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Is milk Keto? The truth about carbs in milk, cheese, yogurt

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Carine Claudepierre - December 3, 2020
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The Ketogenic diet is all about reducing the intake of carbs, and some dairy products are perfect for helping you achieve your keto goals, but some will do quite the opposite.

Use this simple guide to learn which dairy product is keto-friendly and which will take you out of ketosis!

Carbs in Dairy Products

Dairy is everywhere. You would be surprised how many store-bought products contain some dairy. But on a keto diet, not all dairy products can support your weight loss.

So if you want to lose weight on a ketogenic diet, or if you are a keto beginner, read this article to learn which dairy products can keep your carbs within your macros!

What are dairy products?

Dairy products are all the products made from animal milk. The most common animal used to produce milk are cows, goats, sheep, or buffalo.

Dairy products encompass anything primarily based on animal milk and include milk, butter, cream, yogurt, cheese, custard, or ice cream.

The per-capita consumption of dairy products in the US was 653 pounds per year in 2019. This amounts to about 1.7 pounds per day per person.

In comparison, China has a per-capita consumption of only 50 pounds per year!

Note: Eggs are not a dairy product! The very definition of dairy excludes them because they are not a milk product.

Is dairy keto? Well, there’s no simple answer to that question, so read on to learn all the details!

Is milk keto? How many carbs in milk?

All animal milk are relatively similar in their composition. They are mostly made of water (70% to 90%), lactose (a disaccharide, a carbohydrate molecule containing glucose and galactose), fat, protein, various vitamins and minerals, and a few enzymes.

Because of their high concentration of carbs, no animal milk is really keto-friendly unless taken in minimal quantities.

Which milk is keto?

The table below shows the net carbs content for most common dairy milk per cup (240ml). Almond milk is added for comparison:

Type of milkCarbsFatProteinCalories
Regular Cow Milk11.4g7.8g8g146 kcal
Reduced Fat (2%) Cow Milk11.9g4.6g8.2g122 kcal
Low Fat (1)% Cow Milk12.7g2.3g8.3g105 kcal
Skim Cow Milk11.9g0.2g8.4g83 kcal
Lactose-Free Cow Milk11.4g7.8g8g146 kcal
Sheep Milk13.1g17.2g14.7g265 kcal
Buffalo Milk12.6g16.8g9.2g237 kcal
Goat Milk10.9g10.1g8.7g168 kcal

All data comes from the FoodCentral database.

This table shows that all animal kinds of milk have a very similar net carbs content between 10 grams and 13 grams per cup. For comparison, one cup of almond milk has only 2.7 grams of net carbs.

As a result, if you are following the keto diet, you would have to stop using cow milk, sheep milk, goat milk, and even buffalo milk in your recipes.

Even lactose-free milk isn’t keto-friendly, because lactose-free milk does not have fewer carbs. it just has its lactose – which can trigger intolerance – broken down into galactose and glucose.

This is why so many of my keto recipes use plant-based milk alternatives instead,  like Almond Milk or Coconut Milk, but make sure to buy unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk!

Is cream keto? How many carbs in cream?

The definition of cream varies from country to country but they are all made by skimming the fat layer from the top of milk.

Some countries like France have 10 different official varieties of cream based on fat content and production method. In the US, there are 5 varieties based on the fat content of the cream.

From Half and Half (between 10% and 18% fat) to Manufacturer’s Cream (over 40% fat), but Heavy Cream is the most common high-fat cream available.

Carbs in Cream

The table below summarizes the net carbs per 100 grams of cream.

Type of CreamNet CarbsFatProteinCalories
Half and Half Cream4.3g11.5g3.1g131 kcal
Light Cream3.7g19.1g3g195 kcal
Whipping Cream3g31g2.2g292 kcal
Heavy Cream2.8g36g2.8g340 kcal
Whipped Cream12.5g22.2g3.2g257 kcal
Sour Cream4.6g19.3g2.4g198 kcal

All data comes from the FoodCentral database.

As you can see, apart from Whipped Cream that has added sugar, all creams are relatively keto-friendly. Plus, remember that cream is generally taken in relatively small amounts.

Note that grocery-store-bought Whipped Cream is not the same as Heavy Whipping Cream. The former is made with the latter, but most of the time with sugar.

My favorite recipes with cream are:

Keto green bean casserole with cream cheese
Keto green bean casserole
4.74 from 144 votes
A delicious keto holiday casserole with crunchy green beans, creamy mushroom sauce and crispy onions
7.2g
Check out this recipe
Keto Banana Pudding
Keto banana pudding
4.83 from 95 votes
A delicious creamy pudding with banana flavor and only 1 gram of net carbs per serving. Gluten-free, dairy-free option.
0.9g
Check out this recipe

Is yogurt keto? How many carbs in yogurt?

Yogurt, also spelled yoghurt, yogourt, yoghourt comes from the fermentation of milk. The word yogurt is borrowed from the Turkish language where it means to be curdled.

The following table shows the net carbs in various types of yogurt per 100 grams:

Type og yogurtNet CarbsFatProteinCalories
Plain Yogurt11.8g1.1g3.7g72 kcal
Nonfat Greek Yogurt3.6g0.4g10.3g59 kcal
Low-fat Greek Yogurt3.9g1.9g9.9g73 kcal
Whole-milk Greek Yogurt4g5g9g97 kcal

All data comes from the FoodCentral database.

If all varieties of plain Greek yogurt have an acceptable quantity of carbs, plain yogurt has way too much sugar to be keto-friendly.

Bear in mind that there are as many types of yogurt as brands producing them, so make sure to always read their nutrition label to check their carbs!

I tend to avoid Yogurt that I substitute for a dairy-free alternative like coconut yogurt.

Is cheese keto? How many carbs in cheese?

Cheese is made by coagulation of casein, one of the milk proteins.  There are literally thousands of varieties of cheese including more than 1,600 in France, 1,800 in the United Kingdom, and 500 in Italy.

The major categories of cheese are:

  • Fresh cheese: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Cottage Cheese, Feta
  • Soft White Rind Cheese: Camembert, Brie, Chaource, Munster
  • Semi-soft Cheese: Edam, Reblochon, Raclette, Havarti, Provolone, Emmental, Swiss Cheese
  • Hard Cheese: Cheddar, Beaufort, Gruyere, Parmesan, Mimolette, Colby
  • Blue Cheese: Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola, Roquefort
  • Flavor added-cheese: Cumin Gouda, Chive Cheddar, Dill Havarti

Most cheese varieties are relatively low in carb because the natural bacteria in cheese break down the lactose. The secondary reason is that cheese is made from the fatty, heavy layer on top of the milk.

As a result, most of the carbs that were present in the milk either stay in the milk or are broken down later.

Find below the most comprehensive list of carbs in cheese! The data is per once (24g) of cheese.

CheeseCarbsFatProteinSource
American Cheese2.5g6.5g4.6g[source]
Applewood0g8g7g[source]
Babybel0g8.1g6.7g[source]
Blue Cheese0.6g8.2g6.1g[source]
Boursin Garlic & Herb1.2g9.9g2.5g[source]
Boursin Light Garlic & Herb1.3g4.5g2.6g[source]
Brie0.1g7.8g5.9g[source]
Brie Danish 0g7g5g[source]
Brie French 0g6g5g[source]
Brie Truffle 0.9g9.4g4.7g[source]
Burrata0g7g5g[source]
Camembert1g8g5g[source]
Cheddar0.7g9.6g6.6g[source]
Cheddar Burger Slice1g9g7g[source]
Cheddar Medium 1.3g10.3g6.4g[source]
Cheese Curd1g8g7g[source]
Cheshire Cheese1.4g8.7g6.6g[source]
Colby Cheese0.7g9.1g6.7g[source]
Colby Jack Cheese0.5g8.8g6.8g[source]
Cottage Cheese1.9g0.1g2.9g[source]
Cream Cheese1.6g9.8g1.7g[source]
Cream Cheese Light2.4g4.6g2.4g[source]
Double Gloucester0g10g7g[source]
Edam Cheese0.4g8.1g7.1g[source]
Emmentaler (Swiss Cheese)0.4g8.8g7.7g[source]
Feta Cheese1.1g6.1g4g[source]
Fior di Latte (Cow Mozzarella)0.7g6.3g6.3g[source]
Fondue Saint Nectaire Cheese0g8g6g[source]
Fontina0.4g8.8g7.3g[source]
Fresh Goat Cheese0g8.5g6.1g[source]
Gorgonzola0g9g6g[source]
Gouda Cheese0.6g7.8g7.1g[source]
Grana Padano0g8g9g[source]
Gruyere0.1g9.2g8.5g[source]
Halloumi0g6.8g5.7g[source]
Havarti1g9g6g[source]
Limburger0.1g7.7g5.7g[source]
Mascarpone1g12g1g[source]
Mimolette0g8g10g[source]
Monterey Jack0.2g5.6g6.9g[source]
Mozzarella di Bufala (Buffalo)0g5.7g3.8g[source]
Mozzarella di Capra (goat)0g8g7g[source]
Munster0.3g8.5g6.6g[source]
Neufchatel1g6.5g2.6g[source]
Parmesan0.9g7.1g10.1g[source]
Pecorino Romano1g9g8g[source]
Pepper Jack1g8g7g[source]
Philadelphia Spread1.8g6.4g1.8g[source]
Pimento0.5g8.8g6.3g[source]
Provolone0.6g7.5g7.3g[source]
Queso Asadero1.2g7g6.3g[source]
Queso Cotija1.1g8.5g5.7g[source]
Queso Fresco0.8g6.8g5.1g[source]
Queso Manchego1g10g7g[source]
Raclette0g8g6g[source]
Red Leicester0g9g7g[source]
Ricotta1.7g2.7g2.7g[source]
Romano1g7.6g9g[source]
Roquefort0.6g8.7g6.1g[source]
Shredded Cheddar6g7g0g[source]
Shredded Pizza Blend2g6g7g[source]
Stilton Cheese1g10g7g[source]
Taleggio0g7g5g[source]
Velveeta2.7g6.2g4.6g[source]

As you can see, most cheese varieties are keto-friendly.

However, there are two important things to note:

  • Shredded Cheese often has added starch, to keep it from compacting, upping its carbs quite a lot.
  • Despite being low in carbs, some cheeses should still not be included in a keto diet, because of their relatively low fat to protein ratio. Remember that what matters is your macros!

My favorite cheese-based recipes are:

Parmesan cheese crackers
Keto cheese cracker recipe
4.8 from 96 votes
Keto parmesan crackers, perfect as a snack or appetizer
0.6g
Check out this recipe
soft taco shell low carb spinach taco shells
low carb taco shells
4.86 from 102 votes
Soft Low carb spinach taco shells makes a delicious replacement to regular tacos.
1.1g
Check out this recipe

Is butter keto? How many carbs in butter

Butter is made from the fatty portion of milk called butterfat. In fact, you can make your own butter from cream (or even milk) by churning it.

Since it is made from a very fat compound, butter is quite keto-friendly.

It normally has no carbs, quite a lot of fat, and almost no protein. This is why it is added to Bulletproof Coffee or Tea since the absence of carbs keeps you fasting!

There are a few kinds of butter. The table below summarizes their nutrient content. The data is in grams of carbs per once (24g) of butter.

Type of ButterNet CarbsFatProtein
Regular Butter0g22.90.1g
Light Butter0g15.4g0.9g
Clarified Butter (ghee)0g24g0.3g

Conclusion

Not all dairy products are your friends on a keto diet.

Cheese is generally fine, butter is keto-friendly. Some yogurts are good in low quantity and most creams are fine.

But milk needs to be avoided to reach all your keto goals!

Are there any other dairy products that you avoid on a keto diet? Comment below to share with everyone!

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    2 comments
  1. Hi! What are your thoughts on the “Ultra” versions of milk? Two I know of are Fairlife and Organic Valley. They both claim 6 grams total sugar per cup. Thanks!

    • Hi Tina,
      I have never tried these! From the looks of it, they seem to be ok-ish. They are still quite a bit higher in carbs than plan-based options.
      But as always what matters in keto is the total quantity, so as long as you adapt your servings to their content it’s fine.

      Just a note that the Fairlife Ultra is quite low in fat and high in protein. Even their whole milk has only 8g of fat for 6g of carbs and 13g of protein per cup.
      Given that on Keto, you are aiming at a 5% Carbs, 75% Fat and 25% Fat macros, you might struggle to reach your macros with that much protein and that low fat.

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