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Net Carbs in Milk: Is Milk Keto-Friendly? – A Comprehensive Review

Latest updates by: Hassan Thwaini
Custom KetoDiet Plan

For the majority of us, milk was the essence of our childhood. We drank it warm before we slept, enjoyed a bowl of sugar-filled cereal for breakfast, and dipped our favorite cookies in it when we felt sad.

Milk is essential at a young age as it provides us with the essential minerals we needed to help out bodies grow tall and strong. However, despite the benefits that milk can bring(*), it has received a lot of negativity from keto dieters.

But why?

We understand your confusion. Most dairy products are somewhat vital when it comes to the keto diet, and so you would assume milk would also fall into the same category.

So don’t worry, we are here to give you all the details and information you need to justify the use of milk in the ketogenic diet and help you answer the question “is milk keto-friendly?”

Brief Overview Of Dairy Milk

image of Dairy Milk Keto Low Carb

Any kind of food or drink that comes from the milk of a mammal is known to us as dairy milk. For most of us, cow’s milk is the most popular go-to milk.

Milk is one of the key ingredients in a variety of foods, from creamy curry sauces to the sweetest of desserts. It comes as no surprise that we in the keto community have tried our best to fit it into the diet.

With that being said, why don’t we jump right into the nutritional benefits of milk and give you the factual truth about the hidden carbs milk contains and how you can have milk on keto?

Nutritional Value Of Milk

image of Nutritional Value, It is Keto Low-carb Ketoaholics

When it comes to the keto diet, we always look for foods that are high fat and low carb. With regards to milk, you would assume that whole milk would be our go-to dairy option, right?

Let’s take a look at the nutritional content of one cup of whole milk below and let you evaluate the net carbs milk contains(*):

  • Calories: 149
  • Total Fat: 7.9 grams
  • Cholesterol: 24 milligrams
  • Sodium: 105 milligrams
  • Potassium: 322 milligrams
  • A WHOPPING 12 GRAMS OF NET CARBS
  • Protein: 7.7 grams
  • Calcium: 21% of your recommended daily intake

As you can see, whole milk contains a ridiculous 12 grams of net carbs per cup, which is very high to incorporate into the ketogenic diet, especially for keto dieters undergoing the strict keto diet.

However, all of these net carbs that cow’s milk contains do come with wonderful health benefits. (*) Firstly, let’s take a quick look at the nutritional benefits that milk can bring before we delve into the health benefits.

  • Cow’s milk is an excellent source of healthy fats
  • The protein content per cup of whole milk is amazing
  • Cow’s milk contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals

As you can see, the nutritional value of milk appeals to many, and not just children. Athletes can truly benefit from drinking cow’s milk, and one cup of cow’s milk may actually be good for those undergoing the cyclical keto diet and need a carb boost after their workout.

Milk Health Benefits

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Let’s face it. Cow’s milk, undoubtedly, has a plethora of benefits to the human body. Below, we’re going to go through the most essential benefits that milk can bring.

Nutritious

Milk is a fantastic source of essential vitamins and minerals that help maintain our strength and help us grow. Milk also provides minerals that are lacking in many diets, such as potassium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. (*)

Not only is milk a great source of protein, but milk is full of beneficial fats and omega-3. (*) These fats and fatty acids are essential in reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (*)

The nutritional value of milk differs depending on the type of milk you decide to choose. If you opt for the high carb, full fat, whole milk, you will get all of the above benefits. However, if you decide to choose fat-free milk instead, the nutritional value changes.

The nutritional value of milk not only depends on whether your milk is full-fat or fat-free but also depends on the diet of the cow. Grass-fed cows have been shown to contain a larger amount of beneficial fats and omega-3. (*)

Helps With Weight Loss

Many studies have been carried out that have directly linked the consumption of whole milk to less obesity. (*)

Further research was carried out on middle-aged women which have determined that the consumption of milk led to reduced weight gain and a reduction in obesity. (*)

The question here is how? How does milk help with weight loss?

Protein is rich in protein, with nearly 8 grams of protein in one cup. Protein is not only essential for muscle growth and muscle repair but has been proven to give you a sense of satisfaction and fullness which helps lower your weight. (*)

Better yet, the fats contained in milk, particularly linoleic acid, have been shown to help break down fats. (*)

Therefore, evidence has concluded that people with a higher contribution of dairy products to their diet were shown to experience less weight gain, be stronger, and recover more fully from exercise.

Bone Health

This point should come as no surprise. From a young age, our parents have always encouraged us to drink that extra glass of milk because it would help us get stronger.

Our dentists would encourage us to drink milk to strengthen our teeth, and milk is a versatile ingredient that has been used in many dishes which we consume whilst growing up.

So how exactly does milk strengthen our bones?

The combination of nutrients and minerals found in milk is essential in maintaining strong bones. In fact, up to 99% of the calcium which you consume and that is already in your body is actually found in your bones and teeth. (*)

The addition of calcium and vitamin D to your daily diet can help prevent bone-related complications as you grow older, such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Studies have confirmed this theory, especially in older people. (*)

Better yet, protein! yes, protein, again.

Protein is extremely volatile and works in a variety of ways. Protein actually makes up nearly half of your bone volume, and therefore consuming more protein in your diet is vital in preventing bone loss, and ultimately, osteoporosis – especially in older women. (*)

Do Milk And Keto Diet Go Hand-In-Hand?

image of Milk and Keto Low-carb Diet

The majority of fatty dairy products out there fit perfectly into the keto diet. Some of our favorite keto-friendly products are dairies, such as butter, heavy cream, and cheese.

This is because most high-fat dairy products out there contain a lower amount of lactose than milk. For example, low-fat yogurt is not keto-friendly because it contains a thickening agent in the form of extra lactose, which will then get converted into sugar.

A general rule you should stick by to ensure your purchases are keto-friendly is this: stick to high-fat dairy options.

So why is milk not keto-friendly?

Firstly, when asking “is milk keto?”, you need to take into account the 12 grams of net carbs per cup that milk contains. These net carbs are all derived from sugar that is converted from lactose.

Do bear in mind that even lactose-free milk is not keto-friendly and still contains 12 grams of net carbs per cup, similar to whole milk. Other kinds of milk derived from goat or sheep are also high in net carbs as they contain lactose, and provide you with 11 grams and 13 grams of net carbs per cup respectively.

A healthy keto meal plan requires us to follow a low-carb restriction. With milk providing 12 grams of net carbs per cup, it takes away about 50% of our daily net carb allowance.

You could try and incorporate milk into your diet if you had a larger net carb allowance of 30-50 grams, however, we only recommend you do so if you plan to consume the milk after a heavy workout.

It is, therefore, our verdict, that dairy milk is not keto-friendly. This is because the carbs in milk are simply too high.

Low-carb Keto-Friendly Milk Alternatives: Which Milk Is Best for Keto?

As we have established, we need to avoid regular milk on the keto diet. However, due to the ever-rising popularity of keto and vegan diets, companies have started to manufacture milk alternatives that do not contain many carbs, are keto-friendly, and some even are even high in fat!

Below you’ll find a list of our favorite keto-friendly milk alternatives:

Almond Milk

image of Almond Milk low carb keto

Can I Drink Almond Milk on Keto?

Yes, Unsweetened almond milk contains only 0.4 grams of net carbs per cup, and 3 grams of fat, which make unsweetened almond milk perfect for the keto diet. Although milk from a nut, unsweetened almond milk has a very subtle taste and so can be used in a variety of ways to help reduce your carb intake and satisfy yourself with the flavor of milk.

Coconut Milk

image of coconut milk low carb keto

This high-calorie powerhouse is one of the best keto-friendly milk options out there. The majority of the calories in coconut milk comes from the natural unsaturated fats found which provide us with wonderful health benefits.

The creamy consistency of coconut milk makes for a wonderful substitute in curries, and if left to sit still, coconut milk will split and form coconut cream which can be used as an alternative for whipped cream and cooking cream.

Soy Milk

image of soy milk low carb keto

Probably one of the first milk alternatives and one of the most popular keto-friendly milk options, unsweetened soy milk is used widely by a number of cafes due to its popularity. Unfortunately, even the unsweetened soy milk contains 3 grams of net carbs, however, it is still more beneficial to consume, especially if you have a nut or lactose intolerance!

Pea Milk

image of pea milk keto

We know, this sounds unpleasant. However, you’d be surprised to know that pea milk offers similar protein and calcium properties to that of whole milk and is especially low in carbs, making it the perfect keto-friendly milk.

The Bottom Line: Is Milk Keto?

So, time for us to properly answer your question of “is milk keto?”. The answer is, no, milk is not keto-friendly.

If you want to have milk on keto, we suggest you try one of the many milk alternatives out there in the market. These milk alternatives are low in the carb when you opt for the unsweetened variety, and each comes with a unique taste and health properties that are sure to provide you with a load of fun when it comes to formulating your own recipes!

Just make sure that you avoid the following milk:

  • Oat milk – packed full of carbs
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Goat’s Milk
  • Sheep’s Milk

Otherwise, go nuts with all the milk alternatives we have listed for you and enjoy the milky flavor with a little impact on your state of ketosis.

image of is milk keto friendy


Hassan Thwaini

Hassan Thwaini is a qualified pharmacist and hospital specialist at the University of Sunderland. His main focus is to help people utilize their environment and develop a Keto-based diet to help give everybody a healthy lifestyle.


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