If you are already following the ketogenic diet, then you already know that it involves reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing high carb foods with healthy complex carbs and fats. This puts your body (or keeps it) in a state of ketosis, and by doing this you are making your body more efficient in converting your stored fats into energy.
So you have probably already minimized, or completely eliminated your bread and grain intake, and many other high carbohydrate foods already. However, although you may now be living with fewer carbohydrates in your diet, you may be wondering about milk and dairy products. After all, they are made up of protein and fat, but are they allowed on the ketogenic diet?
Can You Add Milk or Dairy to Your Diet?
Dairy is a classification of food that includes not only milk, but also products such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter. A cup of milk will not kick you out of ketosis, however, on average it contains 12g of carbohydrate content. Therefore, you will want to keep a keen eye on how that impacts your daily carb intake so you don't blow your allowance. You might want to work out or review your foods for the day and see if your calculations can include a cup of milk or not.
In other words, you have to be careful! If your carb allowance is 20g you can see how just 2 cups of milk in a day can wreck your well-laid diet plans.
However, milk is very nutritious as it contains fat, minerals, protein, water, essential amino acids and vitamins. You just have to remember it also contains the keto dieter's nemesis, carbohydrate.
Have You Tried Milk Substitutes?
The key to maintaining your keto diet even if you love milk is to choose milk with the lowest carbohydrate content. You may have to opt for 'milk alternatives'. This may not be what you are wanting to hear, especially if you are a dairy lover, but perhaps it's time to consider that option. Among the best choices according to the USDA database are:
Flax Milk - This milk is high in vitamins and omega-3s, and contains only one gram of carbohydrate and zero sugar. It is nut-free which is also a good alternative if you have allergies. It is, however, more expensive.
Coconut Milk - This is a creamy milk with only one gram of carbohydrate and contain lots of vitamin C and E. It has a high content of saturated fat, and no sugar. It is also safe for those with nut allergies and is ideal for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.
Hemp Milk - This milk is sourced from the Cannabis Sativa L plant and is high in omega-3 fatty acids and all the amino acids essential for health. It has one gram of carbohydrates and zero sugar content. It is also expensive, compared to other low-carbohydrate milk substitutes.
Cashew Milk - This is perhaps the creamiest and thickest milk substitute. It has a high fat content, and this helps ward off cravings and hunger. It also contains more calcium than other milk alternatives.
Almond Milk - This is the closest you can get to cow's milk. It has less carbohydrates at only two grams, contains more calcium and is a good substitute that you can use, not just as a drink, but also for making ice cream, or smoothies.
Other Dairy Products
You can follow a keto diet and still eat a few dairy products in moderation! Otherwise opt for dairy substitutes with low carbohydrate content.
Here are a few examples:
Heavy Cream - Heavy or pure cream is a byproduct in the process of making milk and contains only 7g of carbs per cup, compared to 12g in the same volume of milk. So you may like to add a big fat dollop of cream to your coffee instead. Just remember it is high in calories, if you are watching your caloric intake too.
Cheese - Yes, you can eat cheese. There are many suitable, as cheese is high in fat and many contain almost no carbs at all.
Yogurt - Choose yogurt with low carbohydrate content, such as Greek Yogurt.
Now that you are aware of what milk and dairy can do for you while on your ketogenic diet, it is up to you how much or how little you consume. You don't have to go without, so it is allowed, but with any foods, it's all about moderation. Choosing and eating your foods in moderation is the key.