Diet & Nutrition

How much milk should you actually be drinking?

Nutritionist and founder of The Brown Paper Bag, Jacqueline Alwill weighs in on the contentious subject of cow’s milk.

As a young child milk is pushed upon you as this ‘legendary liquid’ that will grow your bones strong and keep you in good physical health.

However, with a lot of debate around the chemicals, hormones and the dairy industry, along with the higher saturated fat and cholesterol content of milk – you’d be forgiven for getting confused.

Speaking to Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, Sydney-based nutritionist, PT and mum Jacqueline Alwill who founded The Brown Paper Bag, says that it’s important to remember that milk does have a lot of benefits.

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#1 Protein

“The number one would probably be it’s a great source of protein. So it has an incredible amino acid profile. Protein and amino acids are responsible for growth, development and repair in our body. People would think of protein with regard to muscle synthesis as well,” Alwill tells Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode Is milk actually good for our health?

#2 Satiating

“Because it has that great amino acid profile and delivers those proteins it can actually help to really satisfy your appetite, which is something you don’t necessarily get from things like a sugary juice or our refined sugar laden sodas,” she adds.

“You have a glass of milk or you have milk integrated into your smoothie or whatever else it is, and you feel satisfied. You’re not craving more of it.”

#3 Key nutrients

“It’s a great source of the key nutrients that can help reduce our risk of age related diseases like osteoporosis. So it’s a rich source of calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and vitamin K, vitamin D.”


#1 Allergies

”I think probably the number one [thing to watch out for] would be for those that are actually allergic to milk – but this is much more prevalent in young children and infants…We tend to outgrow those sorts of allergies. Adults can definitely have lactose intolerance, but that’s very different to a cow’s milk protein allergy. If that is happening for children and infants, you have to eliminate cow’s milk products from the diet.”

#2 Hormones

“People are very aware that there’s chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that go into non-organic raised cows. Being aware of that is important – some people deem that risky, others don’t. If it is something that you feel is too much of a risk for your family’s health, then look at the grass fed and organic options of milk.”

So you should get your two or three serves a day, right?

According to Alwill, you should still limit your milk intake to just one of these serves of dairy.

“The Australian dietary guidelines will recommend two to three serves of dairy in a day in order to support our intake. So that could look like a cup of milk, two slices of cheese and about three quarters to a cup of yoghurt,” she says.

“For those who don’t like cheese or yoghurt, they might think, I’ll just top up my dairy and calcium intake through milk and have a lot of milk. I actually don’t recommend that.”

“I think it’s better to then limit it [after one serve]. Go with your one cup of milk a day, max it there, and then look at those other dietary sources for your calcium and zinc and magnesium and how you’ll get those other nutrients in.”

Where else can you get these nutrients?

  1. Dark Leafy Greens
  2. Sesame and Tahini
  3. Broccoli
  4. Salmon
  5. Calcium fortified plant milk
  6. Dried figs
  7. Supplements: Jacqueline recommends the Healthy Care Super Calcium Complex.

Jacqueline Alwill is a nutritionist, author and founder of Brown Paper Nutrition. Follow her on Instagram.