If you’re just starting the ketogenic diet, you may have a few questions as to which of your former-favorite foods are keto-friendly. You may be concerned about dairy on keto — and more specifically, milk. While milk is rich in fats and protein, its highest macronutrient is carbs. One cup of whole milk contains 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 13 grams of carbs[*].
However, if you can’t imagine life without milk in your cereal or coffee, whole dairy milk isn’t the only keto option.
Many people are lactose intolerant, which is why there are numerous dairy-free, vegan milk substitutes lining store shelves. Some options include oat milk, soy milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, pea protein milk, flax milk, and hemp milk. But arguably the most popular alternative to regular milk products is almond milk.
Below, you’ll learn what almond milk is, how many carbs are in almond milk, and whether almond milk is keto-compliant.
Almond milk is a plant-based milk made from — you guessed it — almonds.
You’ve likely seen almond milk in your local grocery store in various forms: sweetened, unsweetened, plain, chocolate, or vanilla. With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, many people prefer this health-conscious milk over regular, whole milk. Unlike cow’s milk, almond milk contains no lactose or cholesterol[*][*].
How to Make Almond Milk
Making almond milk is quite simple. In fact, you can make it in the comfort of your own home. The traditional method includes grinding almonds in a blender with water, then 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, stevia, or other low-carb sweetener.
Before you blend the ingredients together, it’s best to let the almonds soak in water. The longer you let them soak, the creamier the texture will be.
Once you’re satisfied with how long you’ve let the almonds soak, drain your almonds and grab four cups of fresh water. Pour your almonds, fresh water, and stevia or vanilla (if you wish) into a food processor and blend. From there, you can consume it in keto smoothies, a sugar-free, low-carb milkshake, or as a dairy-free milk option in your morning bowl of cereal.
Health Benefits of Almond Milk
When it comes to almond production, the United States is one of the top producing countries, with California producing the vast majority of the crop. In fact, the Golden State produces over 80% of the world’s almonds.
Being made from a highly nutritious nut, you can guarantee this tasty milk isn’t lacking in nutritional value. When it comes to health benefits, almond milk ranks rather high.
Some of the main benefits almond milk include increasing and maintaining healthy weight loss, improving heart health, building strong teeth and bones, helping fight inflammation, preventing heart disease, and even helping to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (thanks to an 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[*].
If you look at the nutrition facts, you’ll see one cup of almond milk (or eight ounces) contains a total of 35 calories including 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein — which is far better than a regular cup of milk[*].
By now, you know that this non-dairy milk can be beneficial to your health, but the real question is — does it fit into the keto diet?
While the macronutrients can differ depending on what kind of almond milk you’re consuming, 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 only be about 3 grams.
If You’re Following the Standard Ketogenic Diet
The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) suggests a daily carb intake of no more than 20 to 50 grams. This is especially important for beginners just starting out on this low-carb diet and ensures adequate depletion of glycogen stores. Once the glycogen stress are depleted, your body will search for fuel from its 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 into ketones or ketone bodies.
If You’re Following the Targeted Ketogenic Diet
Besides the SKD, there are other types of keto diets you can choose. One is called the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD). The TKD is best suited for those who have been keto for a while and know their bodies well. The TKD is better for active people 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 exercise. This would be an ideal time to consume almond milk.
If You’re Following the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) takes keto a step further. The CKD is also meant for those 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 others who train at such high intensities that they simply need a certain amount of carbs to perform at these 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 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. Carb intake could be anywhere from 400 to 600 grams of carbohydrates in order to adequately replenish glycogen stores.
Unless you have a nut allergy, almond milk is a relatively safe option for the ketogenic diet. However, if you’re worried about the carbs in almond milk, hopefully this section will help clear things up.
In a cup of unsweetened almond milk you will consume 35 calories, 1 gram of protein, 2.5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of total carbs[*]. There is no dietary fiber in almond milk, so the net carb count also comes out to 2 grams.
While almond milk does contain some traces of carbs, 2 grams is not enough cause for concern. Therefore, almond milk is perfectly suitable to consume on a low-carb diet.
Almond milk is a popular plant-based milk alternative for those on a low-carb diet. It’s dairy-free, so it’s safe to consume if you’re diagnosed with lactose intolerance. Plus, it’s low in calories, low in carbs, and high in nutritional benefits.
When it comes to almond milk, you can consume it 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.