Today’s product comparison is between two products that are both great for a low-carb diet, as well as a low GI, vegan, or lactose-intolerant diet. There are lots of milk alternatives out there today, and like anything, it’s hard to know where to start – too many choices! Hopefully, this will help.
The products: The comparison here is between unsweetened versions of soy milk and almond milk – because the sweetened versions have too much sugar for a low-carb diet, almost as much as regular milk. I’ve chosen Blue Diamond Almond Breeze unsweetened original flavor, and although the picture shows Silk Organic no sugar added soy milk, which is easier to find, Trader Joe’s is actually better (lower carb, higher protein).
Nutrition: Almond milk weighs in at a tiny 40 calories, 3 gm fat, 1 gm carb, and 1 gm protein per cup. Yep, that’s an entire cup. Soy milk more typically has around 75 calories, 4 gm fat, 2-3 gm carbs, and 7-9 gm protein. So, if you’re looking for low-fat, low-carb, low-everything, almond milk clearly fits the bill. Soy milk is higher in protein, so if part of your goal is to add protein to your meal or your drink, soy milk will do a better job.
It’s worth noting that even flavored (unsweetened) almond milk has very similar nutritional profiles to these. Even the chocolate still only has 2 gm carb, 2 gm protein, and 45 calories. Another factor in favor of almond milk is that I’m concerned about getting too much soy, something that can happen if you’re a vegetarian or following a low-dairy diet.
Taste: Here is where I think almond milk wins hands down. Of all the milk substitutes, it tastes the most like milk, whereas soy milk… just doesn’t. I can put almond milk in my cereal or in my latte, and it’s close enough to milk that it doesn’t taste weird. The vanilla flavored version is nice for lattes, too.
Cooking: Neither one of these is really going to act like a dairy product in terms of cooking, and almond milk seems to have a somewhat lower heat tolerance than soy milk. Either one would work fine in situations like shakes or smoothies. If thinning or adding creaminess to a sauce, I would do it after the sauce has cooled a bit and make sure not to boil it. Soy milk can be frothed and steamed for a latte, almond milk can be heated but does not have the same texture as regular milk or soy milk – soy milk is much heavier and almond milk is lighter than regular milk.
My preference: I have gone almost entirely to almond milk, except in situations where I need the added protein of the soy milk. I much prefer the flavor of the almond milk and its lower carb and calorie/fat content.