I remember the first time I had real fresh coconut milk. It was when I first traveled to the Philippines as a child that I was introduced to this rich and creamy goodness.
Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. I started using it in smoothies, soups, curries, and just about everything that I wanted to make extra creamy.
However, when I started my ketogenic diet, I wasn’t sure if it was low-carb enough to include still.
Is coconut milk keto friendly? Coconut milk is moderately keto friendly with fewer carbs than regular milk and may be included while following a ketogenic diet.
In this article, I’ll go over exactly how many carbs are in coconut milk, the difference between some coconut milks, the brands with the lowest net carbs, some amazing keto friendly recipes, and much more.
Is Coconut Milk Keto Friendly?
Coconut milk is keto friendly, and here’s why.
Even though coconut milk has a few carbohydrates, it has a proportionally small amount relative to its serving size.
While you don’t want to consume a lot of coconut milk, including a cup (8 fl oz.), whether in a smoothie or a recipe can easily fit into your daily carbohydrate allotment.
The most significant determining factor when it comes to whether a particular food is keto-friendly or not depends on how many carbohydrates you stick to each day.
Most individuals following a ketogenic diet end up consuming anywhere between 20 and 50 grams of net carbs to achieve and stay in a metabolic state of ketosis.
For example, if you had 20 grams of net carbs per day and ate something with 10 grams of net carbs, then that item would not be as keto-friendly as to someone who had 50 grams of net carbs per day.
You can look at your net carbs for the day, almost like a budget you get to spend, and what you choose to spend it on is entirely up to you.
There are no black or white rules when it comes to keto; the only requirement is that you keep carbs low enough to achieve and maintain ketosis, and that number will vary from individual to individual.
How Many Carbs Are In Coconut Milk
Just how many carbs are in coconut milk? While the number of carbs can vary from brand to brand, your average cup (8 fl. oz.) serving of coconut milk has a total of 13.3 grams of carbohydrates with 5.3 grams coming from fiber, thus leaving you with 8 grams of net carbs. 1
Relative to regular cow’s milk, coconut milk has about 33% fewer carbohydrates than your standard eight fl. oz. cup of whole milk. 2
Just remember, the 8 grams of net carbs is for an entire cup of coconut milk. If your recipe only calls for 1/4 cup or a couple of tablespoons, the amount of net carbs significantly decreases.
Also, brands will vary, and some have as little as 1 gram of carbohydrate per cup. If you’re interested in these more keto-friendly brands, I’ll be listing them down below.Another friendly note, coconut milk found in the carton, will generally be more diluted than the ones you’ll find in the can, which is why they are more low-carb than your average canned variety.
If you want to use coconut milk as a beverage, I would recommend purchasing coconut milk in a carton.
However, if you’re looking for the creamier variety to use in recipes, I would recommend using the canned version of either coconut milk or coconut cream.
Coconut Milk Nutrition
Coconut milk is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, which is quite vital while following a ketogenic diet.
Coconut milk is also high in saturated fat, but I’ll cover why that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For one cup of coconut milk (8 fl. Oz), you’ll get:
- 552 calories
- 57.2 g fat
- 13.3 g carbohydrates
- 5.3 g dietary fiber
- 5.5 g protein
- 88.8 mg magnesium
- 2.2 mg manganese
- 240 mg phosphorous
- 631 mg potassium
Is Coconut Milk Healthy
As I stated in the previous section, coconut milk is high in saturated fat, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing.
Studies show quite the opposite when it comes to coconut fats in regards to cholesterol and heart health. Here are just a few of the health benefits of coconut milk.
Cholesterol and heart health
Cholesterol and triglycerides show improvement with coconut intake.
An 8-week study involving 60 men found that coconut milk porridge lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol by 18% compared to soy milk 3
Additional studies also found that intake of coconut oil or flakes reduced LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while improving HDL cholesterol 4
May benefit weight loss
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)
Unlike other sources of fats, MCTs are shuttled directly to the liver, where they’re used for energy or ketone production, thus making them less likely to be stored as fat.
Also, compared to other fats, MCTs may help reduce appetite. A reduction in appetite can help you decrease your calorie intake, which further leads to additional weight loss. 5
If you ever decide to add oil on keto to hit your fat intake, my first go-to would be MCTs. However, I would much rather supplement straight MCTs versus adding additional coconut milk.
Boosts immune system
Coconut oil contains a fat called Laurie acid, which researched believe can support the immune system by fighting viruses and bacteria that cause infections 6 7
Certain animal studies found that coconut extract also helped to reduce inflammation and swelling, although in injured rats and mice 8
How Is Coconut Milk Made?
If you’ve ever seen a coconut opened or cracked one open yourself, you’ll realize there’s only coconut water to be found.
How then is coconut milk made?
Coconut milk is made similar to how various nut milk like almond milk is produced. In this case, the coconut flesh is grated and soaked in hot water.
From this step alone, coconut cream and coconut milk are created. After the coconut cream rises to the top, it’s then skimmed off, and the remaining liquid is squeezed through a cheesecloth to leave us with the coconut milk.
When you repeat this process, the coconut milk becomes thinner and more watery, which is how “lite” coconut milk is created.
Here’s an interesting little video that shows you how coconut milk is made from the farm to the can (or carton).
Keto-Friendly Coconut Milk Brands
Coconut milk is quite common in most grocery stores, so finding it isn’t as hard as it once was.
Here are a few coconut milk brands and their corresponding net carb count per 1 cup.
Just remember, you want to look for the cartons that say unsweetened. You may end up like me and buy coconut milk full of added sugars if you don’t otherwise.
The cans don’t generally have added sugars, so you don’t have to worry about the “unsweetened” labeling for canned coconut milk.
- So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk – 1g
- Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Coconut Beverage – 1g
- Silk Unsweetened Coconut Milk – 1g
- Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk – 3g
- Goya Coconut Milk – 8g
- Native Forest Coconut Milk – 6g
As you see, the net carb count can vary significantly between brands (and carton vs. can), so choose wisely.
And choose the one that fits your needs (cooking vs. drinking).
What’s The Difference Between Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk
If you briefly skimmed the how coconut milk is made section, you’ll see that after the coconut flesh is grated and soaked in hot water, the cream rises to the top and then scraped off.
Similar to how heavy whipping cream is created from dairy milk, coconut cream is gathered in the same way.
The result is a creamier, fattier, and usually less carbohydrate version than the milk portion.
If you have the calories to spare and want a richer and more creamy substitute for coconut milk, then try coconut cream. You could also just use heavy whipping cream or half and half if you’re not opposed to using dairy.
What’s The Best Milk For Keto?
So is coconut milk the ultimate alternative to dairy milk for keto?
Not necessarily.There is no “best milk” for keto. The best milk will vary from person to person because everyone has different needs and taste buds.
I could tell you the best milk for keto is coconut milk, but if you hate coconuts, then that wouldn’t do you any good, would it?
In terms of kinds of milk you can try that are low carbohydrate aside from coconut milk, there is:
- Almond milk
- Cashew milk
- Soy milk
- Macadamia milk
- Flax milk
- Hemp milk
The best thing you could do is give them all a try and find one that you enjoy the taste of.
That would be “the best” milk for keto FOR YOU.
Keto-Friendly Coconut Milk Recipes
Now that we’ve established that coconut milk is keto friendly, what are some ways you can use this delicious beverage to spice up your keto kitchen?
Here are a few ways to start incorporating a little coconut milk.
Coconut milk keto smoothie
One of the best ways to make a smoothie extra thick and creamy is by using coconut milk. Of course, this is assuming you like thick and creamy smoothies, because if you like watery smoothies, then I don’t think we can be friends.
Here is a delicious keto breakfast smoothie using coconut milk, almond milk, and coconut yogurt.
What you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup Coconut Milk (canned)
- 1/2 cup Almond Milk
- 1/4 cup Coconut Yoghurt *Can also use Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 tsp Stevia (or favorite non-calorie sweetened)
- 4 Strawberries (or substitute other berries)
- 1/2 scoop of protein powder (I like this one)
Simply combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Keto Thai Coconut Soup
If there is any ethnic cuisine notorious for using coconut milk, it’s Thai cuisine.
This coconut soup is full of flavor and can easily be used as a main course.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Explorer Momma
Creamy Coconut Milk Pudding
A little cream cheese combined with some coconut milk makes for a delicious coconut pudding in this recipe from Low Carb Yum.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Low Carb Yum
Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Want an easy to make coconut milk ice cream? This recipe only requires three ingredients.
Photo and recipe courtesy of The Big Man’s World
Not a recipe per se, but if you’re interested in making your coconut milk at home, here is a video that takes you step by step in doing so.
Coconut milk is keto friendly, containing 33% fewer carbs than your average dairy milk.
Coconut milk found in a carton will generally have less carbs per cup compared to that found in a can since they are diluted.
If looking to enjoy a glass of coconut milk, you’re better off sticking with the carton versions, just make sure it says unsweetened on the label.
However, if you’re looking to use coconut milk in other recipes, while it has a few more carbs, I would recommend the canned variety.