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Is Buttermilk Keto Friendly? [It’s Not What You Think It Is]

Figuring out if buttermilk is keto friendly can be quite confusing. Butter is keto friendly and milk… well, milk may not be as keto friendly. Kind of makes sense right? But buttermilk isn’t exactly what you may think it is.

Buttermilk has 12 grams of net carbs per 1 cup (8 oz serving), similar to a regular glass of milk. While you wouldn't want to use up 12 grams by drinking a cup, using a small amount for baking could disperse the carbs enough to reduce the amount per serving. 

In this article, I’ll go over why you may or may not want to use buttermilk while following a ketogenic diet, what exactly buttermilk is, and everything else under the sun about buttermilk.

Is buttermilk keto friendly pinterest cover

Is Buttermilk Keto Approved?

You may wonder if you can drink buttermilk on keto or whether using some in your keto baking is allowed, and like everything… it just depends.

I wouldn’t suggest you drink a glass of buttermilk, as that would provide a substantial amount of carbohydrates for most individuals. 

 However, using small amounts in your cooking or baking may be a possibility.  

As with most things on keto, it’s the dose that makes the poison, not the food itself.

Many people want to lead you to believe that anything with carbohydrates are forbidden, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

While some foods aren’t worth considering for the carbohydrates relative to the amount you would consume, this doesn’t make it forbidden.

I’ll go over why in just a second, and I’ll also explain how buttermilk may fit into this predicament.

How Many Carbs Are In Buttermilk?

 A 1-cup serving (245 g or 8 fl oz) of buttermilk has 13 net grams of carbohydrates   1

Now, this is also assuming an entire cup of buttermilk is being used. If you’re only needing a splash of buttermilk for a recipe, a 1 oz. (28g) serving will only set you back 1.5g of net carbs. 

And that’s what I mean when I use the phrase “the dose makes the poison,” not the food itself. You could easily fit in small amounts of buttermilk or any other food if you’re mindful of the amount you are using.

But that’s the problem for many people, it’s usually an all-or-nothing attitude.

Surely I could have a few bites of a pint of ice cream, but once that lid comes off, let’s just say it’s not going back into the freezer.

What Is Keto Friendly?

Most individuals following a ketogenic diet are generally consuming between 20 and 50 grams of net carbohydrates to get achieve and maintain a metabolic state of ketosis.  

Now, what makes something keto friendly versus not keto friendly is a matter of a few things:

  • How many carbohydrates you have per day
  • How bad you really want a particular food
  • How much self-restraint you have

Let’s say you’re the individual who only has 20 grams of carbohydrates to play with each day. You can think of your carbs like a budget you get to spend, and what you spend it on is entirely up to you.

For you to fit in an entire cup of buttermilk would wipe out over half of your daily carbohydrate allotment. For someone with 50 grams per day, they still have over half of their budget to spend. 

For the individuals with 50 grams, a cup of buttermilk would technically be more keto-friendly to them versus you who only has 20 grams to play with. 

See how that works?

What Is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk can be quite confusing if you take it for face value. Heck, I didn’t know what buttermilk was at one point in time.

At face value, I would imagine buttermilk was a high-fat alternative or version of milk, but that couldn’t be any farther from the truth.

 Buttermilk has no butter, and funny enough is lower in fat than regular milk. The “butter” in buttermilk originated due to it being the liquid left over after churning butter.  

Buttermilk adds strong flavors, specifically a tangy and creamy richness to dishes, reminiscent of yogurt. 

Is buttermilk keto

Buttermilk is still a cultured milk, similar to natural yogurt and kefir.

However, instead of a by-product of making butter, pasteurized milk is combined with cultures (lactic acid bacteria) that transform it into the buttermilk we see on the shelves today. This process leaves the buttermilk thicker, tangier, and more acidic than traditional buttermilk made at home.

Similar to other fermented products, buttermilk is a potent source of probiotics, much like kimchi or sauerkraut.

Health Benefits Of Buttermilk

Buttermilk may offer some health benefits, from improved digestion to improved blood pressure. Here are just a few other benefits of buttermilk.

Easier to digest

Since buttermilk contains an acid, this may make digesting the lactose content of dairy much easier. Individuals who may be lactose intolerant may find cultured dairy products tolerable with very few if any side effects. 2

You can always opt for non-dairy version of buttermilk which I cover in the next section.

May lower cholesterol

In one study, consuming only 45 grams of reconstituted buttermilk daily reduced total cholesterol by 3% with an additional 10% reduction in triglycerides 3 

45 grams of buttermilk would only net you less than 5 grams of carbohydrates.

Lower blood pressure

In another study, consuming buttermilk daily reduced systolic blood pressure and mean arterial blood pressure by 2.6 mm Hg and 1.7mm Hg respectively. 4

Substitute For Buttermilk On A ketogenic Diet

While you can use small amounts of buttermilk on a ketogenic diet, there may be “lower” carb alternatives. 

A popular buttermilk substitute people use when they don’t have any on hand is combining milk with an acid. You would then stir the two together very well before letting in stand for about 5 minutes. 

Finding a buttermilk replacement is hard, but here are some options you may want to consider the following combinations:

How to make keto buttermilk

Choose the combination you want to use above based on what you have on hand or prefer to use.

For the acid mixes you want to use about 1-cup of liquid for every 1 tbsp of acid.

The Takeaway

Buttermilk may not be the most keto friendly option, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any buttermilk while following a ketogenic diet.

Small amounts of buttermilk can easily be fit into your keto diet, whether using for cooking or baking purposes.

Another option is to make your own buttermilk using lower-carb alternatives such as heavy whipping cream, yogurt, or almond milk. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can buttermilk go bad?

Buttermilk stays good for 14 days in the refrigerator after you open the container. If you freeze it, it'll stay good for at least three months in an airtight container.

What is a substitute for buttermilk?

There are several different substitutes for buttermilk. Some of the most common substitutes for buttermilk are milk + vinegar, and milk + lemon juice.

Does buttermilk spike insulin?

Buttermilk doesn't cause any spikes in insulin which is why it's a great food for diabetic people.


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