How Much Sugar Is In Milk? Chocolate, Whole, Skim and More

  • Article
  • 2 min read May 1, 2023

There are about 12 grams of natural sugar (lactose) in each 8-ounce glass of milk, which is about the same amount of natural sugar you would find in an orange. Flavored milk options, like chocolate milk, do contain added sugar for flavor.

Exactly How Much Sugar Is in a Glass of Milk?

Type of Milk

Milk Sugar Content (per 8 oz. serving)

Nonfat (Skim) Milk

12 grams natural sugar

Lowfat (1%) Milk

12 grams natural sugar

Reduced Fat (2%) Milk

12 grams natural sugar

Whole Milk

12 grams natural sugar

Chocolate Milk (Reduced Fat)

24 grams sugar (12 grams natural sugar, 12 grams added sugar)

Flavored Milk (School Meal Program)

24 grams sugar (12 grams natural sugar, 12 grams added sugar)

Lactose-Free Milk (Reduced Fat)

12 grams natural sugar

So is the natural sugar (lactose) in milk bad for you?

When looking at your diet as a whole, it’s important to consider a food’s full nutrient package. Many foods with naturally occurring sugars, like milk or fruit, also offer nutritious vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber or bioactives that can benefit our health. So yes, while milk does have natural sugar, it also delivers 13 essential nutrients including 8 grams of high-quality protein in every 8-ounce glass.

How do I know if the sugar is natural or added?

Take a look at the nutrition facts label. It will show both total sugars (which includes the natural sugar) and added sugars. Added sugars are used to add flavor or enhance sweetness and should be limited to about 50 grams per day for most adults.

What about those with lactose intolerance?

People with lactose intolerance are less able to fully digest lactose due to decreased amounts of the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose. As a result, some may experience abdominal discomfort and other unpleasant symptoms. There are solutions like lactose-free dairy milk, which is real dairy milk with 13 essential nutrients, just with the lactose removed. And, many people with lactose intolerance often can tolerate varying degrees of lactose. This is especially important, since those who suspect they have lactose intolerance may unnecessarily cut all dairy out of their diet, which means they may not be getting key nutrients their bodies need. Here are some helpful hints that can help you add dairy back into your diet.

Have more questions on milk sugar content? You can find answers here.