Here's my guide to low carb milk alternatives, including carbohydrate counts and best uses! A handy list for anyone starting a keto or low carb diet.
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When you starting out low carbing – there are SO many changes to make. I mentioned a lot of substitutions for every day ingredients in my 28+ Low Carb Hacks article – so you might want to check that out too!
A cup of cow's milk contains 11-12g net carbs, regardless of whether it is whole milk, 1% etc. With many people trying to stay under 20g of carbohydrates per day – it just isn't possible to drink very much of it, so it's best to look for other options.
The first thing that I should mention is that it really depends what you're using milk for. Because you wouldn't necessarily use the same alternative for a shake as you would do a soup.
Which milk has the least carbs?
- Unsweetened almond milk (0g net carbs per cup) My favorite brand is Silk, but Almond Breeze is also good.
- Unsweetened coconut milk (1g net carbs per cup)
- Unsweetened cashew milk (1-2g net carbs per cup) – buy it from Amazon!
- Unsweetened soy milk (0-4g net carbs per cup)
- Unsweetened macadamia milk (0-1g net carbs per cup) – buy it from Netrition!
- Unsweetened flax milk (1g net carbs per cup)
- Unsweetened hemp milk (1g net carbs per cup) – buy it from Amazon!
- Heavy cream (7g net carbs per fluid cup)
- Heavy cream and water mix (net carbs depend on ratio)
- Water (0g net carbs per cup)
- Low Carb Milk Mix* (1g net carbs per cup) – just add heavy cream and water to the powdered mix. It's high in protein (17g per cup) and low in carbs (1g per cup). I tried it a few years ago and while it didn't taste exactly like cow's milk, it was a reasonable alternative. Look out for the $1 sample bags if you want to try it!
- Stock or broth (0-1g net carbs per cup)
You'll notice that the emphasis is on unsweetened! Always choose these varieties and add sweetness yourself if necessary. When I started low-carbing nearly ten years ago, the only low carb milk alternative was soy milk – and I'm personally not a fan. These days I always have unsweetened almond milk (I like the Silk brand with a light vanilla flavor) and heavy cream in the fridge – and one or both of these substitutes covers me for most uses!
Water might seem like an odd alternative but when you need to add bulk and liquid to a sauce, it can work! Oh, and just in case you're looking for condensed milk, check out this low carb condensed milk recipe from All Day I Dream About Food!
How you use these substitutes is really a matter of personal preference. For example, some people like almond milk in their coffee or tea – for others it doesn't work at all!
Do you have a favorite low carb milk alternative? Let me know in the comments!
Almond milk photo from FreeRange Stock