Is Coconut Milk Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Bridget Nalwoga, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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The discussion of which milk is best on keto is an ongoing one. Some people continue to use dairy and dairy products on keto, while others cut many of them out, leaving only high-fat ones like butter.

For those who choose to do away with dairy, the decision of which milk to go with can be a challenging one to answer. Most people choose plant-based alternatives.

One of the most popular replacements for dairy on low-carb diets is coconut milk. But is it even keto-friendly?

Read this article to find out if you can have coconut milk on keto. We will also look at how much you can have, what type is best, and other keto-friendly alternatives if it is not for you.

 

What is coconut milk?

Coconut milk is the liquid derived from shredding and straining the meat of a mature coconut’s meat. It is naturally white in color with a “coconutty” flavor that is slightly sweet and creamy.

It is available in stores almost everywhere in the world, but you can also easily make it at home.

It is believed to have originated from the Southern parts of Asia and along the East African coast.


Coconut milk nutrition facts

Coconut milk is fairly low in protein and carbs but very high in fat. Over 90% of the calories present are from fat and less than 10% from carbs and protein combined.

Serving size: 1 cup. Equal to about 226 g.

  • Energy: 445 kcal
  • Fat: 48.1 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 6.4 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Total carbs: 6.4 g
  • Protein: 4.6 g

Milk from coconuts has a very special nutrient composition due to the type of fat present in it. Unlike most plants, coconuts have a significant percentage of their fat as saturated fat. Other plant sources of fat, like nuts and seeds, have more of their fats as unsaturated fats.

What makes coconuts even more unique is the type of saturated fat they contain. While up to 65% of this saturated fat is in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), only 17% of that are true MCTs that can assist in a keto diet. 

As you may already know, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel because of how easy they are to burn for energy. People on ketogenic diets may sometimes have a problem with intense exercise because they do not consume enough carbs.

This is where MCTs come in. Like carbs, MCTs are able to generate energy for the body quickly (in the form of ketone). This is what makes MCTs especially important for those following a ketogenic diet.


JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS


Can you have coconut milk on keto?

Yes, you can.

It is low in carbs, giving only 6.4 g of net carbs per cup. What makes it even better is the rich fat content. Not only is it high in fat, but it also provides some MCTs, which are especially important for keto.

In addition to providing energy, MCTs also provide other benefits like regulating appetite, promoting ketosis, and improving the blood lipid profile.

The beverage also provides a number of micronutrients including manganese and magnesium.

Note that only whole plain versions are truly keto-friendly. Store-bought versions may contain other ingredients like sugar and preservatives that may make them non-keto.

 

How much coconut milk can you have on keto?

You can have up to a cup on keto without worrying about getting out of ketosis.

If your daily carb limit is 50 g, 1 cup would provide about 13% of your daily carbs. This may seem conservative, but this food is just a single ingredient, not a meal on its own. You will most likely need to eat something else with it, and that will probably add more carbs.

Even if your carb limit is lower at 30 g, you can still get away with a full cup per day. However, if your limit is lower than 30 g, you may want to limit your daily allowance to half a cup or less.


What kind of coconut milk is good for keto?

  • Full-fat. This type has not had any of the fat naturally present removed. It is very keto-friendly as it is low in carbs and high in fat.
  • Reduced-fat. This is still keto-approved, but it has most of its fat removed. In most cases, it is to reduce the calorie content. Watch out for starches and thickeners used to restore flavor after removing the fat.
  • Sweetened. This is a no-go on keto as it contains added sugar.
  • Powder. Drying concentrates the carbs in any food. It is best to stay away from this type on a low-carb diet.

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN


What can you have coconut milk with?

The first and most popular way to use coconut milk on keto is as a dairy substitute. You can use it in place of dairy for breakfast “cereals” (low-carb ones of course), in baking recipes, or to make yogurt.

Other dishes you can use this delicious liquid in include:

  • Soups
  • Casseroles
  • Curries
  • Smoothies
  • Dressings
  • Cakes

 

Coconut milk substitutes on a ketogenic diet

The coconutty flavor is not for everyone. Some people really love it, while others strongly dislike it. If you are part of the latter group, don’t fret, there are still plenty of low-carb options for you.

The most obvious low-carb substitutes for coconut milk are other types of plant milks like:

 

FAQs on coconut milk on the ketogenic diet

Have any more questions? Keep reading as we answer some of them.

Yes, it does.

First, it is low in carbs, which is an important requirement for reaching ketosis. Secondly, it is rich in fat, which is burned to release energy and ketone bodies. Finally, it contains some MCTs that promote faster ketosis.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (160 g) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender.
  2. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add more water if you want the mixture thinner or more coconut if you want it thicker and creamier.
  4. Blend again to mix.
  5. Pour the mixture through a strainer and allow it to strain.
  6. After straining, refrigerate for later or use immediately.
     

For most people, almond milk is the best option for low-carb diets. It is low in carbs (3.4 g of net carbs per cup), very affordable, and has a neutral taste that goes with most dishes.

Yes, it is. Even though it is calorie-dense, you can still have it on a weight loss diet. This is because it is very filling due to its high-fat content. If you are on a calorie-restricted diet, you can opt for fat-reduced versions, but beware of additives.

No, even though sugar from coconuts is slightly more slowly absorbed, it is still sugar and can kick you out of ketosis if used.

Yes, you can enjoy coconut yogurt on keto without worrying about getting out of ketosis. However, always check the label for added sugars in store-bought brands.

 

Other keto-compliant drinks

  • Coconut water
  • Coffee
  • Kombucha