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Milk verses Mylk on keto and low carb

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“Can I drink milk on keto” is right up there on some of the most commonly asked questions… the short answer really depends on you and the type of keto that you’re doing.

Clean keto. No milk is not considered ‘allowed’.

Dirty keto. It depends on your daily macros and if lactose agrees with you.

Where are the carbs in milk?

Most of the carbs in cows milk come from a sugar called lactose. It is made up of two simple sugars, glucose and galactose, and is called a disaccharide. Small amounts of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides may also be present as carbs in milk, but lactose is the main one.

Full cream, Australian cow’s milk contains about 15g of carbs per serving (250mL). It also have about 9g of fat and protein for the serving size. Given the scenario most people talk about is milk in their coffee… being a little more pragmatic than a full cup of milk in a coffee, you would be looking at about 1.5g of carb for a tablespoon.

Cow’s milk is also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and other essential nutrients. I think most kids growing up in Australia were told to drink their milk for strong bones. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend two to three servings of diary a day based on providing adequate calcium intake for bone health…

I think cows milk is a personal choice on keto and low carb ways of eating and comes down to why you’re on your journey.

“But you shouldn’t drink milk because it’s inflammatory”

Well that’s a different conversation to it being keto… but it comes up often as another reason to not drink milk on low inflammatory diets and low carb eating.

Cows milk is not inherently inflammatory for everyone. Some people can experience inflammation or discomfort after consuming milk due to a few reasons.

  • Lactose Intolerance: Some people lack the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Consuming milk when lactase is deficient can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, which may be perceived as inflammatory.
  • Milk Allergy: Milk allergy is a condition in which the immune system reacts abnormally to proteins found in milk, such as casein or whey. This immune response can lead to inflammation in the body, resulting in symptoms ranging from hives and digestive issues to more severe reactions like anaphylaxis.
  • Hormones and Growth Factors: Milk naturally contains hormones and growth factors, which are necessary for calf growth but may have effects on human health. Some people may be sensitive to these hormones which may contribute to inflammation or other health issues.
  • Sensitivity to Milk Proteins: Some people may be sensitive to specific proteins found in milk, A1 beta-casein or whey protein. These proteins may trigger an inflammatory response with symptoms such as bloating, joint pain, or skin issues.

Isn’t A2 milk better for you?

A2 milk hit the market in the early 2000s. There’s still research being done to determine if A2 milk is “better” than regular milk. The marketers say A2 milk only has the A2 beta-casein protein making it easier to digest than regular milk which has both A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins. But there isn’t a lot of strong scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Personally, I’ve never noticed the difference given A2 milk has the same amount of lactose as regular milk. Being sensitive to lactose, I still notice the normal signs of being bloated etc. I also know it can trigger a flare up of my GORD if I have too much lactose.

What about keto milk?

Keto milk is another fun one. Some people claim the only keto milk are plant based milks and others make ‘keto’ milk using thickened cream and water.

Keto milk made on cream is not strictly lactose free because cream does contain small amounts of lactose (just in much smaller quantities than milk or yoghurt). I tend to tolerate it better than milk but I got out of the habit of drinking milk as a kid… and honestly if I want cream, I want cream. Not a watered down version of it.

I have used a cows cream ‘keto’ milk to make coffee and cappuccinos for friends (because there’s never actual cows milk in my fridge). It froths up nicely like regular milk and no one tends to notice the difference. It also works well in baking.

Cream is no longer cream

This is enough to piss off the Pope. Even buying cream can turn into a mission with the additives…

  • 🙂 Woolworths Thickened Cream ($4.50 for 600mL) contains gelatin (from beef). Gelatin itself is a protein and contains all nine essential amino acids and is particularly high in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Some studies also show that gelatin may have benefits like supporting gut health, promoting satiety, and potentially reducing inflammation. Gelatin is also a source of collagen which is fabulous for our overworked nervous systems. Per 100mL, macro wise it’s 3.4g carb; 35.60g fat (35% milk fat) and 2.3g protein.
  • 🙂 Woolworths Light Thickened Cream 600ml ($4.50 for 600mL) is vegetarian with Skimmed Milk, Cream (Milk), Thickeners (Carrageenan, Guar Gum); it contains 18% Milk Fat. As a rule of thumb I don’t buy ‘light’ dairy. Being keto and low carb, I want the fat content. And I also don’t want the typically added sugar that comes with the light versions of dairy. The macros for this work out 3.4g carb; 35.60g fat (35% milk fat) and 2.3g protein per 100mL.
  • 🙂 Coles Thickened Cream ($4.50 for 600mL) is also vegetarian being pasteurised cream and thickeners (407 [carrageenan], 412 [Guar Gum]). The macros for this work out 3.1g carb; 35g fat (35% milk fat) and 2.1g protein per 100mL.
  • 🙂 Bulla Thickened Cream ($5.35 for 600ml) is also vegetarian containing milk, and thickeners (Carrageenan, Guar Gum); it contains 35% Milk Fat. Per 100mL, macro wise it’s 2.9g carb; 35.60g fat (35% milk fat) and 2.3g protein.
  • 🙁 Bulla Cooking Cream ($3.70 for 300mL) is reduce fat cream, thickeners, emulsifier and mineral salts. 472e is diacetyltartaric and fatty acid esters of glycerol (sugar alcohol), in case you were interested. Thickener 1422 is acetylated distarch adipate is a modified starch and more specifically a bulking agent. Personally I’ve never understood the need for cooking cream. Yes it doesn’t split but neither does cream if you’re patient.
  • 🙂 Dairy Farmers Pure Cream ($5.50 for 500ml) is just pasteurised pure cream. Per 100mL, macro wise it’s 3.1g carb; 35g fat (35% milk fat) and 2.1g protein. Their thickened cream contains mineral salts and thickener 400 which is alginate, a natural polysaccharide derived from seaweed.

BUT not all plant based milks are keto either!

When you start reading nutrition panels on the back of products, you quickly realise that something being plant based doesn’t make it better for you. The sad fact is that a large number of plant based milk alternative contain a huge amount of crap that we shouldn’t be eating anyway and the sugar content blows out macros with a single serve.

Is almond milk keto friendly?

Yes but it depends heavily on the brand! Here’s the run down on a few of them.

  • 🙁 Australia’s Own Unsweetened Almond Milk ($2.30 for 1L) contains sunflower oil… like why?! Aside from the fact it has sunflower oil, it also only contains 3% almond… put it back on the shelf
  • 🙂 J*st Milk Almond ($3.00 for 1L)‘s marketing says it all really, we shouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes reading labels to work out if it’s almond milk. Well this is just almond milk (6%) and is 0.4g carb per 100g 🙂
  • 🙁 Pureharvest Organic Almond ($3.60 for 1L) contains rice syrup (sweetener) which then bumps it to 5.9g carb per 100g. Their blend does contain 10% almonds which are organic and activated.
  • 😐 So Good High Protein Almond ($3.40 for 1L) contains ground almonds (4%), soy protein (3.5%), mineral (calcium), vegetable gum (gellan), antioxidant (ascorbic acid), vitamins (B12, B2, B1). The soy protein bumps to the protein to 10g per serving with 0.3g carb per 100g. Gellen is vegetarian and from the fermentation of a sugar source by the bacteria Sphingomonas elodea.
  • 😐 Vitasoy Prebiotic Almond Milk ($2.30 for 1L) whole almonds (min. 3.8%), prebiotic fibre (chicory root fibre), mineral (calcium phosphate), emulsifier (sunflower lecithin), sea salt, natural flavour, vegetable gum (gellan).

Is coconut milk keto friendly?

Again, yes but depends heavily on the brand. Coconut milk also tends to have an amazingly infuriating number of additivities to it depending on the brand. It is my preferred plant-based milk.

Coconut cream vs coconut milk: Coconut cream is thicker and richer and has a higher fat content from more coconut solids, while coconut milk is thinner and lighter and lower fat content. You can use cream in place of milk. But recipes calling for cream need the cream and milk isn’t always a suitable substitute. Coconut cream is tinned and generally with the Asian ingredients. You can get coconut milk tinned or in 1L cartons with the long life milk.

  • 🙂 Woolworths Essentials Coconut Milk [tinned] ($0.95 for 400ml) contains Coconut Extract (50%), Water, Thickener (Guar Gum)
  • 🙂 Ayam Coconut Milk [tinned] (3.90 for 400ml) contains Coconut Kernel Extract (89%), Water
  • 🙂 Australia’s Own Unsweetened Coconut Milk [carton] ($3.20 for 1l) contains Australian water, organic coconut cream (min 7.5%), salt, vegetable gums (locust bean gum, sodium alginate, guar gum).
  • 😐 Macro Organic Coconut Milk Unsweetened [carton] ($2.20 for 1l) contains Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Milk (12%), Organic Brown Rice, Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt. This bumps the carbs up to 6.6g/100mL.
  • 🙂 Coles Unsweetened Coconut Milk [carton] ($2.00 for 1L) contains Water, Coconut Cream (8%), Sea Salt, Vegetable Gums (Locust Bean Gum, Sodium Alginate, Guar Gum).

There are a number of other brands available. It is important to read the labels because the other brands to contain additives that I prefer to avoid and push up the carb content with no other nutritional benefits. It’s also worth nothing that most of the coconut products are sourced from Vietnam and Thailand. Even Coles saying theirs in “Made in Australia from at least 92% Australian ingredients”, the 8% coconut cream will most likely to have been sourced from south east Asia.

Is oat milk keto friendly?

While oat milk can be keto friendly, it is not inherently gluten-free, as oats naturally contain a protein called avenin, which is similar to gluten. When looking at if something it keto, the base ingredients are considered as well as the carb content (<5g/100g). Oats as a whole tend to be higher in carbs. It’s a choice and will depend on your individual macros profile.

  • 🙁 Vitasoy Prebiotic Oat Milk 1l $2.30) contains filtered water, whole oats (min. 15%), prebiotic fibre (chicory root fibre), oat flour, sunflower oil, mineral (calcium phosphate), sea salt. Per 100mL, macro wise it’s 11.7g carb; 2g fat (35% milk fat) and 1g protein.
  • 🙁 Australia’s Own Barista Oat Milk ($4.50 for 1L) contains Australian Water, Australian oats (10%), vegetable oil (canola or sunflower), acidity regulators (dipotassium phosphate), mineral (calcium), salt. Per 100mL, macro wise it’s 8g carb; 2.8g fat and 0.6g protein.
  • 🙂 Macro Organic Oat Milk Unsweetened ($2.20 for 1L) Filtered Water, Organic Oats (14%), Mineral Salt (Calcium Carbonate) Sea Salt. Per 100mL, macro wise it’s 8.3g carb; <1g fat and 1.5g protein.
  • 🙁 Coles Organic Unsweetened Oat Milk ($2.25 for 1L) contains Filtered Water, Organic Oats (15%), Organic Sunflower Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt.

Is hemp milk keto friendly?

I’ve started using hemp milk a bit more in that last year. The taste profile is not for everyone. It’s got a bit of a grassy, nutty flavour to it. But I find it works well in baking and smoothies.

I haven’t seen it readily available in the supermarkets. But it is fairly quick and easy to make. Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds blitz with a high powdered blender and filtered. While nut bags are handy, I tend to just strain it with a clean Chux.

Nutritionally, it’s fabulous. Hemp contains all nine essential amino acids and is comparatively high in protein compared to other plant-based milks. It is is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which promote brain function and reducing inflammation. Hemp is also a good source of B vitamins and Vitamin E.

Disclaimer: No Spoons to Cook is based on our own experience and research, and what we know works best for us. It is not medical advice. Our recipes focus on low inflammatory ingredients, whole foods and are founded in ketogenic and low carb ways of eating. We encourage spoonies to stay curious, ask questions, do your own research, listen to your body and to work with a Registered Dietitian or Medical Professional when appropriate to tailor your nutritional needs to support your care plan and goals.

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