Can I Have Milk On the Keto Diet?

Dairy milk may be a part of some types of keto diets, but you should watch your carb intake when having it. A typical glass of milk has about 12 grams of carbohydrates, which is pretty high if you are restricting carbs to about 20-50 grams, like most keto diets.

That said, you can still use full fat milk in smaller amounts in keto recipes, coffee, or tea, as one tablespoon of full fat milk has just 0.7 grams of net carbs. While one cup of whole milk is not going to hurt you (or knock you out of ketosis), it is slightly higher in carbohydrate than what is preferred by low-carb or keto dieters. This kind of milk is around 12 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of total fat, and 8 grams of protein in a one-serving (or roughly one-cup) size[*]. Since many keto dieters eat fewer than 20 net carbs a day, milk is not a great food choice, as one serving will consume more than half your daily carb allowance.

The naturally occurring sugars found in all milk are difficult to digest for some, another reason why many keto dieters might want to avoid dairy milk. If you are able to consume a higher amount of carbohydrates per day (for instance, if you are very active, or if you are following an alternate type of low-carb diet compared to Keto), then you might be willing to incorporate smaller amounts of cows milk.

While all of the other options in this list are Keto-friendly, cows milk can be a good option for those who are following a more flexible (if dairy is tolerable) low carb diet. When it comes to mainstream dairy-based milks, keto generally recommends going with heavy cream, full-fat milk, or any dairy drink with high fat content, but that unfortunately means heavy creams also have high lactose and high carb counts (regular milk in particular), so should be consumed sparingly.

Cream over milk on keto may not seem like a clear substitution, since these two products are quite similar, but heavy cream has only a tiny bit of carbs, meaning that it is suitable for keto. Heavy cream is the best milk to use for keto, as long as you can tolerate dairy, and comes in at about 0.426 net carbs per 1 cup serving[*], but varies a bit depending on brand. If you are able to tolerate cows milk in your diet, then heavy cream is an excellent dairy milk choice on keto, although it does not have quite the same flavor or mouthfeel as cows milk, as it is very creamy and has so much fat content it is almost oily. For those familiar with keto, or even keto with a lower-carb diet, or low-carb as well, they will know that it is heavily dependent on high-fat dairy such as whole milk, heavy cream, butter, and similar, so cutting that out cold turkey due to sensitivity may make it feel a little scary for you to start on keto.

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