Milk and milk alternatives are tasty drinks and key ingredients in a lot of recipes. Still, you may wonder whether you can drink them on the keto diet.
Keto is a very low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet. On the keto diet, most people need to restrict their carb intake to about 25–30 grams of net carbs per day. The concept of net carbs refers to the total number of carbs minus the fiber content.
Therefore, for a milk to be keto-friendly, it needs to be low in net carbs.
Although some milks are not keto-friendly, several varieties are compatible with a keto diet.
This article lists milks that fit the keto diet, as well as those that don’t.
Keto dieters should avoid milks that contain moderate or excessive amounts of carbs.
For instance, all sweetened milks — including sweetened versions of keto-friendly milks — should be avoided because they are high in carbs from added sugar.
Here are some other milks that you should avoid while on keto:
- Cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains lactose, or milk sugar. This includes evaporated milk, ultra-filtered milk, and raw cow’s milk. One cup (244 mL) of 2% milk contains 12 grams of net carbs (1).
- Oat milk. Oat milk is made from oats, which are naturally high in carbs. This makes oat milk inappropriate for keto. One cup (240 mL) provides 17 grams of net carbs (2).
- Rice milk. Like oats, rice is naturally high in carbs, making rice milk a higher carb milk choice, too. One cup (240 mL) contains 21 grams of net carbs (3).
- Sweetened condensed milk. Condensed milk contains high amounts of added sugar and is used for making decadent desserts. Because of its high sugar content, you shouldn’t use it while on keto. One cup (240 mL) contains a whopping 165 grams of net carbs (4).
- Goat’s milk. Similarly to cow’s milk, goat’s milk contains natural sugars that make it too high in carbs to be keto-friendly. One cup (240 mL) provides 11 grams of net carbs (5).
Some of the higher carb milks that should be avoided on keto include cow’s milk, oat milk, rice milk, condensed milk, and goat’s milk. You should also avoid sweetened versions of keto-friendly milks.
Keto-friendly milks need to be low in carbs. Luckily, there are several good options.
However, you should note that only the unsweetened versions of these milks are appropriate for keto.
Additionally, carb counts will vary significantly between different brands due to their varying ingredients and formulations. Be sure to carefully read the nutrition facts on the label to assess whether a milk is truly keto-friendly.
Here are some keto-friendly milks:
- Almond milk. Almond milk is probably the most widely used milk on keto. It’s inexpensive, sold at most grocery stores, and relatively low in carbs, containing only 1 gram of net carbs per cup (240 mL) (6).
- Coconut milk. Coconut milk is also a good choice for keto, but some brands contain up to 5 grams of net carbs per 1-cup (240-mL) serving. As this is one-fifth of the daily carb allotment for keto, it should be used sparingly (7).
- Macadamia nut milk. Macadamia nut milk is more expensive than other keto-friendly milks, but it’s the lowest in carbs. One cup (240 mL) contains 1 gram of fiber and 0 net carbs (8).
- Flax milk. Made from flax seeds, flax milk is high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. One cup (240 mL) contains only 1 gram of net carbs (9, 10).
- Soy milk. Unsweetened soy milk contains 1 gram of fiber and 3 net carbs per cup (240 mL). Plus, it provides 7 grams of protein (11).
- Cashew milk. Cashew milk contains only 2 grams of net carbs per cup (240 mL) (12).
- Pea milk. As a legume, peas are naturally high in protein, and pea milk boasts 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of net carbs per 1 cup (240 mL) (13).
- Half-and-half. Half-and-half is a combination of whole cow’s milk and heavy cream. It contains only 1 gram of net carbs per ounce (30 mL) and is a good substitute for cow’s milk in coffee and cooking (14).
- Heavy cream. Heavy cream is the fatty portion that’s separated from fresh cow’s milk to make butter or whipped cream. It’s high in fat and calories but contains only 1 gram of net carbs per ounce (30 mL) (15).
Unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, macadamia nut milk, flax milk, soy milk, cashew milk, and pea milk — along with half-and-half and heavy cream — are all keto-friendly milk options.
There are plenty of keto-friendly milk options.
Your best choices are unsweetened, plant-based milk alternatives — with the exception of rice and oat milks. Half-and-half and heavy cream are solid choices as well.
Avoid cow and goat milks because they contain natural sugar, and avoid sweetened milks, as they’re high in added sugar.
Thankfully, milk doesn’t have to be a thing of the past just because you’re following a keto diet.