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Milk is considered a key component in many diets, but is milk keto friendly? Let’s talk about whether milk fits into a keto diet, the amount of carbs in milk, keto diet milk alternatives, and how to include the flavor and texture of milk into keto recipes.
You can also learn more about how to start a keto diet here, and calculate how many carbs to eat in a day with the keto macro calculator.
Is Milk Keto Friendly?
Can you drink milk on keto? No… at least, not typical cow’s milk.
Milk is not keto friendly because it contains high amounts of sugar in the form of lactose. Milk may fit in to a lower-carb diet, but it contains too many carbs for a traditional keto lifestyle.
How Many Carbs In Milk?
One cup of 2% milk contains 12 total carbs and 0 fiber, which means it also contains 12g net carbs per cup [*].
Since many keto dieters consume less than 20 net carbs per day, milk is not an ideal food choice because a single serving would use up over half one’s daily allotment of carbs.
Is Whole Milk Keto?
No, whole milk is not keto friendly.
Since the keto diet encourages consuming more dietary fat, you may think that whole milk is more keto friendly. However, one cup of whole milk contains 12g net carbs — the same as 2% milk [*].
For anyone counting carbs closely, cow’s milk is not a very good option.
The Best Milk For Keto
So, which milk is best for keto if cow’s milk is off the table? There are a few options…
Is Almond Milk Keto?
Yes, almond milk is keto friendly milk! It contains 1.4g net carbs per 1-cup serving.
If you enjoy almond milk on keto, choose plain and unsweetened varieties to keep net carbs low.
Is Coconut Milk Keto?
Coconut milk is a keto milk too, just like almond milk. Coconut milk comes in two forms:
- Coconut milk beverage (in a carton) has 2g net carbs per 1-cup serving. This is most similar to regular milk with a consistency that you would drink.
- Full-fat coconut milk (in a can) has 2g net carbs per 1/4-cup serving. Canned coconut milk is very thick and rich, which is why the serving size is smaller, and is usually used in recipes rather than for drinking.
Canned coconut milks and coconut milks in a carton are both low in net carbs, as long as you choose plain and unsweetened versions.
Is Heavy Cream Keto?
Heavy cream is the best milk for keto if you tolerate dairy, and it clocks in at approximately 0.426 net carbs per 1-tablespoon serving [*], but varies slightly by brand.
Pay special attention to serving size for this keto milk. Many labels will round the carb count up to 1g or down to 0g for a tablespoon, and that adds up to a big discrepancy when using a lot.
Is Oat Milk Keto?
Can you have milk on a keto diet made from oats? Considering the high carb count in raw oats, oat milk is not keto friendly.
A cup of oat milk has 8g net carbs in a 1-cup serving, so while it’s slightly lower than dairy milk, it is not a very good choice for low carb eating.
Carbs In Different Kinds Of Milk
Keto Milk Substitutes For Recipes
If dairy milk itself is not keto… what milk is keto? You can still enjoy flavor and creaminess similar to milk with the right substitutes.
Give these keto milk alternatives a try:
- Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk – It’s smooth and sweet like regular milk, without the high sugar content. You can easily make it yourself! You can also buy it, but make sure it’s unsweetened.
- Heavy Cream – If you tolerate dairy, this is the most realistic keto milk substitute. Heavy cream is typically too rich and caloric to drink straight, but is delicious for coffee or using in recipes. Sometimes you can water down heavy cream with water to make a milk replacement.
- Coconut Milk – Full-fat varieties are the most keto-friendly, though lower fat coconut milk beverage is fine for drinking, too. Watch out for added sugar.
- Cashew milk, macadamia milk, and hemp milk – These cow milk alternatives contain between 0-1 net carbs per cup.
- Butter – While you can’t drink it alone (!), blending butter into hot coffee transforms it into a creamy latte. Try it in this butter coffee recipe!
- Keto Coffee Creamer – This makes the perfect sweet substitute if you like milk or half and half in your coffee.
So, while traditional milk doesn’t easily fit into a ketogenic lifestyle, you can choose from plenty of low carb milk alternatives. Any of these options are great candidates to be the best milk for keto, so you can choose the one you like best.
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Is whole, lactose free milk keto friendly?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Antonio, There are many different kinds of lactose free milk, so you would have to look at the nutritional info on the container.
I found a new cow milk called Fairlife. It is ultra filtered and lactose free. Contains 150 calories per cup, 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of total carbs, 0 fiber, 6 g of total sugars, 0 added sugar. Is this ok to use? I make sugar free pudding and hot cocoa (stevia) with milk. I’m not losing pounds as I should be. Don’t know what is off.
It’s fine to use. You just have to keep your carbs under a certain amount daily. You could always buy their Fairlife’s whole milk, since it has the same amount of carbs, then combine with equal parts water, such as 1/2 c milk and 1/2 c water to bring it down to 3 grams of carbs.
Wholesome Yum D1
Hi Roxanne, I personally stick with unsweetened almond or coconut milk because they are very low in carbs.
Carb master by Kroger!! It’s helping me.
I guess cow milk without lactose might be okay if its just a little for 1 – 2 cups of coffe a day?
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Anders, Lactose-free cows milk has the same amount of sugars as regular milk, so it’s not the best choice. If you need a lactose free option then I suggest considering an alternative dairy-free milk (i.e. nut milks or coconut milk) or look into a keto-friendly, dairy-free creamer. Best wishes!
Fairlife brand Lactose-Free Ultra Filtered Milk has half the amount of carbs as regular milk, 6 grams of carbs. You could get whole and mix 1/2 cup with water to bring it down to 3 grams of carbs per cup.
Hi, can heavy whipping cream be used as a replacement to milk in my cereal?
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Jessica, Have you figured out your macros yet? Here is my macro calculator. That will help you to determine if that is a good idea or not. Remember that fat is a lever, not a goal, so you only want to eat as much as you need to be satisfied. Depending on your macros, that may be fine, or perhaps try a little heavy cream mixed in almond milk to give you the dairy like creaminess. Best wishes!
Would love to read the article without all the ads. So bad I couldn’t stand to read it. I took a screenshot, but cannot add pics to the comment.
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi David, Thanks for your feedback. Ads keep the Wholesome Yum website running and allow me to develop recipes that readers like you can access absolutely free. However, you may be interested in Wholesome Yum Plus, which includes an ad-free version of the website, along with other perks.
Great article! I love the milk comparison chart. Thank you!
I am now having issues with heavy cream. Half n half does not bother me ( in my coffee, about 2 tsp). As a general guideline for soups and veggie dishes, which would work better? Half n half or watering down heavy cream? How about in dessert recipes? Or replacing the heavy cream with equal amount of almond milk?
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Nicolle, I’m sorry heavy cream is not reacting well with you. I would suggest you replace heavy cream with what you do tolerate – half and half. Almond milk will work in some recipes, but not all. For a universal switch, I think half and half is a better choice.
I’m thinking about starting keto and these tips are really useful. The substitution of dairy milk never ever crossed my mind! Thanks!
When I really need my milk-in-a-glass fix, I drink one-half cup of Fairlife whole lactose-free milk. It has 6 g of carbs in one cup. Delicious!
Thank you for the information. I’m a Dairy girl, from the farm, but don’t drink milk. Having Osteoporosis I do use full fat Greek yogurt. Not sure how to find specific calcium in a certain brand. Also use heavy cream in recipes and wondered how to count the carbs. They are so unspecific. Same with half and half. But I love dairy: cheeses, cream, what I can have and fits the diet I love.
Very useful information. I learned a lot. Thanks for sharing!
This was SO helpful and answered all my questions!
Thank you so much for all the great keto milk information. This was very informative. Even if you aren’t doing keto and just want to get few carbs. Thanks!
Maya, how can I use unsweetened baker’s chocolate to make a chocolate mousse or pudding?
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Michele, You actually don’t need to use bakers chocolate for pudding. I have a recipe keto chocolate pudding recipe here that may interest you.