Is Milk Keto-Friendly?

Author Image

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

Imge of Is Milk Keto-Friendly?



Milk is one of the most popular drinks on the market, and it is one of the largest providers of calcium in our diet. There are a lot of controversies about whether people should still be drinking it or not. Milk does offer several nutritional benefits like high-quality protein and lots of vitamins and minerals. However, is it keto-friendly?

In this article, you will learn everything about milk and following a keto lifestyle. We will dig into the most common topics regarding this common drink. What is it? How many calories does it have, and what is its macronutrient composition? Are you allowed to drink it while on keto, and how much can you have without affecting ketosis? What types can you have? Are other keto-friendly alternatives?


What is milk?

Milk is the liquid produced by female mammals' mammary glands during lactation. It is used to feed their young during early stages of life, and it has all the nutrients the offspring need to grow healthy. It contains carbs, proteins, and fats, along with a good dose of vitamins and minerals as well as certain bioactive compounds which are good for our health.

Thanks to dairy farmers, humans have been drinking milk for several thousands of years. The most common animal milk we consume comes from cows, followed by goats, sheep, or even buffalo. It is also used to make other food products, such as yogurt, cheese, butter, and sour cream. 


Milk nutrition facts

This drink is a very nutritious one. It has high-quality protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids our body needs. It is also high in calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, and potassium.

However, it is also a source of carbs. How many does it have? Is it keto-friendly?

Serving size: 1 cup of whole cow milk (3.25%)

  • Calories: 152 kcal
  • Fat: 8.0 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 11.5 g
  • Total carbs: 11.5 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 8.1 g

As you can see, it is very high in protein. It has almost the same protein content as one large egg. However, it does have a significant amount of carbs. Since it doesn’t contain any fiber, all the carbs it has count toward total net carbs.

So, 1 cup of whole milk gives you 11.5 g of total net carbs.
Its fat content is very high, almost the same as its protein content. This is because it is whole milk. Skim and low-fat varieties, like 1% or 2%, contain less fat (with the same amount of carbs). 


Are you allowed to drink milk on keto?

Yes, you are allowed to drink it on keto, but you have to be very careful with its carb content.

If you are a vegetarian following a keto plan, including it into your diet might benefit you. It adds calcium and vitamin B12. All of these minerals and vitamins can be hard to obtain when you cut back on animal products.


How much milk can you have on a keto diet?

How much you can have depends on your total carb intake for the day.

If you are trying to stay under 25 g of net carbs per day, you can allow yourself to have ¼ of a cup. This would have less than 3 grams of net carbs. Having such a small amount allows you to add other carb sources during the day. 

If you are trying to stay below 50 g of net carbs, 1 cup of milk can easily be incorporated into your keto plan.


What kind of milk can you have on keto?

There are several types, depending on their fat content. That is the only thing that changes; the carbs and the protein content stay pretty much the same.

Since what affects a keto diet is the number of carbs a food has, you can have any type since it only varies in its fat content. The one you choose depends on personal taste and what amount of fat you want to have.

Here is the nutritional content for the different types (per 1 cup of milk):

  • Reduced-fat (2%): 122 kcal | 12 g net carbs | 8.2 g protein | 4.7 g fats
  • Low-fat (1%): 106 kcal | 12.7 g net carbs | 8.3 g protein | 2.3 g fats
  • Fat-free/Skim: 84 kcal | 12.1 g net carbs | 8.4 g protein | 0.2 g fats

You can choose any from the selection above. However, do keep in mind that they all have a carb intake that needs to be accounted for at the end of the day. Milk is not a low-carb drink.

If you are thinking of a flavored option, you can also have them as long as they are sugar-free. Otherwise, you will increase your carb intake, which means you could easily get out of ketosis.


What can you drink with milk?

Since it already adds carbohydrates to your diet, choose something that won’t increase the carb content. 

You can also use it as an ingredient in keto-friendly baking recipes.

You can use it in several drinks that offer additional properties:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Golden milk (made with turmeric)
  • Chai tea
  • Sugar-free hot cocoa

Any of the choices above are excellent to have along with milk. They add lots of flavors, and most importantly, they also add a mix of antioxidants that help decrease inflammation in your body.

Keto-friendly milk alternatives

If you are looking for keto-friendly alternatives to this tasty drink, there are several options that you can have that won’t add so many carbs to your diet.

The following options are great choices to add if you are following a keto lifestyle since they are lower in carbs than regular milk.

  • Plant-based milks: almond, hemp, cashew, soy, pea
  • Half-and-half
  • Cream

On the other hand, certain varieties, like rice and oatmeal milk, have a similar or even higher carb content.


FAQ about milk on a keto diet

If you still have questions regarding this delicious drink and the keto diet, we hope this section helps. Here you find the most commonly asked questions about this drink and keto.

They both have the same carb and protein composition. The only difference is in the fat content.

If you prefer to add healthier fats like nuts or seeds, you could choose the skim version. However, there is nothing wrong with adding the full-fat or “whole” version.

Coconut milk doesn’t have much carbs in it. It is primarily fat, but because of this it is high in calories (much higher than milk) and doesn’t have any protein. Thus, if you are following a keto diet and are limited to a small number of carbs per day, you might want to switch from regular to small amounts of coconut milk.

If you have more carbs available (50 g net per day), then you can usually fit a cup of cow’s milk into your daily plan without altering your results.

Yes! Almond milk is an excellent choice to have on keto.

It is low in calories and carbs. If you are looking to lose weight, the almond version can help you cut down on your calorie intake since 1 cup only has around 40 kcal.

It is an excellent source of calcium. It is recommended to have 1,200 mg of calcium per day. One cup of milk has 306 mg of calcium, representing 25% of the total recommended value for calcium.

Other sources that are high in calcium are yogurt, cheese, green leafy vegetables, soy beverages, and fortified foods.

You can definitely put some into your coffee. It provides a creaminess that some people like. However, do keep in mind that it does contain some carbs, which means that you need to measure your portions and subtract them from your total carb intake.

Here’s a look at the number of grams of net carbs and calories per 1 cup for each type of milk:

Type of milk 
(1 cup)
Net carbs (g) Fat (g) Protein (g) Calories (kcal)
Cow (whole) 11.5 8 8.1 152
Goat 10.9 10.1 8.7 168
Sheep 13.1 17.2 14.7 265



Dairy options to have on the ketogenic diet