Milk doesn’t always come up on the lists of keto-approved dairy products. It’s because of milk’s high carbohydrate content and its ability to cause digestive problems in many individuals.
However, the question “Is almond milk keto-friendly?” continues to pop out every time keto and milk are discussed. After all, almond milk is a more tummy-friendly option than conventional dairy milk for many dieters.
Could almond milk be an exemption to the dairy products not included in the ketogenic diet? We’ll look into this matter in this article.
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Dairy Milk and the Ketogenic Diet
Before we proceed to check if almond milk is suitable for keto dieters, let’s first look at dairy milk in general.
Why does the ketogenic diet frown upon dairy milk? Here are the two main reasons:
- Dairy milk is carb-rich.
Milk is generally not allowed in a ketogenic diet because it is the main source of carbohydrates (1).
Remember that a ketogenic diet limits carbohydrate intake to 20 grams of net carbs daily at most, coming from all meals you’ll eat in a day. Now, a cup of dairy milk usually gives you approximately 13 grams of net carbohydrates. That’s already a high amount of net carbs to consume, only from a single cup of milk!
- Dairy milk may cause upset stomach problems.
Lactose is the main carbohydrate found in milk (2). It is the sugar that gives milk its mildly sweet taste. It is also the culprit of upset stomach problems for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.
Lactose intolerance is a condition wherein the human body cannot digest the lactose content found in milk and similar dairy products. The small intestine fails to produce the enzyme lactase, which is supposed to help break down lactose into a digestible form.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include the following (3):
- Pain in the abdomen
- Abdominal distention
- Loud gurgling sounds in the abdomen (borborygmi)
- Bloating and gas
Most people can digest lactose since birth, but this ability is lost in almost 75% of the worldwide population at some point in adulthood (4). Hence, several adult people across the globe present as lactose intolerants, making milk consumption unfit for them.
Now, dairy milk’s inherently high carbohydrate content and its ability to cause stomach problems for several lactose-intolerant people make it highly unfit to be included in a ketogenic diet.
Almond Milk – The Go-To Substitute?
Dairy milk is a rich source of several key nutrients such as calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and magnesium (5). How are you going to get all these nutrients if you’re not supposed to drink dairy milk on a keto diet?
Almond milk is one of the best plant-derived alternatives to dairy milk for your daily nutritional needs. While not all nutritional profiles for almond milk are the same (6), it generally contains a fair amount of protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, fat, and vitamins A, E, and D.
Almond milk is packed with other nutrients apart from essential vitamins and minerals. It has an antioxidant called alpha-tocopherol, which plays a critical part in protecting cells from oxidative damage. It also contains arabinose, a sugar that helps strengthen the gut due to its prebiotic properties (7).
Plant-based milk, such as almond milk, is lighter on the stomach as well, making it an excellent alternative for people who are intolerant to dairy milk.
There is literally no reason not to consider replacing dairy milk with almond milk in your diet plans.
Is Almond Milk Keto Friendly?
Almond milk does have lots of nutrients up for grabs. It’s an excellent substitute for dairy milk on a regular diet plan.
But the main question now: Is it approved for the ketogenic diet? To see if almond milk fits the bill, let’s take a look at its net carb content.
The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) calls for a daily net carb intake of 20-50 grams, sometimes even less. A cup of unsweetened almond milk only contains 1 gram of net carbs (8). That means you can safely indulge in a cup or two of almond milk without going overboard on your carbohydrate intake.
Hence, almond milk is definitely keto-approved.
Even if a recipe calls for two to three cups of almond milk, you can go ahead and indulge because that only gives you 2-3 grams of net carbs. Nothing to worry about, especially if you observe proper portioning of net carbs on other foods you’re eating.
Almond milk is also ideal for dieters because it only contains 40 calories per serving. Also, it has 1 gram of protein, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of fiber. A cup of almond milk even fulfills 2% of iron intake, 10 % of vitamin A intake, and 20% of the recommended calcium intake.
See all those fantastic nutrients you can derive from almond milk? The best part is that the net carbs content is low enough for it to perfectly fit into a ketogenic diet!
Benefits of Almond Milk on a Ketogenic Diet
Unless you have a nut allergy, consuming almond milk in moderation is totally fine in a ketogenic diet. Here are some of the health benefits you’ll get from, including almond milk to your ketogenic food rotation:
- It keeps blood sugar levels steady.
Unsweetened almond milk is a beverage that’s low in carbs and high in protein and fat. This nutrient proportion is ideal for people with diabetes since it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes, and it lowers insulin resistance (9).
- It lowers the risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that regular consumption of nut and nut-based products, such as almond milk, reduces the risk of heart illnesses such as coronary heart disease and heart attacks (10).
Almond milk contains a high level of vitamin E, which is known to have protective effects on the heart (11).
Almond milk is also a good source of mono and polyunsaturated fats (12). These good fats counter the effects of unhealthy fats in the body.
- It protects cells from damage.
Antioxidants protect and repair cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
Almond milk contains alpha-tocopherol, a powerful antioxidant that repairs damaged cells and plays a primary role in regulating genes and cell signals (13).
- It keeps the gut healthy and strong.
Almond milk contains a unique sugar called arabinose. It is a non-caloric fiber that may help strengthen the digestive tract because of its prebiotic properties (14). Prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, strengthening its walls and making it less susceptible to diseases.
With all these health benefits, keto dieters like you will surely want to add almond milk to their keto-approved beverages list. Apart from managing your weight well, you’ll also become holistically healthy when you add almond milk to your ketogenic diet plan.
How to Fit Almond Milk on a Ketogenic Diet
While almond milk is generally safe for keto-dieters, there are certain considerations to keep in mind when trying to incorporate this nutritious beverage to your keto meal plans:
- Not all types of almond milk are created the same. You’ll find stores laden with several kinds of commercially-produced almond milk. There are plain types, sweetened varieties, and flavored almond milk in either vanilla or chocolate.
Hence, avoid consuming sweetened and flavor-filled almond milk varieties. They are typically loaded with added sugars, which also add up to the macronutrient content of the milk, making it quite unsuitable for the ketogenic diet.
- Almond milk is an excellent alternative for lactose-intolerant individuals. However, stay away from this milk if you also have nut allergies. You may not be directly consuming nuts, but this beverage is directly derived from the nuts and may consequently trigger an allergic reaction for you.
- Ensure that you are taking good tabs on your net carbs intake while on a ketogenic diet. Not doing so may make you overindulge in almond milk since it’s got so little net carbs in it. You might be pushing well beyond your carb limits if you do not take everything in moderation, including almond milk.
- Unsweetened almond milk is your best bet for the ketogenic diet. Lots of commercially-produced almond milk has unsweetened options, so opt for them instead. They’re creamy and tasty and would work well for you if you’re craving a flavorful milk alternative.
Making Your Own Almond Milk
You can make your own homemade unsweetened almond milk. It’s a healthier option than those commercially-prepared milk from the store shelves. You can be sure of the freshness and quality of homemade almond milk because you made it yourself!
Here’s a quick and easy step-by-step recipe for making your own unsweetened almond milk:
Prepare the following ingredients, equipment, and materials:
- A cup of raw almonds (preferably organic)
- Enough water for soaking almonds
- 4 cups of cold water for blending
- A blender
- A nut-milk bag or several layers of cheesecloth for straining
Follow these steps:
- Soak raw almonds in water overnight. You may also soak the almonds for 4 hours only if you’re in a hurry. If you’re in such a rush, the last alternative is to soak them in hot water for 1-2 hours.
- Take out the almonds from the water after the soaking time is finished. Drain and rinse them.
- Place rinsed almonds in your blender. Add 4 cups of fresh cold water as well.
- Blend them on high for around 2 minutes. Make sure it becomes smooth and creamy in texture.
- Extract the milk by straining the mixture on a nut-milk bag or through several cheesecloth layers.
- Save the milk on an airtight container and refrigerate.
Your unsweetened almond milk is now ready to use! It can last for three days inside the fridge, but it’s best to consume it fresh.
If you want a sweeter version of the milk, you may add some stevia, honey, a little vanilla extract, or a pinch of salt. Keep in mind that the additional ingredients may increase your almond milk’s carb count, so keep your additives in moderation.
The Takeaway: Is Almond Milk Keto-Approved?
Almond milk is an amazing plant-based alternative to dairy milk.
It might not be as nutrient-dense as milk derived from animals, but it surely packs a healthy punch with its mix of essential vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Almond milk is a treasure trove of health benefits:
- It stabilizes blood sugar levels.
- It keeps the heart and guts healthy.
- It promotes cell repair and protects from further damage.
The definite answer to the burning question of “Is almond milk keto approved?” is a big yes! Moderate intake of almond milk does not raise net carb content too much in a keto diet.
Reap the benefits of milk without resorting to dairy by including almond milk to your keto diet, and see your entire health and well-being improve in no time.