It always comes as a surprise when we are told that you can’t have dairy milk on keto. So why is it that you can have other dairy products but not milk?
This is because dairy milk contains a certain type of sugar called lactose, which makes milk, not a low-carb drink.
Luckily for us, the rise of vegan and vegetarian diets has motivated companies to produce various milk alternatives for us all to enjoy. With this production, comes soy milk, a hidden gem for milk lovers on the low carb and keto diet.
So, you may be wondering, how is it fine to have soy milk on keto but not their soybean counterpart? Well, keep on reading this comprehensive review to find out how.
What Is Soy Milk?
You’ve seen soy milk take the world by storm as it is available on nearly every single milk aisle at various grocery stores and is the most commonly offered milk alternative in cafes.
Soya milk is plant-based. It is formed when soybeans are boiled and ground to form tofu, and then have their milk extracted through a cloth using filtered water.
In recent years companies have formulated recipes to perfect the soya milk consistency so that it is similar to dairy milk.
Soy milk is very high in protein, as shown in various other soy products such as tofu and soy-based cream. But how good is soy for your health?
Soy Milk Nutritional Value
We’re going to break down the macro and micronutrient components of soy milk for you below. Bear in mind that when talking about any milk alternative on the keto diet, we always refer to the unsweetened versions.
This is because the unsweetened varieties of non-dairy milk contain very little net carbs per serving and are therefore favored in the keto diet.
Below you’ll find the nutritional content found in one cup of unsweetened soy milk (*):
- 33 calories
- 1.7g of total fat
- 0.5g of net carbs
- 3.5g of protein
- vitamin and mineral content
How many carbs are in soy milk?
As you can see, soya milk is low carb, and with only 0.5g of net carbs in one serving (1 cup or 234 grams), we can classify soya milk as ketogenic-friendly.
Soy Milk On The Keto Diet: Is It Okay?
With only 33 calories, 1.7 grams of fat, and 0.5 grams of net carbs in a single serving of soy milk, it’s safe to say that soy milk, when unsweetened, is ketogenic-friendly.
You can therefore have as many servings as you like in your coffee without making a considerable dent in your net carb allowance. However, if you accidentally opt for sweetened soya milk, you may be consuming up to 12 grams of carbohydrates in one cup, which can take up nearly half of your daily net carb allowance!
Additionally, soya milk comes from a legume known as the soybean. Legumes are not typically consumed on the keto diet as they are not low carb.
Furthermore, a lot of legumes these days are genetically modified which reduces their nutritional availability and can lead to some issues further down the line in terms of our health.
So, to answer the question regarding whether is soya milk keto or not, we have to say that although yes, the unsweetened variety of soya milk is ketogenic-friendly, the soy itself may not be strictly keto-friendly.
Benefits And Downfalls Of Soy Milk
Now, just because the unsweetened milk of soy will not kick you out of ketosis doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for you. Various studies have compared the benefits to the potential downfalls of soy milk and so it is safe to say that arguments for both sides are valid.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the downfalls of soy milk.
Processed foods are never usually healthy, especially when taking into account the keto diet. Processed foods mean that various artificial ingredients within them may render them dirty keto.
Processing soybeans during the manufacture of low-carb soya milk exposes the mixture to hexane which is known as a neurotoxin. Although widely known as being dangerous when inhaled, it probably won’t do you much good if you ingest it.
Furthermore, various pesticides are using to maintain genetically modified soybeans. This means that the herbicide levels are high and so may be transferred into the milk during the filtration process.
Soy milk is therefore not organic and should be avoided on keto, especially if you are opting for full-fat soy milk.
Irregular Hormone Levels
Soybeans contain a chemical hormone regulator called phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens are structurally similar to estrogen and so compete for the same receptors.
This means that the typical processes of estrogens are inhibited, however, research hasn’t yet concluded if this causes an increase in hormone levels or decrease.
However, the hormone disruption brought upon by soy milk is not all bad, as additional studies have shown that these phytoestrogens help lower the incidence of breast cancer.
Although this is a benefit, eating food or drinking a milk substitute that has the potential to disrupt your body’s hormone regulation doesn’t sound like the most ketogenic food we can consume. If you are suffering from any hormone-related conditions, it is best to avoid soy milk in excess amounts.
Can Irritate Your Gut
Soybeans contain phytates and lectins. These products are typically found in the majority of legumes and operate as a defense mechanism to prevent animals from eating them.
The lectins found in soybeans have the potential to cause leaky gut syndrome, preventing the absorption of essential nutrients and leading to possible malnutrition.
Phytates also have a brother detrimental role on the health of our body. Phytic acid produced by the phytates prevents the absorption of essential minerals such as zinc and calcium, hindering our immune system’s function.
Due to the manufacturing process of soy milk, these bad ‘anti-nutrients are in fact more concentrated in soy milk than they are in soybeans.
Having said all of the above, soy milk is not all bad. There is a reason that this unsweetened, plant-based milk is a necessity in a keto meal.
Let’s go over some of the benefits that soy milk brings to our health, other than the obvious low carb properties which keto dieters love.
Soybeans are naturally rich in protein and various amino acids. They are also full of fiber, and several essential nutrients that our bodies need to thrive.
Additionally, soybeans provide our bodies with a source of polyphenols which are antioxidants. Antioxidants play a vital role in protecting our bodies from cell damage that could lead to heart disease and certain types of cancers.
Furthermore, you can expect to find a generous portion of isoflavones in soy milk otherwise known as phytoestrogens, as described above. These phytoestrogens have a beneficial impact as well. (*)
Improve Heart Health
Those who choose to incorporate this non-dairy milk into our keto diet are welcomed by a host of cardioprotective properties.
Soy milk contains arginine which helps control your blood pressure, which works simultaneously with the isoflavones that exert a similar effect. (*)
Additionally, these isoflavones help reduce any inflammation that may occur in blood vessels which improves elasticity. In fact, research has proven that diets rich in soy can help reduce your risk of heart disease by 15%! (*)
Lastly, studies have found a direct link between the consumption of soy products to reduced blood sugar levels. (*)
What is The Lowest Carb Milk Alternative For Keto Diet?
A fantastic compromise for those of you who crave milk but are following the keto diet is in luck. There are a variety of milk substitutes out there that contain macronutrient profiles suited perfectly for the keto diet.
So why don’t we show you which ones our favorites are?
Almond milk is one of the most wonderful milk alternatives found in your local grocery store that is completely keto-friendly when the unsweetened version is consumed.
One cup of unsweetened almond milk contains just 0.9 grams of net carbs, along with 1.1 grams of protein, and 2.6 grams of healthy fats. (*)
As you can see, the macronutrient composure of almond milk is perfect for the keto diet and will not knock you out of ketosis.
You may want to be careful reading the nutritional labels as sweetened almond milk has a whopping 7.2 grams of net carbs per 1 cup! (*)
If you’re after a slightly more flavored milk alternative to dairy milk, then you’ve found your perfect match with milk coconut-made!
Again, when following the keto diet you need to ensure that you pick up the unsweetened product as one cup of sweetened coconut milk can have 6.8g of net carbs. (*)
One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened coconut milk, on the other hand, contains only 0.6 grams of net carbs per serving. (*)
The only downside of using coconut milk as an alternative is its distinct, sweeter flavor, which takes a little bit of getting used to.
If you’re a fan of a nuttier taste, then you’re going to love this low-carb unsweetened macadamia milk. With less than 2 grams of net carbs per 1 cup, you can be sure that smooth-tasting milk is a wonderful addition to your keto meals.
Other nut milks such as hazelnut and cashew milks also contain only 1g of net carbs in a single serving, making them perfectly keto-friendly and bring you an array of benefits for your health.
With a whopping 12 grams of net carbs in 1 cup, it is evident that regular soy milk is not keto-friendly. Let’s not forget to mention the various detrimental effects that may occur from soy milk discussed above, we believe that soy milk is dirty keto.
The unsweetened variety of soy milk contains negligible net carbs and calories, and so can therefore be incorporated safely into the keto diet without any impact on ketosis.
However, the negative effects of soy milk listed above can still be present in concentrated amounts even in the unsweetened varieties, and so soy milk is not ketogenic-friendly but instead dirty keto.
If you wish to use a milk substitute that will not kick you out of ketosis and provide you with an array of health benefits, we suggest you opt for our favorite, almond milk.