One of the key benefits and most popular aspect of buttermilk, is the fact that it is a lot less fat than regular milk. Because of this, a lot of your regular, low-fat diets, recommend drinking buttermilk in place of regular, whole-fat milk. We often see diets suggesting that you stay away from high-fat food such as butter, cheese, milk and dairy products in general. One diet that we don’t see this with is the more recently uprising diet called the ‘keto’ diet.

Today I am going to look at whether or not buttermilk is acceptable in a keto diet and why.

What is Keto?

To understand what foods are and aren’t allowed in a keto diet, we must first understand what a keto diet is. The keto diet, scientifically known as the ketogenic diet, is a high-fat, substantial level of protein, but exceptionally low-carbohydrate diet that is used to encourage weight-loss. This diet brings about a lot of debate – some people swear by it, whilst others highly recommend against it.

The traditional use of the ketogenic diet is to treat hard-to-control epilepsy in children as it forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. However, this is now used as a weight loss mechanism by many. Many nutritionists and personal trainers would recommend against keto due to carbohydrates being viewed as a necessity in order for your body to function healthily. A keto diet means you can be eating a lot of high-fat foods that provide no other nutritional benefit, and as a result you miss out on key nutrients like fibre and vitamins, that would more often be found in carbohydrates like cereals and breads.

What Can I Eat on Keto?

The keto diet may sound pretty simple, but in fact can be quite tricky to follow. Whilst most desirable foods sit high in fat, they also sit high in carbohydrates. Similarly, a lot of fruit and vegetables can be high in carbs and so trying to get the right nutrients can be a lot harder than it may seem.

Common foods to eat whilst on a keto diet are things like seafood, dairy, avocados, meat, eggs and nuts. All of these foods are high in fat (healthy fats) but also low in carbohydrates. Cheese, yogurt, milk and butter are all very common items in the keto diet.

Foods to avoid on a keto diet are foods like cereals, bread, pasta and grains, as these are all extremely high in carbohydrates and would cause your body to run off the carbs as opposed to burning the fat.

Can I have Buttermilk on a Keto diet?

To get specific around whether buttermilk is suitable on a keto diet, we really need to understand its nutritional profile. In short, buttermilk traditionally is the leftover liquid that comes from churning butter. Nowadays, buttermilk is more commonly made by culturing regular low-fat milk – this means adding beneficial bacteria which ferments the milk leaving it with a slightly sour taste, but a longer shelf-life. You can find out more about how buttermilk is made, the uses for it and where to purchase it.

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The fermentation of buttermilk leaves it with around 12 grams sugar, 8 grams of protein, 2.2 grams of fat and around 99 calories in every 1 cup serving (245 grams). This means that in comparison to regular milk, buttermilk has a lot less fat meaning it is not suitable for a keto diet.

This may seem odd, as we know that most products that derive from milk are some of the most popular items on a keto menu. However, a keto diet requires an intake of around 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day, and strictly no more than this. Buttermilk is made with added sugar in order to maintain its taste and texture and so with 12 grams of sugar in only one cup of buttermilk, this knocks it out of the keto contest. Whilst other dairy products typically have no sugar, the acidity of buttermilk requires a neutraliser to keep the taste of it edible but also to help preserve it.

Keto Alternatives to Buttermilk

If you are still desiring that sour yet sweet taste of buttermilk whilst trying to maintain and keto diet, have no fear as there are plenty of alternatives!

Almond milk itself is very low in carbohydrates with around only 1 gram of carbohydrates per cup, in comparison to 2.2 grams in buttermilk. It is a great source of various vitamins, such as vitamin E and vitamin D and these are enriched in fortified almond milk.

In addition, coconut milk is a fantastic substitute for a keto diet. It is naturally high in fat and can provide around 48 grams of fat per cup and only 6 grams of natural carbohydrates. While the carbohydrates are slightly higher, the increase in fat also means that you will be boosting both areas of your diet and so it can work well in providing you with more fat than carbohydrates to keep your keto diet on track.

Finally, regular milk can be great for a keto diet. High in protein and fat it is a normal, healthy contender. However, a lot of people eat plenty of this through other dairy products, and so mixing up your source of milk can nutritionally benefit you if you turn to another milk source.

Final Words

Now that we have established the nutritional profile of buttermilk, it is evident that buttermilk would not be suitable on a keto diet. Buttermilk is low in fat but high in carbohydrates and therefore it goes against the main goals of a keto diet. However, if you are on a keto diet and find yourself craving buttermilk, it is not the be-all-end-all of your diet. Have some in moderation and just track it alongside the rest of what you are eating that day. The fat is low, but the carbohydrates are still not high enough to severely impact what you are aiming for.

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Alternatively, you can opt for other milks such as almond and coconut. These are lower in carbohydrates but may not give you that sour taste you have been craving. Drinking milk from plant-based sources can bring a whole new range of vitamins and nutrients into your diet. This can be really important on a keto diet as much of the food available to keto can be lacking in fibre and vitamins as often these foods are also rich in carbohydrates.

Following a ketosis diet can be extremely hard due to certain cravings, and so the key is to just make sure you have things in moderation. This is much the case for just about any diet out there. Restricting yourself too much from the things you love can greatly hinder all the other work and effort you are putting, so be sure to satisfy your taste buds here and there and in the long run it will probably help you to succeed!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What can I substitute for buttermilk on keto?

You can substitute other forms of milk such as almond or coconut milk. Alternatively you can drink regular, full-fat milk, as this is high in fat but not as high in carbohydrates due to the lack of added sugar.

How many net carbs are in buttermilk?

Buttermilk has around 2.2 grams of carbs in every cup.

Is there carbs in buttermilk?

Yes. Buttermilk contains around 2.2 grams of carbohydrates in every cup (245 grams).

What milk is keto-friendly?

Most other milks are more suitable for a keto diet. Regular cow’s milk can be more suitable, or alternatively you can opt for a plant-based milk like almond or coconut. These are lower in carbohydrates and also provide nutritional benefits that you will not get from buttermilk.