Milk is high in protein and fat, and relatively light on the carbs. Does that make it a healthy part of a keto diet?
Milk is keto-friendly if you measure it carefully. A one-cup serving has around 12g of carbs and 8g of protein, which fits into a keto diet in moderation. (1) However, milk also contains sugars like lactose, which could spike your blood sugar and keep you out of ketosis if you drink too much.
Keep in mind that these are also liquid carbs, which means you’re using up your limited amount of carbs without “filling up” on satiating food. This might make it harder to stay within your carb allowance.
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While small servings of milk are considered keto, it definitely isn’t Paleo. That’s because most commercial milk contains added hormones and antibiotics that could interfere with our own hormone balance. One common hormone in particular is rBGH, which is banned in the European Union due to concerns over safety (2, 3)
Even without added hormones, milk poses a big allergy risk. In fact, milk is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. (4) Many adults also have a hard time tolerating milk because many of us lack the enzyme required to break down lactose, resulting in stomach issues like diarrhea and bloating. (5)
While some people experience no issues with milk, roughly two-thirds of the world’s population still cannot digest it. (6)
Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty, non-dairy milks on the market with less than half the carbs and none of the side effects of dairy milk.
Best Keto-Friendly Milks
Here are the top five keto-approved and Paleo-friendly milk options. When you’re shopping for these milks, check the label for added sugars. Look for unsweetened varieties to keep the carb count down.
1. Almond Milk
Another great thing about almond milk is that there aren’t any reported side effects (this is excluding those with a nut allergy) and the taste of the unflavored versions are fairly neutral, so you can use it in almost any recipe that calls for milk. (8)
You can purchase almond milk at your local health food store, or make your own by blending ½ cup of almonds with 1½ – 2 cups water in a blender, and then straining through a nut milk bag.
2. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is another excellent choice for a keto milk. It’s naturally rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which research shows can help to boost your metabolism. (9) In addition, coconut contains antibacterial compounds, which can help keep infections at bay. (10)
Find coconut milk at your local health food stores. The boxed version is a liquid consistency that you can add to smoothies and coffee. You can also use the thicker canned coconut milk in curries and other foods, just note that it contains more calories.
3. Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is rich in protein, vitamin E, minerals, amino acids, and healthy fats. (11)
Unless it contains natural thickeners like tapioca starch, hemp milk is a little thinner than some non-dairy milks. However, it does have a light, nutty taste that goes well with many recipes. You can buy it at most health food stores.
4. Flax Milk
Like hemp milk, flax milk is a bit thin, but the taste is mild and mixes well into smoothies. You can find it at your local health food store.
5. Macadamia Milk
Macadamia nut milk is another low-carb milk that is high in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Studies show diets rich in macadamia nuts may be able to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart-related diseases. (13)
You’ll enjoy the buttery and slightly vanilla taste of macadamia nut milk. You can find it in health food stores, or make your own in the same way you can make almond milk.
Recipes to Try
There is no limit to how you can use a dairy-free nut milk. Just like regular milk, it can be added to coffee, tea, smoothies, stews, keto baked goods, and more. Try any of them in these Paleo recipes:
- Coconut milk ice cream (leave out the maple syrup!)
- Keto “noatmeal”
- Creamy cauliflower bacon chowder
- Iced caramel macchiato (avoid the sugar for keto)
- Thai lemongrass coconut milk mussels
The Bottom Line
Small servings of whole milk may be keto, but it certainly isn’t Paleo. Since many commercial dairy milks are over-processed with hormones, antibiotics, and cause gut issues, you may want to give these low carb, dairy-free alternatives a try.