Is Sour Cream Keto-Friendly?

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

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Imagine taking a crunchy and delicious keto chip and dipping it in the freshest, most velvety dip available. Most of the time, these types of dips are made either with sour cream. 

Or imagine that tasty taco lettuce wrap with a dollop of the rich and tangy good stuff on top. 

You might be wondering, is it too good to be true? Is sour cream keto-friendly?

This delicious and versatile food is easy to use in all sorts of recipes. Add it as a topping to a savory dish, or even add it to your baking for extra creaminess. It will be one of the products to look out for when implementing a keto lifestyle.

This article will answer the most common question regarding this beloved food: Is it safe to eat on keto, its carb content, what types can you have, how much of it can you eat, and some other keto alternatives.

 

What is sour cream?

There are several ways to make this food. The first method is by taking cream and adding some fermenting bacteria for thickening purposes. The bacteria produces lactic acid, which causes the mix to thicken. This process is called souring, thus its common name. Another way you can make it is by adding an acid. Sometimes lemon juice or vinegar is added.

However, now you can find low-fat versions. Usually, sour cream is made from milk that has at least 18% milkfat. Sometimes store-bought brands have added thickeners (high in carbs) to create the same texture as the regular version.

Although it comes from the dairy family, nutritionally speaking it’s quite different. Yogurt and milk have a different macronutrient composition.

Is sour cream healthy? 

Yes, it is considered a healthy food, but it should be eaten in moderation due to its high calorie and saturated fat content. 

Although you may feel inclined to reach for a light or low-fat version (darn you, flashy labeling!), full fat is best, especially for keto. Not only because you want to increase your fat intake for keto to keep you feeling fuller for longer, but also because the light products may have added carbs. Also, the original tastes better!

 

Nutritional content of sour cream

This food is rich in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. Let’s take a look at the macro amounts, keeping in mind that they may vary depending on the brand and type you buy.

Serving size: 1 cup (230 g) of regular sour cream

  • Calories: 455 Kcal
  • Fat: 44.6 g
  • Net carbs: 10.6 g 
  • Total carbs: 10.6 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 5.6 g

The amount of carbohydrates in sour cream is low at 10.6 g of net carbs per cup. 

And when’s the last time you had a whole cup? This food is usually used as a garnish or ingredient, so you’re probably only eating a few tablespoons, ¼ cup, or ½ cup at most.

Wondering how the light version measures up? Here’s the nutritional information.

Serving size: 1 cup (230 g) of light sour cream

  • Calories: 313 Kcal
  • Fat: 24.4 g
  • Net carbs: 6.3 g
  • Total carbs: 16.3 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 8.1 g

 

JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS


Can you have sour cream on keto?

Yes, you can eat it on a keto diet. But you must control your portion size, count the carbs, and be aware of the calories.

Although it is a keto-safe food, remember that it is still high in calories and saturated fat. A high intake of saturated fats has been linked to heart problems. So it’s not something you should be eating every day.

When deciding between full fat and reduced fat for dairy products on keto, have a look at the label and think about what else you will be eating in the meal. Avoid reduced fat products with fillers that may add extra carbs, but if the only difference is the fat content, choosing a reduced fat version can be healthful. Replacing saturated fat (like dairy fat) with unsaturated fat (like plant fat) can be good for your heart.


Amount of sour cream allowed on a keto diet

The amount will depend on your personal situation. Since it is a low-carb food, its carb content won’t usually be a problem for keto. However, if you’re aiming to lose weight, you should be aware that it is a high-calorie food, which may jeopardize your goal. For you to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than your body needs.

If your main goal is to lose weight, a good portion size could be measured in tablespoons instead of cups. 2 tablespoons of regular sour cream has 48 calories, 1.2 g of net carbs, 0.6 g of protein, and 4.6 g of fat.

Since this food is high in saturated fat, you don’t want to eat it on a regular basis. Make sure to incorporate other healthier fats into your diet more often. Remember that a good and healthy diet will offer different foods for having different nutrients.

 

Best sour cream to use on keto

Just because it is keto-friendly, it does not mean that you can add any type. The type and the brand could be adding carbs to your daily intake without you even knowing it. There are three main versions:

  • Full-fat.
  • Reduced fat or light.
  • Fat-free.

Whichever version you choose, read the label to make sure that it has no added carbs. 

Different brands may have a slight variation in the macros their products offer. Here is a list of the most common brands and their nutritional content.

  • Knudsen. For a 30 g portion, it will have 1 g of net carbs, 6 g of fat, and 1 g of protein.
  • Daisy. For a 30 g portion, it will have 1 g of net carbs, 5 g of fat, and 1 g of protein.
  • Breakstone’s. For a 30 g portion, it will have 1 g of net carbs, 5 g of fat, and 1g of protein.
  • Tillamook. For a 30 g portion, it will have 2 g of net carbs, 5 g of fat, and 2 g of protein.

Most of the brands have a similar carbs content. Whichever brand you choose will be appropriate to include on a keto diet. 

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN


Ways to use sour cream on the ketogenic diet

When thinking of this food, the first thing that often comes into mind is on top of a recently baked potato. However, potatoes are high in carbs, which will not be allowed on a low-carb plan. Here is a list of other ways to use sour cream on keto.

  • Dips. The most popular way of using this ingredient is a base for a dip. Try making an onion dip or even a blue cheese dressing. Have it plain with celery sticks or keto-friendly chips.
  • Baking. Try it as a substitute for milk. It will provide a creaminess to the recipe.
  • Sauces. Mix it up with a chicken breast, some spices, cheese, salt, and pepper. Place it in the oven, and you will have a delicious meal in minutes. 
  • Pancakes. For an extra spongy texture, add some to your favorite keto-friendly pancakes (usually made with almond flour).
  • Eggs. Deviled eggs or an omelet? Increase the fat content and get some extra yum!
  • Mashed cauliflower. Instead of butter, try adding some for a different flavor and velvety texture.

 

Is there a ketogenic substitute for sour cream?

Knowing that you can eat it without jeopardizing your ketosis state can make you want to incorporate it daily. However, a healthy diet will have a variety of foods, each with different macros and nutrients. Adding too many saturated fats to your diet could potentially bring heart problems.


Here are some other keto alternatives to sour cream that could decrease your daily intake of saturated fats.

  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Cream cheese 
  • Buttermilk

Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are high in protein. Crème Fraîche and cream cheese have a similar macronutrient composition to sour cream. They are high-fat and low-carb. Buttermilk, on the other hand, will be low in fat but will have more carbs. In 100 g of product, you find 4.9 g of net carbs.

For a homemade alternative to sour cream, add cottage cheese into a food processor. Add some water until you have the consistency you like. This will be a low-fat and high-protein substitute. 

For a dairy-free keto sour cream substitute, try using natural coconut yogurt or putting some soaked cashews in a blender until you get a creamy consistency.

 

Questions about sour cream on a ketogenic diet

You may still have some questions about this delicious creamy food and its relationship to a keto lifestyle. Here are the answers to some of the most common.

The glycemic index (GI) of sour cream is low due to its high fat content. Using it as a condiment can help reduce the glycemic index of high-carb foods. For example, a baked potato (not keto) will have a lower glycemic index if you add some sour cream. But its carb count will remain the same, so this doesn't make it more keto-friendly.

Using the full-fat version will add creaminess to your desserts. Use it in a recipe instead of milk. Not only will it offer fewer carbs to the dessert, but it will also make it richer. You can also try adding it to a cheesecake. It will make this popular dessert a lot fluffier and extra yummy.

Mexican crema has a similar nutritional composition as regular sour cream. It is high in fats and low in carbohydrates, which makes it perfect for a low-carb diet. For 30 g of Mexican crema, you can find 2 g of net carbs and 5 g of fat. Add it to those Mexican-inspired dishes for some extra flavor, or to tone down the spiciness!

You can use both in a keto diet. However, sour cream has more carbs than butter. Make sure to count the carbs if you decide to use it as a substitute. Even though it’s pretty low, every gram counts.

Usually yes, but it will depend on the brand and type. Make sure to read the nutrition label to check the number of net carbs it has.

Cream cheese has more calories, more fat, more protein, and more carbs (per cup). Which one you use will depend on what you want to use it for.


However, both of them can be suitable for a keto-friendly diet, as long as you control how much you eat and count the number of carbs.