Milk is such a big part of many people’s lives, but when you are on the keto diet regular cow’s milk is not an option. That is because cow’s milk contains lactose or milk sugar which can raise blood sugar levels and prevent you from getting into ketosis if you drink too much.
That’s why many people turn to keto-friendly milk substitutes such as almond milk and coconut milk. But, what is the difference between the two, how to use each one and is one better than the other for the keto diet?
Keep on reading to find out!
What Is Almond Milk?
Almond milk is plant-based milk that is made from almonds. Its flavor is sweet and nutty and it has a creamy texture. Almond milk is widely available in markets and convenience stores, but it is also very easy to make it yourself if you have a blender.
Almond milk is made by soaking the almonds in water overnight or 8 to 48 hours. This will make the almonds soak up some of the liquid and become soft and puffed up.
After soaking, the water is drained and the almonds are put into a blender with fresh water. At this point, flavoring is added such as vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Sometimes cocoa powder is added to make it chocolate almond milk, but this is all optional.
Then it is blended for approximately one minute or until all almonds are blended.
Then the almond milk is strained through a gauze and a sift to separate the pulp, so all that is left is the smooth, tasty almond milk. The leftover blended almonds or almond meal can be fully reused to make delicious keto baked pastries or as a bread crumb alternative.
Almonds and almond milk are a great source of vitamin E, and sometimes calcium and vitamin D are added to store-bought almond milk.
What Is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is also plant-based milk that is made from the pulp of grated mature coconut. It has an opaque, white color and smooth texture. It also has a consistency that can vary depending on the fat content.
It has a rich, slightly sweet, coconut flavor. Coconut milk is available widely in stores, but it is also very easy to make at home.
The coconut milk is made by putting grated coconut into a blender with water and blending it until all coconut is finely blended. Then the mixture is strained through gauze and a sift until all coconut milk is separated from the blended coconut meat. The leftover coconut meat can be used as coconut flour for many keto dishes. Coconut extract can also be used to make coconut oil, too.
Apart from its delicious taste, coconut milk is a very nutritious beverage. Coconut milk can have different amounts of fat- light coconut milk is runnier, while thick coconut milk can have a creamy, thick consistency and it is called coconut cream or condensed coconut milk (if sweetened).
What is special about coconut milk fat is that it is a unique form of saturated fat- called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have many health benefits.
Almond Milk Vs Coconut Milk Nutritional Facts
In the table below we have the comparison of nutritional information on 1 cup or 244 grams of almond milk and drinking coconut milk according to USDA.gov. Please note that different brands will have different nutritional values depending on how much water and almond/coconut they use. (*) (*)
|Nutrition Facts||Almond milk||Coconut milk|
|Calories||36.6 kcal||75.6 kcal|
|Fat||2.34 grams||5.08 grams|
|Protein||0.97 grams||0.51 grams|
|Total Carbs||3.2 grams||7.12 grams|
|Fiber||0.48 grams||0 grams|
|Net Carbs||2.72 grams||7.12 grams|
Both almond and coconut milk are keto-friendly and can be used in many ketogenic dishes and beverages. But, they still have their differences.
What is the nutritional difference?
Regarding the nutritional difference, you can see in the table of nutritional information that coconut milk contains 40 calories more than almond milk per 1 cup. But almond milk has more protein (1 gram), while coconut milk has half of that per 1 cup or 244 grams of both.
Coconut milk contains 2.6 grams more fat and 4.4 grams more net carbs than almond milk per 1 cup.
Almond milk is a great source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect and repair our organism from oxidative damage done by free radicals. (*)
Even though it is higher in protein than coconut milk, it is still not a good source of protein. Additionally, store-bought almond milk can contain added artificial flavors, additives and sugar so make sure you read the ingredient list to make sure you are using unsweetened almond milk.
Coconut milk is high in a special type of saturated fat called MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs have been related to numerous health benefits such as lowering appetite, enchanting the expenditure of energy, improving insulin sensitivity, lowering blood lipids in cases of type 2 diabetes, and more. (*), (*), (*)
Sometimes extra sugar and other additives are added to coconut milk as well, so make sure you use an unsweetened one to avoid extra carbs.
How to Use Coconut Milk vs Almond Milk
Since milk isn’t keto, both coconut and almond milk can be used in many different beverages and dishes, as well as baked goods in the place of regular dairy milk.
Almond milk goes exceptionally well with just plain, black coffee, or for those that like a little more into their coffee we have our Vanilla Almond Milk Coffee that is ketogenic and completely sugar-free.
When it comes to baking with almond milk, it might be a little tricky, as baking requires great accuracy. If the recipe has been tried with almond milk before, you shouldn’t have any problems, but if it hasn’t been tried with it, then there is a chance that the baked goods might come out a little dry and with a more dense texture or they may not raise as much as they would with dairy milk.
Regarding the taste, it can go well with some foods, but it can be hard to mask if you don’t like it.
To substitute dairy milk with almond milk, most often you will need a 1:1 ratio, but you might need to accommodate the almond milk slightly or shorten the baking time to accommodate the dryness of the pastry.
Coconut milk is also one of the most widely used dairy milk alternatives that go well in beverages, pastries, and other dishes. Coconut milk can vary in creaminess and thickness, depending on its fat content, but it is almost always thicker than almond milk.
That’s why it is used when you want to cook something smooth and creamy. For those kinds of food, it is most suitable to use coconut milk, but almond milk is also a good option if that’s what you have on hand.
For a delicious lunch idea that everyone will love, check out our Creamy and Cheesy Baked Turkey Breast, which can be made with both coconut and almond milk.
To substitute dairy milk with coconut milk use a simple 1:1 ratio, making sure that the fat content or the consistency of the coconut milk matches the consistency of the dairy milk. For example, to substitute condensed dairy milk use condensed coconut milk, and for regular milk use coconut milk with lower fat content.
The substitution of almond milk with coconut milk and reversed is also in a 1:1 ratio.
Coconut milk gives a slightly sweet, coconut flavor to the food it is added to, so it might be hard to mask if it doesn’t go well with that particular food.
Which One Is Better For The Keto Diet?
Both almond and coconut milk are keto-friendly and both have a place in a keto dieters’ kitchen. It is ultimately up to you which one you are going to use. In the table below we have the summary of both kinds of milk so you can decide easier!
|Almond milk||Coconut milk|
|Has 36.6 calories per 1 cup or 244 grams||Has 75.6 calories per 1 cup or 244 grams|
|Has 2.72 grams of net carbs per 1 cup or 244 grams||Has 7.12 grams of net carbs per 1 cup or 244 grams|
|Has a smooth, but runny texture||Has a creamier, richer texture that varies depending on the % of fat in it|
|White to tan in color||White in color|
|Is a good source of an antioxidant- Vitamin E||Contains beneficial MCTs|
|It has a nutty taste that translates to the food and drinks it is added to||It has a sweet coconut flavor that translates to the food and drinks it is added to|
|Goes well with coffee and other beverages||Also goes well with coffee and other beverages|
|Baked goods might come denser and not rise as much as with dairy milk||Baked goods might not raise as much as with dairy milk, but the texture is similar|
To replace dairy milk with coconut milk, use a 1:1 ratio.
To replace dairy milk with almond milk, use a 1:1 ratio.
One cup of coconut milk contains 7.12 grams of net carbs
Both coconut milk and almond milk are a great way to add that creaminess that dairy milk offers, but without the unnecessary carb it contains. Both are keto-friendly and both are delicious, it is up to you which one you use, or you can even use both!
Up next: Almond flour vs Coconut flour
*photo by depositphotos/e_mikh