In this article we will endeavor to unpack the nutritional science around a favorite plant-based drink, oat milk. Our journey through this oaty ocean will leave you with the information you need and enable you to know how and when to incorporate this drink into your keto diet. Read on.
In a world where we are surrounded by a plethora of food choices, the dairy-free milk alternatives are no exception. This liquid is just one of them. Like many other drinks of this ilk, it is relatively simple to make at home and also widely available in stores.
The process simply involves soaking oats in water, blending the mixture together, and then sifting out any remaining solids, leaving a white, creamy oat-y drink for you to enjoy.
Commercially prepared products sometimes have a small amount of vegetable oil added to increase fat content and improve texture. Other flavorings as well as salt, sweeteners, and vitamin and mineral mixes may also be incorporated during production.
With regards to taste, it has a nutty and rich flavor. Plain, additive-free varieties do retain a noticeable oat-like taste.
Serving size: 1 cup (240 ml)
As with many niche and new foods on the market, there is simply insufficient data for products such as this one to be incorporated into the national databases to give us an average picture of nutritional values.
Consequently, we need to instead consult the nutrition labels attached to specific branded products to paint the picture for us.
The data above is one example, but has its limitations as may not truly be reflective as an average of all oat milks. This particular brand was chosen as it has no added sugar and seems to be the basic product with some added sea salt, vegetable oil, and vitamins and minerals.
As you can see straight away, the net carb figure for 1 cup of this drink is quite high, coming in at just over 14 g of net carbs. However, it’s lower than some other oat-based products, like oatmeal. Its lipid or fat profile is moderate but surprisingly high for a plant-based product. It also has a little protein.
As it has a vitamin and mineral mix added, it more closely resembles the nutrient profile of cow’s milk, with added calcium, potassium and Vitamin B12.
Let’s analyze a couple of the vitamin and mineral scores and compare them to the RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) for men and women between the ages of 19 and 50.
|In 1 cup of oat milk||As a % of RDA|
|Calcium||1,000 mg per day||350 mg||35%|
|Vitamin B12||2.4 mcg per day||1.2 mcg||50%|
As you can see in the table, this beverage is an excellent albeit fortified source of these nutrients as well as others such as potassium, vitamin D, and iron.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient of which very few foods are good sources. While popularly known as the sunshine vitamin, people living in northern latitudes hardly make any Vitamin D in their skin for many months of the year. It is important for bone health, muscle strength, and even the proper functioning of your immune system (to name a few). So it is vital that we get in enough every day.
The initial reaction is wow, this plant-based milk is really quite high in carbs. Nevertheless, as this is such a nutrient-rich liquid, let’s not write it off just yet.
If you really enjoy this, depriving you of it could mean you get less essential nutrients, and this could lead to you not meeting your daily requirements.
That being the case it may be possible to enjoy this drink on keto, but in very small amounts.
A 240 ml (1 cup) serving is pretty big, to be honest. On average, you’re probably using between 90-120 ml of milk for a coffee or a bowl of low-carb cereal. If you drank just 120 ml (or ½ cup), that would bring net carbs down to around 7 g.
While still not super low in carbohydrates, it is certainly acceptable to incorporate this drink in a mindful and planned keto diet regime. Accountability and portion control is really key. This way you can still drink what you love, get those vital nutrients, and still not breach your carb ceiling.
All kinds of varieties are available out there including, sweetened, unsweetened, chocolate flavored, vanilla flavored, and the list goes on. The most important thing to look out for in the nutrition label is total carbohydrates per serving. Then deduct from that figure the fiber content so you have an accurate picture of the total net carb load.
If the figures are in line with what we have above, i.e. 7 g per 120 ml serving, then it is okay to incorporate into your diet in a moderate and self-controlled way.
As each brand will vary, using this advice will ensure you make the correct decision every time.
For those of you with lactose intolerance issues, this can be used as a substitute for milk or cream in your coffee. It can also be used in recipes for baking instead of milk, in pancake batters and of course with cereal.
Find more information about this creamy beverage by clicking each question in the section below.
Now that’s an interesting one. It has long been known that beta glucans in oats have health promoting effects. Beta glucans are a type of soluble fiber found in cereals such as barley and oats. Their positive effects include blood sugar regulation and cholesterol reduction.
The answer to this question in fact is that yes, not only do oats themselves contain this fiber but even the liquid does too. It is estimated that a 240 ml serving can contain up to 1.2 g of this fiber.
The oat flavor is quite pronounced, especially in unsweetened and unflavored varieties, so as you can expect it’s not for everyone. However, there are flavored and sweetened brands available, but just make sure to check the net carbs value in those.
Yes! Although soy milk trumps all others as being the least expensive plant milk, it's still quite affordable and available anywhere.
Plain oat milk has slightly more carbohydrates than cow’s, whether whole, skim, or low-fat. Cow milks usually have between 11 and 13 grams of net carbs per cup, while this drink has around 14 (this may vary depending on the brand).
This drink has the most carbohydrates of any plain plant milk. However, this may change when compared to sweetened and flavored versions (for example, chocolate or vanilla) of products from different plants.