With all the butter, cheese, and heavy cream you can eat on the keto diet, it’s easy to forget that cow’s milk is packed with carbs and sugar (from lactose). Because of this, milk is not a good beverage to drink on the ketogenic diet. Check which are the best and worst milk substitutes for the keto diet.
What we just said goes for all dairy milks, including whole, 1%, 2%, and skim, each of which is far from ketogenic. With that said, there are plenty of low carb milk alternatives that you can easily find in any supermarket.
Whether you want to eliminate carbohydrates or dairy from your diet, you’ll be able to find the keto milk substitute perfect for your needs. In fact, even evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk can be replaced with a keto diet-approved option that will help you improve your overall health and reach your fat-loss goals.
to help you find best keto milk substitute review the following options:
Why substitute milk on the keto diet?
There are three main reasons why you may find it helpful to limit your milk intake while following a ketogenic lifestyle:
1. Milk Contains Too Many Net Carbs
Milk naturally contains large amounts of lactose, which is broken down into simple sugars by the enzyme lactase in the intestine. Unfortunately, even a cup of whole milk (the highest fat dairy milk) will come with 11 grams of net carbs.
In the context of a ketogenic diet, milk can only be used in moderation. By just having a glass of milk with breakfast, you can consume nearly half of your net carb limit (which is typically around 25 grams per day) while also restricting your food choices for the rest of the day.
That said, you can still use whole milk in small amounts in your keto recipes, coffee, or tea, as one tablespoon of whole milk only has ~0.7 grams of net carbs.
However, keep in mind that there is a wide range of keto-friendly milk substitutes that will be much easier to incorporate into your diet regardless of how much you consume.
2. Milk contains lactose and particular proteins to which you may be sensitive or allergic
If you can’t tolerate dairy for any reason, the ketogenic diet will seem like a daunting task due to its heavy reliance on dairy products like cheese and heavy cream. Fortunately, there are more non-dairy alternatives to milk than those that are dairy-based.
3. Seek to completely limit the consumption of animal products
Whether for the sake of your health, the environment, or animal welfare, there are plenty of milk substitutes that are 100% vegan and keto friendly.
Cow’s milk substitutes for the keto diet
In general, the best alternatives will be a high-fat dairy product or an unsweetened plant-based milk made from nuts, seeds, peas, and/or soybeans. In both cases, the product should have the same consistency as milk with a small fraction of the net carbohydrates.
Keto-Friendly Dairy-Based Dairy Substitutes
- Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream – This will be the higher fat dairy option for the keto lifestyle.
- Half and Half: Being a mixture of half milk and half cream, it’s also a great alternative to whole milk. Note that you will have slightly less fat than heavy cream.
Dairy-free vegan milk substitutes for keto diet
1. Unsweetened Coconut Milk: Pure coconut milk (meaning the ingredients are coconut and water) is the highest fat vegan-friendly milk substitute.
2. Unsweetened nut milk: you can find a vegan keto milk substitute made from virtually any nut. “Milk” made from almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamias, and even hazelnuts can be found online or on the shelves. Look for products with the shortest ingredient list and less than 2 grams of net carbs per cup.
3. Unsweetened Seed Milk: Flax milk and hemp milk are the two easiest keto substitutes to find for anyone with nut and dairy allergies. Read the ingredient label carefully, as these products tend to contain other high-carbohydrate ingredients. Look for flax or hemp dairy products with less than 2 grams of net carbs per cup.
4. Unsweetened soy milkKeto: Although most soy dairy products are far from low carb, there are several keto options available. Look for unsweetened organic soymilk and check the nutrition label. It should have no more than 2 grams of net carbs per cup.
5. Unsweetened Pea Protein Milk: Whether it’s called pea milk or plant protein milk, the featured ingredient will be pea protein.
If you’re not avoiding dairy, then a great option for getting a milk replacer with a higher fat content and a fuller mouthfeel is a mix of nut milk and heavy cream. Simply combine the heavy whipping cream with a nut or seed milk of your choice.
A tasty way to do this is to use about 80% nut or seed milk and 20% heavy cream. For example, to replace a cup of whole milk, you can use 190 ml of almond milk and 50 ml of heavy cream.
*Before purchasing any of these options, be sure to check the net carbs, ingredients, and serving size to verify that the product is suitable for your keto diet.
How to make your own ketogenic cow’s milk substitute
Sorting through the litany of milk alternatives on grocery store shelves (and online listings) can be stressful. If you have difficulty find a ketogenic milk substitute you can trusttry to prepare it yourself.
Homemade keto nut milk (works with sunflower seeds too)
- Soak 1 cup of raw walnut overnight.
- Rinse the nuts and add them to your blender with 4 cups of filtered water.
- Blend until smooth.
- Drain the mixture through a muslin cloth or nut bag.
- Squeeze the almond milk from the almond flour pulp.
- Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
Homemade ketogenic seed milk (flax or hemp)
- Add ½ cup of seeds and 4 cups of water to your blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Carefully strain the mixture through a muslin cloth or nut bag and discard the pulp (or use as a substitute for flaxseed meal in a vegan keto porridge).
- Enjoy right away or store the milk in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Ketogenic Flavoring Options for Homemade Nut or Seed Milks
- Use a teaspoon of unsweetened vanilla extract for vanilla flavor.
- Blend your favorite keto sweetener to your preferred sweetness.
- Blend pure cocoa powder for a keto-friendly chocolate milk substitute.
- Add cinnamon, ground ginger, pumpkin pie spice mix, and/or other spices.
- Add a pinch of salt.
Alternatives to milk to avoid on the keto diet
Now that we know what to use and how to use it, let’s take a look at what to avoid on the ketogenic diet:
Any variety of grain-based milk: Oat milk and rice milk, in particular, tend to have more net carbs than regular milk, even in its purest form.
Lactose-free milk: Unfortunately, this does not mean that the carbohydrates are removed from the milk. Instead, the milk sugar (lactose) is converted into sugars that are even easier to digest.
Any sweetened product – Make sure the product is not sweetened with keto-friendly ingredients. Avoid the product if you see ingredients like cane sugar, cane syrup, dried cane syrup, evaporated cane juice, or brown rice syrup.
Most flavored dairy products: Flavorings are often accompanied by sweeteners. That said, there are several alternatives to unsweetened vanilla milk that are keto-friendly.
Chemical thickeners, stabilizers, and artificial preservatives: A common strategy companies use to cut costs is to use a handful of cheaper ingredients that mimic different aspects of milk. Although these additives are generally safe in small doses, they can cause digestive upset for some people. In most cases, it is best to use one or two ingredient milk substitutes.
Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and their low-carb substitutes
Simply put, evaporated milk is milk that has been boiled to remove some of the water content, and sweetened condensed milk is evaporated milk with added sweetener.
Both are concentrated sources of simple sugar that will slow down your keto progress. Fortunately, there are some keto-friendly replacements you can use for these unhealthy options.
Evaporated Milk Substitutes for Keto
Since evaporated milk is just milk with less water content, there are plenty of easy substitution options that you can buy or make yourself.
- Whole Coconut Milk – This will give the recipe a coconut flavor, which will work well with most desserts and curries.
- Heavy Cream – The most versatile evaporated milk substitute – works well in sauces, soups, pie fillings, baking, casseroles, frozen desserts and custards.
- Half and Half – A great option if heavy cream is too rich for the recipe.
- Any vegan milk after reducing it by ~60%: You can make evaporated milk at home by simmering your preferred vegan milk alternative until you have 40% of the amount you started with.
These options can be used as a 1:1 replacement for evaporated milk, but be sure to read the tips next to each one to find the ideal substitute for your keto recipe.
Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute for Keto
With around 8 grams of net carbs per tablespoon, sweetened condensed milk is far from ketogenic. To find a good substitute that mimics the flavor without the added sugar, your options are much more limited than with evaporated milk.
Your best option is to do it yourself. All you need is heavy whipping cream, salted butter, allulose, and granulated erythritol to make a high-fat, sugar-free substitute that mimics every aspect of the original product. (Plus, you can also use these ingredients to make keto-friendly sauces, desserts, muffins, and pancakes.)