What was better as a kid than pouring a tall glass of milk to dunk your cookies in? Many of us grew up on milk. In fact, most newborn mammals depend on their mother’s milkfor survival and adequate nutrients.
While mammals have always been biologically capable of producing milk, it wasn’t until around 10,000 B.C. that the domestication of certain animals started to occur — leading to increased use of milk for humans.
What is Milk?
As history would have it, milk became somewhat of a prized treasure.
In ancient Egypt, milk was reserved for only the wealthiest of individuals. Cows and sheep were sacred, making them prized possessions due to their milk producing capabilities. However, it wasn’t until the early 1600’s that European cows were brought over to be distributed in America.
The first pasteurization tests in 1862 were conducted by Louis Pasteur, a microbiologist who created this process to ensure the safety of milk and made it possible to distribute and store milk once it left the farm.
Grass-fed dairy cows are the cows you want to be getting milk from. They are able to graze on their natural diets and be in a comfortable setting. Once the cows udder is full, she is ready to be milked.
The Processing of Milk
Once the milk is taken from the cow, it is transported directly to a refrigerated vat or silo and kept there for no more than 48 hours. They’re kept cooler than 39 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure there’s no separation of milkfat from the mik. From here, the milk is transported to factory sites before processing.
Prior to collection, samples of the milk are taken and tested to ensure all the levels of milk fat, protein bulk milk cell and bacteria are all of superior quality. The processing of the milk begins with pasteurization. All this means in that the milk is heated up to a certain temperature for a particular amount of time and then gets cooled again.
Once pasteurized, the milk goes through a process called homogenization. This process involves sifting the raw milk through an atomizer so that the fat is dispersed evenly throughout the milk. Otherwise, the fat would float and sit on the top of the container. This is similar to how ghee would be developed — except with butter.
Then comes the separation process. This is where the content of the cream and milk is manipulated to create different kinds of milk. To produce whole milk, the cream is reintroduced to the milk until the fat is content reaches about three to four percent. For low fat milk, it’s reintroduced until one percent. When it comes to skim milk, or nonfat milk, the cream is reintroduced until it’s only at about a half of a percent.
Now that we know the processing of milk, let’s talk nutritional value.
Whole milk, the milk that has the most fat in it, has some amazing health benefits but sits around 12 grams of net carbs, eight grams of fat and and eight grams of protein per one, eight ounce serving (or about one cup).
So, does whole milk fit into a low carb or ketogenic diet?
How (And When) Does Milk Fit Into a Low Carb Diet?
Dairy is acceptable on the ketogenic diet, but you have to be careful.
While one cup of whole milk won’t harm you (or kick you out of ketosis), it is a bit higher in carbohydrate content than preferred for those on a low carb or ketogenic diet. This could easily be fit into the dreaded hidden carbs that you may forget to factor into your keto macronutrient goals for the day.
However, one cup of milk can pack some pretty spectacular health benefits.
Whole Milk is Rich in Vitamins and Minerals Including:
Calcium is most often associated with bone health. However, it plays many other roles as well. Recent research studies have shown it may even be capable of protecting against heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure, but can also be taken in supplement form or consumed in certain foods such as milk. Vitamin D has been shown to improve bone health, improve the health of the immune system, regulate insulin levels and improve cardiovascular health.
Did you know that phosphorus is the second richest element in the body? It makes up a whole percent of our system. With this being said, there’s no doubt that it’s an essential mineral that is responsible for hundreds of different cellular activities.
Behind phosphorus, potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It’s partner in crime (or health rather) is sodium, both working together in the sodium-potassium pump to support and increase optimal cell function[*].
Vitamin A is a key antioxidant offering a number of different benefits to different systems throughout the body. It’s number one role is helping fight inflammation — which has been shown to be the root cause for many chronic diseases out there today.
Some of the top benefits of vitamin B12 include it’s roles in improving both brain and heart health. It doesn’t just increase cognitive function — but it helps to form the protective covering of the myelin. It’s safe to say that if you are deficient in vitamin B12, your cognitive abilities could potentially take a major blow.
While whole milk packs all these benefits and more, it still raises the question, is it possible to have on a low carb diet?
When Should Milk Be Avoided in the Low Carb Diet?
Not to say that you can’t have milk at all on certain types of keto diets, but just be cautious of your carb intake when you do have it. Besides being on a low carb diet, another reason you may want to avoid cows milk is if you’re lactose intolerant.
What does it mean to be lactose intolerant?
While some people experience it differently and can suffer worse than others, lactose intolerance is a condition in which people have digestive issues including bloating, cramping, nausea, gas, etc. in response to ingesting dairy products.
Otherwise, if you still digest dairy fine but simply want to start a low carb or ketogenic diet, there could be a few options for you. Some types of keto diets (including the targeted keto diet and the cyclical keto diet) have optional times of allowed increased carbohydrate intake in order to fuel and recover from harder exercise.
The targeted keto diet (TKD) is meant for more active individuals that need more carbs anywhere from an hour before and an hour after their workout. The cyclical keto diet (CKD), on the other hand, allows for up to two full days of carb loading to completely refuel your glycogen stores. The CKD allows for 2 high carb days with the other five days following a standard ketogenic diet.
However, the CKD is only recommended for athletes or bodybuilders that perform extremely intense workouts, otherwise your glycogen levels won’t end up being depleted and you won’t be able to maintain ketosis.
So Is Milk Low Carb Friendly?
Milk should not be the first thing to choose if you are looking for a low carb friendly drink. If you’re really craving some milk, there are some great low carb milk substitutes out there that can satisfy your craving without going over your carb intake. If you do want whole, cows milk, it’s best to have it only if you are following the TKD or CKD or if you know your carb intake for the day was going to be around 25-50 grams.
Whole milk is not low carb friendly.