As an athlete, you know you need to drink plenty of fluids while you’re working out and throughout the day. Water should be a big part of your fluid intake. But another good option is milk, which also gives you nutrients that help you succeed as an athlete. There are many types of milk and plant-based alternatives to choose from, so pick yours carefully.

Cow’s Milk Versus Plant-Based Alternatives

Although there are a wide variety of choices in the dairy case at the grocery store,  none deliver the amount of essential nutrients found in cow’s (dairy) milk. Cow’s milk gives you the biggest nutrition boost. It’s also the least costly. This chart compares calories, some nutrients, and the cost of 8-ounces of a variety of milk and plant-based alternatives.

 

Milk or Plant -Based AlternativesCaloriesFat (grams)Protein (grams)Calcium (milligrams)Potassium (milligrams)Cost*
Cow (Dairy) Milk80–1400–88300366$0.26
Almond30–902.51450160$0.50
Banana60310350$1.20
Cashew60–1302.5–10<1–445025$1.50
Coconut45–804.5045040$0.57
Flaxseed502.503000$1.12
Hazelnut1103.5230075$0.69
Hemp70–14053300–500100$0.86
Macadamia50514500$0.99
Oat1302.54350120$0.64
Pea704.58450450$0.66
Peanut15011624200$1.50
Quinoa704.5230077$0.86
Rice1202.5130065$0.66
Soy60–1101.4–4.58450150$0.50

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.

*Cost analysis is based on current average price found at popular grocery chains. Prices may vary.

Bottom line: Dairy milk gets you the highest score for your pour.