Once you start the keto diet you will need to switch from dairy milk to a low carb milk. Whole milk, skim milk, 2% milk, even half and half is not keto friendly.
That doesn’t mean you need to give up milk altogether. There are low carb milk options suitable for the keto diet, such as:
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Flax Milk
- Unsweetened Soy Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Pea Protein Milk
- Macadamia Nut Milk
- Cashew Nut Milk
- Heavy Cream (high fat option)
Milks to Avoid on Keto
- Cows Milk
- Goats Milk
- Any nut milk that has added sugar or sweeteners
- Oat Milk
- Sheep Milk
- Rice Milk
- Evaporated Milk
- Raw Milk
- Condensed Milk
Why is Cream Keto But Not Milk?
Cream is made from milk, but it is the concentrated milk fat. During the process of separating the fat from the milk (resulting in cream) a large proportion of the sugar (lactose) is also removed.
If you are getting started on the keto diet and looking for a low carb milk substitute, cream can be a good option – especially if you like the taste of dairy. I found that switching from whole milk to cream in my coffee was an easy transition when I first started on keto.
Cream isn’t very high in protein however and does contain some carbs, in addition to high levels of fat. Nutritionally, there are better choices that can be made than cream, such as nut and seed milks.
Is Half and Half Keto?
Half and half is half cream, half milk. This makes for a higher sugar content and therefore, is not technically keto friendly.
There are 0.6 grams of carbs per tablespoon of half and half. Whilst this doesn’t sound like a lot, it can quickly add up.
If you choose to add half and half to your coffee, smoothies or shakes on keto you will need to ensure you take these carbs into account.
What Milk is Best for Keto?
Unsweetened nut milks such as almond, cashew and macadamia milks are all good choices for keto. Coconut milk and coconut cream is also a good low carb milk alternative. Seed milks such as hemp milk and flax milk have excellent nutritional benefits and are also keto friendly.
Let’s take a closer look at the best milk for keto:
Unsweetened Almond Milk
Unsweetened Almond Milk is a popular low carb milk substitute for keto, as it is readily available in stores, has a slightly creamy texture and nutty flavor. It is important that you choose the unsweetened variety of almond milk when purchasing. Sweetened almond milk is not keto friendly.
Unsweeteend almond milk contains 1.4 grams of carbs per one cup serve. It has 3 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of protein. Look for varieties that have added calcium and vitamin D to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need.
Unsweetened Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is made from coconut flesh that is pureed. Full fat canned coconut milk can be used as a low carb milk substitute for the keto diet. According to the USDA, coconut milk has 0.5 grams of net carbs per 1 tablespoon serve.
Make sure you read the label before purchasing to ensure there are no added sugars, especially if buying coconut milk in a carton rather than a can. Like almond milk, some manufacturers add sugar to sweeten the product. Sweetened coconut milk should be avoided on the keto diet.
Unsweetened Macadamia Nut Milk
Macadamia nut milk is smooth with a slight sweetness to it and is an excellent choice as a low carb alternative to milk on the keto diet.
Once up of unsweetened macadamia nut milk contains 1 gram of carbs. In terms of carb counting, this makes macadamia nut milk a better choice than coconut milk or almond milk for the keto diet.
Macadamia nut milk is available to buy on Amazon, at Walmart and speciality stores throughout the USA, UK and Canada. In Australia, you will find unsweetened macadamia nut milk in Coles. Woolworths has the barista variety and this had added sugar.
Unsweetened Soy Milk
There are arguments for and against soy milk that surround the health benefits, particularly in women. I encourage you to do your own research on soy milk and make a decision if you want to include soy milk in your diet.
When looking at the carbohydrate levels, soy milk can be used on the keto diet. Unsweetened soy milk contains 2 grams of net carbs per one cup serve.
Unsweetened Cashew Nut Milk
Like macadamia nut milk, unsweetened cashew nut milk contains 1 gram of carbs per 1 cup serve. Cashew nut milk also has less sodium than almond milk and slightly more fat.
You can buy cashew nut milk on Amazon or make your own cashew nut milk at home. I’ll cover keto friendly nut milk recipes in a separate post.
Unsweetened Flax Milk
Flax milk is made by combining cold pressed flax seed oil with pea protein and added vitamins and minerals. Flax milk has a pleasant nutty style flavor and is much higher in protein than keto nut milk alternatives, having 8 grams of protein per 1 cup serve.
There are 2 grams of carbs per one cup serve of unsweetened flax milk.
As usual, make sure you look for unflavored, unsweetened varieties. The carb count of vanilla and chocolate flavored flax milk is similar to regular cows milk as they have added sugar.
Unsweetened Hemp Milk
Unsweetened Hemp milk is another winner for the keto diet, with 1.3 grams of carbs per one cup serve.
Hemp milk also contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids.
Hemp milk isn’t as readily available as other types of keto milk alternatives, although you can find it on Amazon.
If you haven’t noticed the “unsweetened” trend by now, many manufactuers add sugar to improve the taste. Make sure you only purchase unsweetened products to avoid added sugars, which drastically increase the carb count.
Unsweetened Pea Protein Milk
Pea Protein milk is low fodmap, moderate protein (4 grams per one cup serve) virtually zero carb keto milk alternative. Stroud is a popular pea protein milk brand available on Amazon, made from split yellow peas.
The only think I don’t like about Stroud Pea Protein milk is it has added canola oil and oat oil.
The barista version is popular for coffee, but watch out for the added carbs! Stroud Barista Pea Protein Milk has added canola oil and agave syrup, bringing it in a 4 grams of carbs per one cup serve.
If you added one quarter cup to your coffee, you would need to add one gram of carbs to your daily carb count.
The benefits of pea protein milk is it is vegan friendly, nut free, soy free, gluten free and has around the same calcium level as cows milk.
I spoke above about why cream is keto, but milk isn’t. If you have tried every keto milk alternative and can’t find one that you feel you could live with, cream is an option.
Just remember that cream is high in fat. Whilst the ketogenic diet is about including a higher level of fat in your diet, if you are looking to lose weight, you will still need to remain in a calorie deficit.
Your body will burn fat for fuel (instead of sugar), but if you are eating too many high fat foods you may find yourself not losing weight.
How much fat you should eat per day depends on your height, weight and activity level. I highly recommend downloading the keto diet app and calculating how much fat you need to be eating per day to stay on track.
Click on the image below for a free 7 day trial.