High-Protein Milk: The Complete Guide

The protein content of cow, soy, pea, and nut milk typically ranges from 0-8 grams per cup. With consumers looking for high-protein milk options, companies have attempted to meet the need by either altering the manufacturing process or fortifying with protein powder.

In the case of high-protein cow’s milk, brands like Fairlife, Lactaid, and H.E.B. (a grocery chain in Texas and northeast Mexico) use a process called ultra-filtration to remove some of the naturally present carbohydrates (in the form of lactose) and create a product more concentrated in protein.

With plant-based milk, pea protein is often added, as you’ll notice with brands like Silk, Good Karma, Califia Farms, Ripple, and Shroom Junkie.

Protein content of common milk types

Here is the protein content of the most common types of milk:

  • Cow’s milk: 8 g
  • Soy milk: 6 g
  • Oat milk: 3-4 g
  • Hemp milk: 2-4 g
  • Flax milk: 3 g
  • Almond milk: 0-2 g
  • Cashew milk: 0-1 g
  • Coconut milk: 0-1 g
  • Rice milk: 0-1 g

High-protein milk products

The table below shows the most popular milk products that are formulated to contain at least 6 grams of protein per cup.

Since cow’s milk starts with a base of 8 grams of protein per cup, the ultra-filtered milk remains at the top of the list with 13 grams of protein per cup (they are also all lactose-free due to the addition of the lactase enzyme).

The plant-based milk products range from 6-10 grams of protein per cup.

ProductProtein SourceVariationsGrams of Protein per Cup
Fairlife Ultra-Filtered MilkCow’s MilkWhole, Plain 2%, Chocolate 2%, Strawberry 2%, Fat-Free13 g
H.E.B. Mootopia Lactose-Free MilkCow’s MilkWhole, Plain 2%, Chocolate 2%, Vanilla 2%, Fat-Free13 g
Lactaid Lactose-Free High-Protein MilkCow’s MilkWhole, Plain 2%13 g
Silk Protein NutmilkAlmondmilk, Cashew Milk, Pea ProteinOriginal Sweetened, Chocolate10 g
Shroom Junkie Original PlantmilkPea Protein (Fermented by Shitake Mushroom Mycelia)Sweetened10 g
Good Karma Flaxmilk + ProteinFlaxmilk, Pea ProteinUnsweetened8 g
Califia Farms Protein OatmilkOat Milk, Pea ProteinUnsweetened8 g
Ripple Plant-Based MilkPea ProteinSweetened & Unsweetened: Original, Vanilla
Sweetened: Chocolate
8 g
Ripple Oatmilk + ProteinOat Milk, Pea ProteinUnsweetened6 g

*Of note, Silk Ultra, Organic Valley Ultra, and Horizon Organic High Protein Milk are no longer sold, so they were not included on this list.

Nutrient profile of common milk types

Protein profile

You may be curious if your favorite milk is a complete or incomplete protein. A complete protein contains all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs), while an incomplete protein is missing the proper amount of at least one EAA.

Cow, goat, sheep, camel, and soy milk all contain a high enough amount of all 9 EAAs to be considered complete protein sources. All other plant-based milk is low in at least 1 EAA, making them incomplete proteins.

Micronutrient profile

The most prominent vitamins and minerals in cow’s milk include vitamin A, B vitamins (B2, B5, B12), vitamin D (if fortified), calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Other than soy milk (which has a similar nutrient profile to cow’s milk), plant-based milk is typically low in most vitamins and minerals.

Many brands of plant-based milk fortify their products with the vitamins and minerals present in cow’s milk, though some choose not to. You can read the ingredients list and nutrition facts label for individual products to see what has been added.

Check these articles out for more information on the nutrient profiles of hemp and whey protein, pea and soy protein, tofu, and other plant-based proteins.

Benefits of a high-protein diet

Most people require around 1 g/kg (or 0.45 g/lb) body weight (BW) of protein. However, people who are physically active, healing from an illness or injury, pregnant, or older than 65 years will benefit from consuming 20-30% of their total calories from protein, which may be up to 2 g/kg (0.9 g/lb) BW or greater. (1,2,3)

Protein is essential for:

  • Building and repairing damaged tissues, like bone, muscle, skin, cartilage, and blood
  • Creating body chemicals, hormones, and enzymes

Other benefits of protein:

  • Weight loss and management
  • Improved bone health
  • Lowered risk of type 2 diabetes

How to make your own high-protein milk

DIY high-protein milk:

  • You can mix dry milk powder, pea protein, casein protein, whey protein, collagen peptides, or other protein powders into your favorite type of milk
  • It may be best to blend it with a traditional blender, milk frother, or immersion blender to avoid clumps

Uses of high-protein milk:

  • You can add it to oats, coffee, smoothies, muffins, pancakes, waffles, bread, mac & cheese, French toast, pudding, and soups, or simply enjoy it on its own
  • View our high-protein vegan snack round-up for recipe ideas

Final thoughts

High-protein milk is filling a gap in the market, especially for consumers who prefer plant-based or lactose-free milk. With so many options available, you can easily boost the protein in your usual recipes and beverages with no extra effort, or you can add various protein powders or dry milk powder for a DIY option.

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Photo of Collette Sinnott, RD, LD

Collette is a registered dietitian and has over a decade of experience working with athletes, children & adults on tube feeding, and people with chronic health conditions. She has been writing about food and nutrition since she was in high school and has a passion for sharing evidence-based information, especially on the topics of protein and the importance of maintaining muscle mass for healthy aging.

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