Not sure if you can consume dairy products on the keto diet?

Well, we’ve got good news for all you dairy lovers out there. Yes, you can eat dairy while following a ketogenic diet.

Before you go crazy with cheese, there are a few things you should keep in mind. After all, not all dairy products are created equal.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Is dairy keto friendly?
  • How much dairy can you eat on the ketogenic diet?
  • What are the best types of dairy for a keto diet?
  • What dairy products should you stay away from on the keto diet?
  • Can keto improve lactose intolerance?

Is Dairy Keto Friendly?

While most dairy products can be considered keto friendly, there are some products higher in carbs than others.

If you’re following a standard ketogenic diet (SKD), the amount of net carbs you’ll be able to eat each day will be limited to 20-50 grams (and oftentimes much less). If you’re consuming a dairy product high in net carbs, it could stop you from maintaining ketosis.

For example,

  • one cup (8 ounces of whole, pasteurized milk) contains 148 calories
  • including five grams of fat
  • 12 grams of net carbs
  • 8 grams of protein

As you can imagine, having a couple glasses of milk could be enough to kick you out a ketogenic state.

How Much Dairy Can You Consume on Keto?

Sure, most dairy is keto friendly. Does that mean you should binge on the next cheese platter you see?

No.

In fact, one of the biggest mistakes individuals new to the keto diet make is that they fail to track their calories. Just because you’ve cut carbs out of your diet does not mean you can eat as much fat as you want.

Using a keto macro calculator is an important tool to help you keep track of your macronutrients, especially when you’re trying to alter your metabolism to use fat for fuel instead of carbs.

What Are the Best Types of Dairy for the Keto Diet?

When it comes to what kind of dairy you can eat on a keto diet, some types are better than others. Some of the best dairy products for the keto diet include:

  • Certain cheeses
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Ghee Butter
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Sour cream
  • Greek yogurt

Grass-fed butter is used in the majority of keto baking recipes you see today and ghee is another great dairy product that is abundant in healthy fats. So what about cheese?

Cheese

Cheese is usually a safe bet when it comes to keto. But it’s important to note that all cheeses are different. Cheeses that are typically less than 1 gram of net carbs per 1 oz include:

  • Goat cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Brie cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Gouda cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Feta cheese

If you’re a cheese lover looking to add more into your keto food list, make sure you’re tracking it correctly and not overdoing it.

Grass-Fed Butter

Grass-fed butter is another common dairy product seen in all different kinds of keto friendly recipes. While butter is made from cream, most of the lactose that was in the starting cream is almost completely left behind in the transition to its butter form.

One tablespoon of grass-fed butter contains:

  • 100 calories
  • 12 grams of fat
  • zero grams of carbs
  • zero grams of protein

Ghee

Before we get into the actual benefits of ghee, let’s talk about what it is in the first place.

Ghee is technically clarified butter.

You can make it yourself by melting grass-fed butter in a pan on the stove. Doing so removes the water and milk solids from the butter, leaving you with pure butterfat. Once you allow the butterfat to caramelize, that is considered ghee.

Ghee is a bit higher in fat than grass-fed butter, containing:

  • 14 grams of fat in comparison to butters 12 grams
  • Ghee also contains about 13 percent more MCTs than butter

Fats (like ghee and coconut oil) that are abundant in MCTs are key components to a keto diet as they boost energy, cognitive function and help you maintain a ketogenic state.

Heavy Whipping Cream

Missing that creamer in your morning coffee? Heavy whipping cream is a great substitute for your morning latte. Abundant in healthy fats, heavy whipping cream can be used to replace just about any type of creams containing a lot of sugar.

You’ll see heavy whipping cream used in a number of keto friendly recipes including keto ice cream, keto fudge and even different types of keto fat bombs.

These aren’t the only delicious treats you can make with full-fat dairy products. Our next keto-friendly dairy option is the perfect solution to everyone’s favorite day of the week.

Sour Cream

Yep, that’s right.

Taco Tuesdays just got a whole lot better.

Worried you won’t be able to use your favorite condiments an creams on this low carb, high fat diet?

No need to stress.

Sour cream is a deliciously healthy fat with almost zero carbs. Sour cream is a great dairy option for individuals following the keto diet. However, it is a bit on the tangy side, so it may not be as universal as our next option.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt (and other fermented foods such as kefir) can be another go-to dairy product. But beware of the nutrition label. Stay away from flavored yogurts with added fruits and sugar. You’ll want to look for unflavored, full-fat yogurt and kefir.

If you happen to find “low-fat” on the label somewhere, chances are the producers had to add in much more sugar in order to get the same  delicious taste as the natural full-fat options.

What Types of Dairy Should You Stay Away From?

When it comes to dairy to avoid on the keto diet, you’ve got to pay close attention to what you’re consuming. Certain dairy products like milk and “low fat” options in particular can have more carbs than you may think.

As we know, net carbs can add up quick, resulting in a quick kick out of ketosis.

We mentioned before that one cup of whole, pasteurized milk contains 12 grams of net carbs.

If the carb count is more than double the fat count, you should be very cautious. Other reduced fat dairy products such as low-fat cream cheese, fat-free butter substitutes and other dairy foods advertised as “low-fat” will most likely have higher carbs or other ingredients to make up for the flavor.

Can Keto Improve Lactose Intolerance?

While many people consume dairy without any issues, others are not as lucky. Lactose intolerance affects many individuals around the world, including people following the ketogenic diet.

Do you want to start the keto diet but worried you’re options will be limited due to your dairy restrictions? Well, you may still be able to enjoy certain dairy products. Here’s why.

Lactose intolerance means just that — your body can’t tolerate lactose (a type of sugar found in milk and other creamy dairy products). This is the main cause of symptoms associated with lactose intolerance including stomach cramping, bloating, diarrhea, gas and nausea.

If you’re reacting poorly to certain products that are abundant in lactose (milk, cream, ricotta cheese, etc.) try limiting your dairy consumption to foods including:

  • Hard cheeses
  • Aged cheeses and other dairy products
  • Ghee

These products tend to be much lower in lactose.

Bottom Line

When weighing the options to consume dairy on the keto diet, you don’t have to restrict yourself to no dairy whatsoever.

As long as you enjoy the right dairy products in moderation and you’re keeping an eye on your macronutrient count, you’ll be able to enjoy dairy and be perfectly fine.

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Steph is a writer, content creator and recipe developer with a passion for all things health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete's Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and more. Find her @steph.lodge and @theathleteskitchencom

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