. While many of the alternatives are lower in calories than milk, many also lack the valuable nutrients that dairy milk offers such as calcium and vitamin D. If you choose a dairy-free option, be sure to replace these important nutrients in your diet through other foods.
What About Milk Makes It Hydrating?
Milk’s high percentage of water makes it a natural hydrator. The electrolytes milk contains — mainly sodium, potassium, and magnesium — also contribute to fluid balance in the body according to the Cleveland Clinic. All in all, milk is an excellent source of both hydration and nutrition!
Milk vs. Soy Milk: Which Is More Hydrating?
Soy milk is a common substitute for dairy milk and it’s only natural to wonder how they compare when it comes to hydration and nutrition. In order to limit the amount of sugar you’ll get, it’s important to choose an unsweetened soy milk. Per 1-cup serving of plain, unsweetened soy milk, you can expect to get about 80 calories, 7 g protein, 4 g fat, 3 g carbohydrates, 300 mg calcium (making it an excellent source), and 3 mcg vitamin D (making it a good source). In other words, soy milk is nutritionally comparable to cow’s milk. According to data from the USDA, it’s also 92 percent water by weight, making it an excellent hydrator. Like milk, soy milk contains calories and protein (in contrast to a beverage like water), so it will be satiating (helping you to feel full) while also offering a healthy dose of calcium and vitamin D.
Types of Milk: How Hydrating Are They?
The biggest factor in how hydrating a glass of milk will be is the percentage of water that it contains. While the protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and mineral levels are almost exactly the same across all types of dairy milk, as the fat percent decreases, the amount of water that the milk contains increases. As a result, you’ll find that skim milk is the most hydrating and whole milk is least hydrating. Here are the percentages of water that you can expect from each type of milk according to the USDA:
- Skim or nonfat milk: 90 percent
- Lowfat (1 percent) Milk: 89.7 percent
- Reduced-fat (2 percent) milk: 89.1 percent
- Whole milk: 88.1 percent
When it comes to diary-free “milk,” there is no shortage of options available. You will find most alternative milk options fall around the same range as dairy milk in terms of percent water content. Oat milk, for instance, contains 90.6 percent water by weight according to the USDA.
Health Benefits of Milk Beyond Hydration
Beyond hydration, milk offers myriad health benefits. For example, 1 cup of milk is a good source of protein, vitamin A, and vitamin D and an excellent source of calcium, and phosphorus. As the National Institutes of Health (NIH)point out, calcium is essential in the building of strong bones and teeth and milk is one of the most concentrated sources of this important nutrient.
Tips for Enjoying Milk to Maximize the Perks
Whether you enjoy dairy or dairy-free milk, the No 1. key to maximizing the nutritional benefits is to choose wisely. Read the nutrition facts label and ingredients list to choose the best fit for your nutritional goals. While all milks (dairy and dairy-free) will offer approximately the same hydration benefits, they can vary greatly in the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they offer. For best results, choose a milk variety that does not have any added sugar as the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars as much as possible.
Should You Drink Milk to Stay Hydrated?
Dairy milk can absolutely be a nutritious part of any hydration and healthy diet plan. It’s important to note, however, that given its calorie content and high satiety, it should not be used to replace water by any means. You couldn’t drink enough milk in a day to stay appropriately hydrated, but it can be a nutritious way to work toward your overall hydration goal. If you choose not to drink dairy milk because of an intolerance, allergy, or for environmental reasons, be sure to choose a nondairy alternative that offers the vital nutrients your body needs especially calcium and vitamin D — both of which are crucial for bone health at every age according to the NIH.
Does Milk Count as Fluid? ›
To meet your fluid needs throughout the day, choose water most often. Remember that other fluids like milk, coffee, tea and juice also count towards your daily fluid intake.Is milk a good source of fluid? ›
Milk's high percentage of water makes it a natural hydrator. The electrolytes milk contains — mainly sodium, potassium, and magnesium — also contribute to fluid balance in the body according to the Cleveland Clinic. All in all, milk is an excellent source of both hydration and nutrition!Can I drink milk instead of water for hydration? ›
"Milk is about 90 percent water, meaning it can be a good source of hydration, especially in the summer months where people are more at risk for dehydration," confirms clinical dietitian Patricia Kolesa, R.D.What counts as fluid intake? ›
Fluids are all foods and drinks that are liquid at room temperature. All drinks, Jello, ice cream, sherbet, popsicles, water ice, ice cubes, soup, custard, pudding, sauces and gravies count as fluids. Why should I limit my fluids each day? It can help you avoid shortness of breath or swelling in your hands and feet.Is milk good for fluid replacement? ›
Research shows that milk is one of the best beverages for hydration, even better than water or sports drinks. Researchers credit milk's natural electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein for its effectiveness.Is milk a food or fluid? ›
Milk is a white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals (including breastfed human infants) before they are able to digest solid food.What are 3 warning signs of dehydration? ›
- feeling thirsty and lightheaded.
- a dry mouth.
- having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine.
- passing urine less often than usual.
The fastest way to hydrate is with an oral rehydration solution. These products are packed with electrolytes which are minerals found in your body that balance fluid levels and maintain optimal hydration. While you can hydrate fast with regular water, focus on electrolytes.Is milk more hydrating than Gatorade? ›
Milk has a similar electrolyte content and carbohydrate concentration to commercial sports drinks. The evidence mostly suggests that it is more effective at rehydrating people after vigorous exercise than well-known recovery beverages.What can I drink instead of water? ›
- Water with an effervescent tablet. ...
- Fruit-infused water or soda water. ...
- Coconut water. ...
- Iced fresh fruit juice. ...
- Kombucha. ...
- Unsweetened iced tea. ...
- Virgin cocktails. ...
- Homemade smoothies.
What can I drink to hydrate besides water? ›
- Tea. Tea has the same hydration effect as water and is overloaded with antioxidants to help your body get rid of toxins. ...
- Fruits juice. ...
- Vegetables juice. ...
- Sparkling water. ...
- Infused water.
- Start your day with oatmeal. This one is a classic. ...
- Include more moo. ...
- Try carb alternatives. ...
- Sip smoothies. ...
- Pack your plate with vegetables. ...
- Slurp soup. ...
- Freeze your fruit.
A metered intake of milk after exercise and thermal dehydration restores whole-body net fluid balance better than carbohydrate–electrolyte sports drinks or water, according to an Irish study.Does chugging water hydrate you? ›
Chugging large quantities of water isn't hydrating you any more than if you sip it slowly. It can seem like you're being proactive by gulping down a large amount of water before beginning some extraneous exercise.Does applesauce count as fluid intake? ›
In fact, both apple juice and applesauce contain about 88% water! A 4 oz (1/2 cup or 125 mL) portion of either provides about 3½ oz (110 mL) of water.Does milk count as food when taking medicine? ›
Calcium which is found in milk will bind drugs or antibiotics that prevent absorption into the body. In addition, there is a good drug consumed before and after meals. This is because the food you eat can affect drug absorption.Is yogurt considered a fluid? ›
In addition to beverages, many foods provide fluids. Examples include ice cream, yogurt, gelatin, pudding, soups, sauces, and juicy fruits.How long does it take to get rehydrated? ›
In general, however, it usually takes about two hours for your body to rehydrate fully after drinking a significant amount of water. As for how you should rehydrate, water is the best choice. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, can be helpful for athletes who need to replenish electrolytes.Is Gatorade good for dehydration? ›
Pedialyte and Gatorade are both designed to prevent or treat dehydration. In fact, thanks to their electrolyte content, they're more effective than water at rehydrating.How much water does it take to rehydrate? ›
During work or exercise in the heat: • Drink 8-12 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. Drinking more than 1.5 liters per hour is not recommended and may increase the risk for developing hyponatremia (low sodium).
Do electrolytes hydrate you faster than water? ›
Drinking beverages that contain electrolytes can both rehydrate you quicker than plain water and it can keep you feeling hydrated longer than plain water.Does Pedialyte help hydrate you? ›
For more than 50 years, Pedialyte has helped people of all ages replace both the fluids and electrolytes they've lost due to challenging moments of dehydration. Backed by advanced science, Pedialyte contains an optimal balance of sugar and electrolytes for fast rehydration.Is Gatorade more hydrating than water? ›
It hydrates you
This myth comes from a study funded by Gatorade that found people who drank their product were better hydrated than if they drank water—but only because they drank more fluids. If you drank the same volume of water versus Gatorade, you'd be equally hydrated.
Pedialyte and Gatorade are more hydrating than water because they include electrolytes that prevent and treat dehydration.What is the best liquid to stay hydrated? ›
Water is your best bet for everyday hydration, since it is free of sugar, calories, and caffeine. All of your daily food and beverages contribute to your daily fluid needs.Does a glass of milk hydrate you? ›
For example, milk was found to be even more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, some protein and some fat, all of which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach and keep hydration happening over a longer period.What milk is most hydrating? ›
Skim milk — which has a little fat, some protein, the sugar lactose and some sodium— did the best job of hydrating the participants. The sodium in milk "acts like a sponge and holds onto water in the body and results in less urine produced," CNN wrote.Does coffee count as water intake? ›
Here is one more reason to enjoy that morning cup of joe: “Coffee counts toward your daily water intake,” says Lauren DeWolf, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers. The water in coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages helps us meet our daily fluid needs.What is the healthiest drink in the world? ›
Green tea is generally considered the healthiest beverage globally due to its high levels of nutrients and antioxidants that fight off diseases and keep your organ functioning at its optimum level.Is Crystal Light a good substitute for water? ›
Crystal Light isn't the worst offender when it comes to beverages, but it's not exactly a health food either. Your best option for hydration is plain or naturally flavored water, leaving Crystal Light as an occasional option.
What is the most natural hydrating drink? ›
- Bone broth. While you can buy a carton at the store, bone broth is healthier (and cheaper) when you make it yourself. ...
- Coconut water. ...
- Smoothies with avocados or bananas. ...
- Lemon and/or Lime enhanced water. ...
- Plantain powder drink. ...
- Green drinks. ...
- Celery Juice. ...
- Beetroot drinks.
You might have an electrolyte imbalance: Electrolyte imbalances are one of the most common reasons you might feel dehydrated even after drinking tons of water: “Sometimes if we drink a lot of water but we don't take in enough fruits and vegetables, our electrolytes—sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, etc.How long can a hydrated person go without water? ›
The body needs lots of water to carry out many essential functions, such as balancing the internal temperature and keeping cells alive. As a general rule of thumb, a person can survive without water for about 3 days.Is Coke good for dehydration? ›
Soda isn't the best choice for dehydration. However, that doesn't mean you need to give up your favorite soft drinks forever. It just means you should reach for better hydrating options when you can.Is Jello good for hydration? ›
Jell-O is one of the easiest treats to whip up thanks to the fact that you just add water, and that makes it a surprisingly hydrating dessert, as well. Opt for the sugar-free kind to keep calories down.What drink is best for hydration? ›
Water is your best bet for everyday hydration, since it is free of sugar, calories, and caffeine. All of your daily food and beverages contribute to your daily fluid needs.What food are a good source of fluid? ›
- Cucumber. Because it is 95% water, one serving of cucumber has only 8 calories. ...
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes are a rich source of water as one cup of sliced raw tomato contains 170.14 g of water.
- Watercress. ...
- Apples. ...
- Celery. ...
- Lettuce. ...
- Watermelon. ...
For example, milk was found to be even more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, some protein and some fat, all of which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach and keep hydration happening over a longer period.Does Gatorade actually hydrate you? ›
Gatorade, because of its electrolyte content, helps to restore the lost electrolytes and keep a person hydrated, during intense activity. It can also replace electrolytes, during times of illness, such as stomach viruses.What type of milk is best for hydration? ›
When it comes to hydration, skim milk appears to be slightly more hydrating than full fat milk, which may have to do with its reduced fat content ( 10 ). Therefore, for those looking to reap the hydration benefits of cow's milk while also cutting down on calories, skim milk may be a better option.
How well does milk hydrate you? ›
After drinking milk, the study volunteers produced less urine (and therefore retained more fluid) than with water or a sports drink (Powerade). Therefore, milk was considered to provide better hydration.What happens if I don't drink enough water? ›
Water also contributes to regular bowel function, optimal muscle performance, and clear, youthful-looking skin. However, failing to drink enough water can cause dehydration and adverse symptoms, including fatigue, headache, weakened immunity, and dry skin.What increases body fluid? ›
Drink a water-based beverage (water, juice or milk) with every meal and snack — between 8 and 16 oz. You should drink a minimum of 8–10 cups per day, but aim for 10–12 cups if you are more active. (1 cup = 8 oz.) Consume fluids before you are thirsty.