Coconut Milk vs. Almond Milk on a Keto Diet

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Approximately 65% of the population is said to be lactose intolerant. This means that you might have a problem with digesting dairy. With that in mind, it is no wonder why people are searching for a non-dairy alternative like coconut or almond milk to put into their coffee. However, which is better on keto?

In this article, we’ll break down the differences between these two popular plant-based beverages. Learn the nutritional differences between them; how they vary in cost, flavor, and texture; and when to use each one. Finally, you’ll see which is better to use when doing a ketogenic diet.


Coconut milk vs. almond milk nutrition

You can compare the nutritional information based on 1 cup (244 grams) of each product in the following table.

Nutrients Coconut milk (1 cup) Almond milk (1 cup)
Energy 445 kcal 37 kcal
Fat 48.1 g 2.3 g
Protein 4.6 g 1 g
Net carbs 6.4 g 2.7 g
Total carbs 6.4 g 3.2 g
Fiber 0 g 0.5 g


To sum up the nutritional differences, coconut milk has more calories, more fat, more protein, and more net carbs than almond milk.

However, even though it has more carbs, it is still a good option for those on a keto diet since it only contains 6.4 g of net carbs per 1 cup (or 3.2 g carbs per 1/2 cup). This is a minimal intake that won't affect your ketosis. Remember that you still need to be aware of what your keto macros are and count each carb toward your daily intake to ensure that you don't consume more than you need.

If you want to add some protein to your ketogenic diet, this is not the beverage to add. Opt for a protein shake with any of these to increase the protein content.

Regarding the micronutrient content, they both have almost the same amount of calcium (around 450 mg per cup). However, almond milk has more potassium and sodium compared to coconut milk.


Differences between coconut milk and almond milk

Besides having a different nutritional content, they also differ in their flavor, texture, and cost.

The coconut kind has a coconut flavor (surprise!), and it also has a thicker, creamier texture. On the other hand, almond milk has a nuttier flavor and a more watery texture. One of the benefits of almond milk is that it pairs nicely with different flavors. That is why it is more likely to see chocolate or vanilla versions of this plant-based beverage.

Finally, the costs also are very different. It depends on the brands, but coconut is generally more expensive than almond milk.


When to use almond or coconut milk

Now, you might wonder when you can use each of them. Are they interchangeable?

When using it in beverages, like adding it to shakes or coffee, you can use the same amount of either one as you would regular milk. 

For swapping out dairy in recipes, keep in mind that almond milk is similar in consistency to milk, while coconut milk is more like heavy cream. 

Almond milk is good for baking, smoothies, and keto pancakes.

Coconut milk tends to do well in curries, creamy sauces, and soups. It’s also good for smoothies with a thicker consistency.

Can you substitute almond for coconut milk and vice versa?

Yes, but it will affect the flavor and texture. Almond milk is much more watery, so you may need to use a smaller amount of coconut milk and/or dilute it with water. If you’re substituting coconut milk with almond, you may want to use a lesser amount, add a keto-friendly thickener like xanthan gum or almond flour, or simmer to reduce.


Which one is better for keto, almond or coconut milk?

They are both great options when it comes to keto because they are low in carbs. It all depends on how you want to use them, the flavor you’re looking for, and if the calorie content is something that matters to you.

If you have a very low carb intake and want to save as many calories as possible, almond is probably the way to go. However, coconut would be your choice if you want a dairy replacement that gives you that creaminess while doing keto but without the extra carbs that the dairy options provide.

One significant advantage that coconut has is its fat content. It has small amounts of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). These are a type of fats that are absorbed quickly into your bloodstream. They go directly into your liver to be processed, providing fast-acting energy. This ultimately means that your ketones are raised.


Final thoughts

Either one of these options can be an excellent choice for making a lactose-free and keto-friendly beverage or recipe. They make an excellent substitution for dairy. Whether it is almond for a nuttier flavor or coconut for a more creamy approach, you can use any one of them when it comes to a ketogenic diet. Just check the label to make sure that they are unsweetened.