Almond milk is a dairy-free beverage that can be used in recipes and as a drink for those who are lactose intolerant. Unlike cow's milk, almond milk does not contain lactase, a sugar that some people cannot digest properly. Although almond milk differs from cow's milk in a number of significant ways, it does provide nutritional benefits similar to those offered by traditional dairy milk. Be sure to check product labels when available, however, as nutrition facts may vary between brands.
Almond milk can be beneficial if you are dieting, because it is low in calories; each cup contains 40 calories, compared to 90 calories in skim milk and 150 calories in whole milk. Almond milk is also low in carbohydrates, with just 2 g per cup. According to the February issue of the journal "Archives of Internal Medicine," research suggests that low-carbohydrate diets can promote quicker weight loss than higher carbohydrate diets, so consuming almond milk and other low-carbohydrate foods may help you lose weight.
Although almond milk is low in protein, it is rich in calcium, as each cup contains 30 percent of the daily suggested intake of this mineral. Calcium is a vital structural component of your teeth and bones, and offers other benefits as well. Calcium aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, promotes the secretion of hormones and helps drive muscle contractions, notes the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
While almond milk can be more appropriate than cow's milk if you are lactose intolerant, it is not without side effects, such as the possibility of an allergic reaction. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, more than 3 million Americans have an allergy to tree nuts, such as almonds, peanuts or both. A tree nut allergy may cause you to experience asthma, coughing, diarrhea, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling or lightheadedness upon consumption of almonds.
CRAMPS DURING EXERCISE
While traditional milk can be an effective pre-workout fuel source -- it offers carbohydrates for energy and protein to fuel your muscles -- almond milk can be less effective and possibly even detrimental. Eating too much fat prior to exercise can cause you to experience cramps, so limiting almond milk intake or avoiding the beverage altogether may be preferable, as each cup contains 4 g of fat.