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Home / Nutrition / Is Coconut Milk Keto-friendly?

Is Coconut Milk Keto-friendly?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg November 22, 2021


Is coconut milk keto? Yes! It can be a delicious addition to a Healthy Keto™ diet—but be careful not to choose the wrong kind.

Coconut milk keto

 

What is keto?

Keto is a high-fat, low-carb diet that helps normalize your insulin and blood sugar levels. This diet can support a healthy body and promote safe weight loss.

The ketogenic diet requires you to stay under 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Consuming too many carbs will kick your body out of ketosis and stop the benefits of being on keto. For this reason, it's important to consume naturally low-carb, high-fat foods.

 

What is coconut milk?

Coconut milk is a milky-white liquid made using the grated meat (the white part inside of a coconut, which is often shredded and used in treats) of a mature coconut and water. After it's grated into a pulp, the coconut meat is soaked in hot water, blended, squeezed, and drained to make milk.

Coconut milk is often confused with coconut water—the liquid found sloshing around inside immature coconuts. This distinction is important because coconut water is high in carbs and not safe on a keto diet. 

Coconut milk is used in many Indian and Thai dishes, including soups and curry. You can use it as a lactose-free alternative to cow's milk for coffee, shakes, smoothies, stews, casseroles, dressings, and sauces. There are so many ways to use coconut milk in delicious keto recipes!

Try this incredible Keto Chicken Coconut Curry Recipe: /blog/keto-chicken-coconut-curry-recipe

 

Types of coconut milk

Coconut milk can come in cans, cartons, and drink bottles, and each will have a unique flavor and nutritional value. Here are the most common types...

Canned unsweetened coconut milk - This is the best option to have on keto. Canned unsweetened coconut milk is more concentrated than other variations because it contains less added water. It also has the highest fat content, which gives it more flavor and texture. It's great to use in coconut curry and other delicious dishes.

Canned light coconut milk - Light coconut milk contains less fat than other canned varieties. Most of the creamy fat is removed, leaving a clear, watery liquid. This process reduces the flavor and nutritional benefits. However, light coconut milk still has low enough carbs to be safe on keto. 

Fresh coconut milk - Carton varieties (like Silk coconut milk) contain more water, giving them a thinner consistency—similar to two-percent milk. It's most often used in coconut milk smoothies, shakes, and espresso drinks. Some fresh varieties contain unhealthy added sugars and preservatives—so always check the label to make sure it's unsweetened and unflavored.

Coconut milk beverages - Coconut milk drinks often contain a small amount of natural coconut with added water, sugar, flavors, and preservatives. Additives decrease the nutritional value and often make these drinks non-keto-friendly. It's important to check the drink label for any hidden ingredients that may kick your body out of ketosis.

Coconut water vs coconut milk

 

How many carbs are in coconut milk?

Unsweetened coconut milk is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, making it an excellent choice on a ketogenic diet. However, avoiding varieties with added sugar is important—they can quickly push you over your daily carb limit. 

Canned, light, and carton coconut milk each have unique nutritional contents. Take a look.

 

Coconut milk nutrition facts

 

Canned coconut milk (1 cup):
Fat: 58 grams
Net carbs: 8 grams
Potassium: 631 milligrams

Light coconut milk (1 cup):
Fat: 15 grams
Net carbs: 6 grams
Potassium: 40 milligrams

Cartoned coconut milk (1 cup):
Fat: 4 grams
Net carbs: 1 gram
Potassium: 310 milligrams

Keto weight_loss

 

The benefits of coconut milk on keto

There are many benefits of having coconut milk on a ketogenic diet. Here are five reasons to add coconut milk to your weekly shopping list!

1. It's naturally low-carb and high-fat
Coconut milk is naturally high in fat and low in carbohydrates, so you can add it to any beverage or dish without stopping ketosis.

2. It's rich in MCT oil
The oil from coconut is a form called lauric acid, which is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). MCTs are excellent on a keto diet; they boost ketones, support high energy levels, and help you stay satisfied between meals. Learn more about MCT oil vs coconut oil.

3. It's packed with electrolytes 
One cup of canned coconut milk contains 631 mg of potassium—the equivalent of having four servings of vegetables. It also contains magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. 

4. It contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds
The fatty acids in coconut boost monolaurin in your body. This compound has powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

5. It's lactose-free
Coconut contains zero lactose. It's a great alternative to dairy for those with lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivities.

 

How to make your own coconut milk

Making coconut milk at home is surprisingly quick and easy. This delicious keto-friendly recipe takes just ten minutes to make, and you'll be blown away by the results—give it a try!

Coconut milk recipe

 

Keto coconut milk recipe

Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 
Per serving (1 cup): 360 calories, 0 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 58 g fat

Ingredients:

4 cups water
1½ cups unsweetened coconut, shredded

Directions:

1. Heat water until hot (but not boiling).
2. Add hot water and shredded coconut to blender and blend on high until the liquid is thick and opaque (this should take 1 to 3 minutes). 
3. Pour liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or cup to remove large coconut solids.
4. Squeeze liquid mixture through a cheesecloth or towel to remove the remaining solids. 
5. Pour coconut milk into a sealed container. 
6. Enjoy immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Shake before each use to recombine any coconut oils that separate and rise to the top of your milk. Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil.

Note: Depending on your blender size, you may need to split the water into multiple batches. Use all of the coconut in the first batch and reuse coconut pulp for all remaining batches (each additional batch of liquid will be less creamy and opaque than the previous—this is normal). Combine all the coconut milk at the end for an even consistency.

Tip: You can make keto-friendly chocolate milk by adding 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, ½ tsp vanilla extract, a small pinch of salt, and Stevia to taste. For a consistency similar to 2% milk, slowly add water until it reaches your desired thickness. 

Coconut chicken curry

 

Key takeaways

Unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk naturally contains minimal carbs and plenty of healthy fats, making it an excellent addition to your keto meal plan. However, it's important to avoid varieties that contain added sugar. Sweetened coconut milk can quickly push you over your daily carb limit. 

While low-fat varieties are keto-friendly, they lack the natural healthy fats that are beneficial on a Healthy Keto™ diet. So, it's best to enjoy the health benefits and rich, creamy flavor of full-fat coconut milk. 

This coconut milk soup recipe has ginger, turmeric, and carrot and it’s keto-friendly, easy to make, and can be used in a variety of recipes. If you want to explore more delicious keto coconut milk recipes, check out our keto recipes page!

 

FAQs

1. Which coconut milk brands are best on keto?
Many brands have keto-friendly options, including Silk, Lieber's, Native Forest, Thrive Market, Ayam Brand, and Good & Gather (Target store brand). 

2. What kind of coconut milk is good for keto?
Unflavored and unsweetened coconut milk is safe to have on keto. Avoid kinds that contain sugar, artificial flavors, and other unhealthy additives. 

3. How many net carbs are in coconut milk?
Each cup contains six grams of net carbs.

4. Is coconut milk good for weight loss?
Yes! Coconut milk is excellent for weight loss on a keto diet. It's low in carbs and rich in healthy medium-chain triglycerides that can help reduce cravings between meals. 

5. Does coconut water stop ketosis?
Yes—coconut water contains many carbs, which push you over your daily limit and kick your body out of ketosis.

6. Is coconut cream keto-friendly?
Yes, coconut cream is keto-friendly. It's made using the same process as coconut milk but uses much less water, giving it a thicker texture and more creamy flavor.

7. What is light coconut milk?
Light coconut milk has most of the fat removed, leaving you with a watery liquid. While it's still keto-friendly, it's not recommended in most recipes. The removed fat makes up a significant portion of the delicious, creamy flavor. 

8. Is coconut milk lactose-free? 
Yes! Coconut milk is an excellent alternative for those with lactose intolerance, and you can use it to replace cow's milk in sauces, smoothies, shakes, and more. 

9. What is guar gum?
Guar gum is extracted from guar beans. It's a food additive that acts as a stabilizer and thickener. It's often used in nut milk, and it's safe to consume.

10. Is guar gum keto-friendly?
Yes! Guar gum contains zero net carbs and is nontoxic. Having coconut milk with guar gum will not affect ketosis. 

11. How long can I keep homemade coconut milk in the fridge?
You can keep fresh coconut milk in the fridge for up to four days in an airtight container.

12. Coconut water vs. coconut milk: what's the difference?
Coconut water is a translucent liquid found inside an immature coconut that's high in carbs and not keto-friendly. Coconut milk is a creamy, opaque liquid made from the meat of the coconut, which is low in carbs, rich in fat, and safe on keto.

13. Is Starbucks coconut milk keto?
No, Starbucks coconut milk is not keto-friendly because it contains added sugar. It’s best to ask for heavy cream instead.

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