Why soy beats almond milk

And how it stacks up to other plant-based alternatives.

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For a new study, researchers at McGill University compared the nutritional profiles of unsweetened versions of the four most commonly consumed plant-based milks (almond, soy, rice, and coconut). After cow’s milk, which they found to be a wholesome, complete food, soy milk was deemed the most nutritiously balanced in terms of protein, fat, and carbs.


“When we are talking about almond milk in the market, the actual almond content within the beverage can vary widely,” says study author Sai Kranthi Kumar Vanga, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University’s department of bioresource engineering. Although whole almonds are rich in protein and fat, low-calorie almond milk contains little of either nutrient. Soy milk, however, has a good mix of fat, protein, and carbs (4.5 grams, 8 grams, and 11.5 grams respectively for an average 240 milliliter serving) compared to almond milk (which has 2.5 grams fat, 1 gram protein, and 1 gram carbohydrates).

As for the other milks, they don’t supply balanced nutrition on their own, points out Vanga. Coconut milk contains no protein, which is why it’s best to mix it with something like chia seeds, and rice milk is high in carbs with barely any fat or protein.

For athletes who want to stick with plant-based milk, Vanga advises opting for soy. But if you prefer the taste of another option, it’s important to make sure you are getting protein from other sources such as lean meats, beans, and eggs, he adds.