If you’re just starting the ketogenic diet, you might find that the easiest way to transition to this low carb, high fat diet is to simply find low carb substitutes to their favorite high carb foods.
One category you may be concerned with is dairy on keto — and more specifically, milk. While milk is rich in fats and protein, it’s highest macronutrient is actually carbs. One cup of whole milk contains nine grams of fat, nine grams of protein and twelve grams of carbs.
However, whole milk from dairy cows isn’t the only option for milk out there today.
As many individuals are intolerant to dairy, there is quite the variety of options one can choose from when looking for a milk substitute. Some substitutes to this popular dairy product include almond milk, coconut milk, pea protein milk, flax milk and hemp milk. One of the more common milk substitutes we see in the store today is almond milk.
Almond milk is one of the top plant-based milk products out in stores today, but what are the factors that contribute to its increased popularity over the years?
What is Almond Milk?
Almond milk is a plant-based milk made from one of the top nuts consumed by Americans today — almonds.
You’ve most likely seen it in your local grocery store including it’s optional flavors of sweetened, unsweetened, plain, chocolate or vanilla flavors. With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, many individuals prefer this health conscious milk over regular, whole milk. Unlike dairy-based milk, almond milk contains no lactose or cholesterol.
The production of almond milk is quite a simple process. In fact, you can even make it in the comfort of your own home. The traditional method includes grinding almonds in a blender with water, straining out the almond pulp with a strainer at the end.
If you’re interested in making your own almond milk, you’ll need a few key ingredients including one cup of raw, organic almonds and at least four cups of purified water. For extra sweetness you can add vanilla extract and stevia.
Before you blend the ingredients together, it’s best to let the almonds soak in the water. The longer you let the almonds soak in the water, the creamier the texture will be. Once you’re satisfied with how long you’ve let the almonds soak, drain the almonds and grab four cups of new water. Then mix the ingredients in a powerful blender.
When it comes to the production of almonds, the United States is one of the top producing countries. California specifically is one of the top producing regions in the country of this tasty nut. In fact, the Golden State produces over 80 percent of the worlds almonds.
Being made from a highly nutritious nut, you can guarantee this tasty milk isn’t lacking any nutritional value. When it comes to health benefits, almond milk ranks rather high. Some of the main benefits almond milk offers includes increasing and maintaining healthy weight loss, improving heart health, building strong teeth and bones, helping fight inflammation and may even help slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease due to its abundance of vitamin E.
Along with vitamin E, almond milk provides several other key vitamins and minerals. This plant-based milk is loaded with vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. One cup (or eight ounces) of unsweetened almond milk contains a total of 40 calories including three grams of fat, two grams of carbs, one gram of fiber, one gram of net carbs and one gram of protein.
By now we know that almond milk can be extremely beneficial for your health, but the real question is — does it fit into the ketogenic diet?
How and When Does Almond Milk Fit Into a Ketogenic Diet
While the macronutrients can differ depending on what kind of almond milk you’re consuming (unsweetened, sweetened, chocolate or vanilla), unsweetened almond milk is low enough in net carbs that you can have a cup or two without much concern. Even if you were to indulge in this creamy milk or needed two or three cups for a particular recipe, your net carb count would still be about only three grams.
The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) has basic guidelines of a daily carb intake of no more than 20 to 50 grams, and often times much less. This is especially important for beginners just starting out on this low carb diet. This is to ensure adequate depletion of glycogen stores. Once the glycogen stress are depleted, your body will search for fuel from it’s second favored energy source — fat.
This leads you to enter a state of ketosis. Instead of your body converting glucose for energy, your liver will instead convert fatty acids in your body into ketones or ketone bodies.
When Should Almond Milk Be Avoided on a Keto Diet?
Besides having a nut allergy, almond milk is a relatively safe often for the ketogenic diet. However, if there is cause for serious concern about the amount of carbs found in almond milk, there are still opportunities in which you can indulge in this creamy drink without any cause for alarm. For example, if you’re following the SKD but you’re already pushing it with your daily carb macros, you have some options.
Besides the SKD, there’s a few other types of keto diets you can choose from. One is called the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD). The TKD is best suited for individuals who have been following the ketogenic diet for a while and know their bodies well. The TKD is better for active individuals who need a little extra workout energy. This includes the consumption of 20 to 50 grams of net carbs up to an hour or after the exercise. This would be an ideal time to consume almond milk.
The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) takes it a step further. The CKD is also meant for individuals who have been following the SKD for a while and are familiar with how their bodies react to different energy sources. The CKD is meant for athletes, bodybuilders and other individuals that train at such high intensities that they simply need a certain amount of carbs to perform at high levels.
The CKD follows a traditional SKD for around five or six days a week, with a day or two of carb backloading. This means that their daily macronutrients will still be high fat, moderate protein and low carb for the majority of the week with a day or two of a high carb, low fat intake. Their carb intake could be anywhere from 400 to 600 grams of carbohydrates in order to adequately replenish their glycogen stores.
So Is Almond Milk Keto Friendly?
When it comes to almond milk, you can consume this plant-based milk without any stress that you may be going over your daily carb intake. For unsweetened almond milk, you can safely consume a cup of this creamy drink all while maintaining ketosis and improving your health at the same time. You can consume almond milk in moderate intake on the SKD or:
- If you are following the TKD and consume it before or after exercise.
- If you are following the CKD and you’re consuming it on a carb backloading day.
- Your carb intake for the day including the almond milk does not exceed 20 to 50 grams of carbs.
Almond milk is keto friendly.