Is heavy cream whipping cream keto friendly?

Keto diets have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to lose weight and improve health. Many keto dieters use heavy whipping cream as part of their high-fat, low-carb regimen. But is heavy cream actually keto friendly?

What is heavy cream?

Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is a high-fat dairy product used frequently in cooking and baking. It contains at least 36% milk fat, giving it a thick, rich consistency. Heavy cream is pasteurized and usually comes from cow’s milk.

Some key facts about heavy cream:

  • Contains 36-40% milk fat
  • Thick, creamy texture
  • Adds richness and body to food
  • Can be whipped into soft peaks
  • Higher in calories and fat than milk or light cream

Due to its high fat content, heavy cream is commonly used to make creamy sauces, soups, desserts, and more. It provides a rich, indulgent texture without extra effort.

Nutrition facts of heavy cream

Here are the nutrition facts for a 1 tablespoon (15ml) serving of heavy whipping cream (40% milk fat):

  • Calories: 51
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 3g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Carbs: 1g
  • Calcium: 11mg

As you can see, nearly all of the calories in heavy cream come from fat, with minimal carbs and protein. The high amount of saturated fat is notable as well.

Is heavy cream keto friendly?

Heavy cream is generally considered keto friendly for several reasons:

  • High fat content – Keto diets emphasize high fat intake, which heavy cream provides.
  • Low carb – With only 1g net carbs per serving, heavy cream fits into keto carb limits.
  • Calorie density – The rich texture means you can use smaller amounts.
  • Won’t spike blood sugar – Without carbs, heavy cream won’t disrupt ketosis.

By providing a big dose of fat with minimal carbs, heavy cream can be incorporated into keto diets in moderation. Many keto recipes use small amounts of heavy cream to provide richness without going over carb limits.

Ways to use heavy cream on keto

Here are some ways heavy whipping cream can be included in a keto diet:

  • Coffee creamer – Add a splash to morning coffee or tea instead of milk.
  • Smoothies – Blend with low carb fruits like berries for a creamy treat.
  • Cream sauces – Make delicious high fat pan sauces for chicken, seafood or veggies.
  • Soups – Swirl into soups for a creamy, smooth texture.
  • Desserts – Use whipped cream as a topping or make keto mousse.
  • Cooking – Add richness when making cauliflower mash, casseroles and more.

When cooking keto recipes, swap out milk or nut milks for heavy cream to add fat. Just watch your portions, as the calories still add up fast.

Potential downsides of heavy cream on keto

Despite its popularity, there are some potential downsides of using heavy cream on a ketogenic diet:

  • High in calories – Small amounts pack over 50 calories per tablespoon, so it’s easy to overdo it.
  • Easy to overeat – The rich taste can lead to eating more than you should.
  • High in saturated fat – May negatively impact cholesterol for some people long-term.
  • Spikes fat intake – Can make it tricky to balance macros and meet protein goals.

To mitigate these issues, consume heavy cream in moderation as part of an overall balanced keto diet. Prioritize healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds as well.

Heavy cream alternatives

For those concerned about overdoing heavy cream or wanting lower calorie options, several alternatives may work:

  • Light cream – Contains 18-30% milk fat for fewer calories.
  • Half and half – 12-18% milk fat, lighter texture.
  • Full fat coconut milk – Rich and creamy non-dairy option.
  • Cashew cream – Made by blending soaked cashews with water.
  • Seed milks – Such as hemp milk or flax milk for a nutrition boost.

In cooking, arrowroot or xanthan gum can help mimic the thickness of heavy cream. Avocado is another nutrient-dense substitution in smoothies and sauces.

Whipping heavy cream

Heavy cream can be whipped into soft, billowy peaks to make dishes like whipped cream or chocolate mousse. Here are some tips for whipping heavy cream:

  • Make sure cream is thoroughly chilled – At least 2 hours in the fridge.
  • Use a stand mixer or hand mixer – Beat on high speed for best volume.
  • Whip until stiff peaks form – But don’t overbeat or it can turn grainy.
  • Add any flavors at the end – Such as vanilla extract, cocoa powder, etc.
  • Store whipped cream in the fridge – Should keep 2-3 days covered.

Whipping concentrates the fat molecules while incorporating air to make the texture light. Sweeten whipped cream sparingly to keep carb counts low if enjoying on a keto diet.

Making your own heavy whipping cream

It’s possible to make heavy cream at home by separating the cream from whole milk. Here is the general process:

  1. Let a gallon of whole milk sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Skim the solid cream layer off the top of the milk.
  3. Whip the cream until light and fluffy.
  4. Use as you would commercial heavy cream.

This separation method allows you to end up with fresh cream and skim milk. However, the fat content of homemade cream varies based on the milk used. For precise results, buying commercial heavy cream may be better.

Is powdered heavy cream keto friendly?

Powdered heavy cream offers the convenience of shelf stability for keto dieters. Here’s how it compares to regular heavy cream:

  • Produced by removing moisture from heavy cream.
  • Contains at least 40% milk fat like liquid cream.
  • Has a long shelf life of 12-18 months.
  • Can be reconstituted into liquid cream with water.
  • Higher carb than liquid due to added gum/anti-caking agents.

Overall, powdered heavy cream can be a useful keto-friendly option, but watch the nutrition label for sneaky carb additions. Opt for versions without added sugars or fillers when possible.

MCT oil vs heavy cream on keto

Medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is another popular keto supplement used for energy and ketone production. Here’s how it compares to heavy cream:

  • MCTs – Contain only 8-10 carbons unlike most fats. More rapidly absorbed.
  • Energy – MCTs are quickly used for fuel by the body and brain.
  • Ketones – MCT oil helps boost ketone levels, which aids ketosis.
  • Drawback – Can sometimes cause GI distress or diarrhea.

While both provide ample fats, MCT oil offers more direct energetic benefits. Heavy cream has more micronutrients and may be better for cooking purposes.

Is heavy cream allowed on the keto diet?

Heavy cream is widely considered to be keto diet approved due to its minimal carb content and high fat levels. However, as with any food, it should still be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced low carb approach:

  • Track your macros – Don’t let heavy cream crowd out adequate protein.
  • Watch portions – Stick to 1-2 tbsp per serving.
  • Include variety – Rotate heavy cream with other healthy fats.
  • Consider your goals – Are you trying to lose weight or build muscle?

Heavy cream can be an occasional treat, but shouldn’t become a daily staple if weight loss is your goal. Use it to enhance an already solid low carb diet.

The bottom line

Heavy cream can be enjoyed on a keto diet due to its high amount of fats and low level of carbs. However, it is calorie dense and easy to overconsume. Include heavy cream in moderation as part of a varied low carb diet to reap the benefits while avoiding potential drawbacks.

Whip up a special treat now and then, but don’t go pouring heavy cream over everything. Prioritize more balanced sources of fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds on a regular basis. This ensures you meet your macros and get a variety of nutrients.

At the end of the day, heavy cream can be a delicious keto-approved ingredient when used properly. Just be mindful of your overall diet quality if making it a daily habit.

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