What milk has the lowest carbohydrate?

When choosing milk, many people want to find options that are low in carbohydrates, especially those following low-carb or keto diets. The carbohydrate content can vary significantly between different types of milk. In this article, we will compare the carb content of various milks to determine which has the lowest amount of carbohydrates.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients found in foods, along with protein and fat. Carbs include sugars, starches, and fiber. Simple carbs like sugar are broken down quickly by the body and can cause spikes in blood sugar. More complex carbs like starches and fiber are broken down more slowly and do not cause rapid rises in blood sugar.

When counting carbs for a low-carb diet, the focus is usually on net carbs. Net carbs refer to the total carbohydrates in a food minus the fiber content. Fiber is subtracted because it is indigestible and does not provide calories or spike blood sugar like other carbs.

Why choose low-carb milk?

There are several reasons someone may want to choose a milk with lower carbs:

  • Following a low-carb or keto diet – These diets aim to lower carb intake to achieve ketosis or reduce insulin levels.
  • Managing diabetes – Lower carb intake can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Losing weight – Carbs influence fat storage, so reducing them can promote weight loss.
  • Controlling hunger – Protein and fat take longer to digest, resulting in increased fullness compared to carbs.

When limiting carbohydrates, paying attention to the carb content of dairy products is important, as the amount can vary significantly depending on the type. Choosing a low-carb milk is an easy way to reduce overall carb intake throughout the day.

Carbohydrate content of different milks

The carbohydrate content can differ quite a bit between types of milk. Here is an overview of the carb content in different milks:

Whole milk

Whole milk contains around 12-13 grams of carbs per cup (245 grams). The majority of the carbohydrates in milk come from a milk sugar called lactose. Whole milk gets its high fat content from cream that is added back into milk after skimming off some of the fat. The carb content does not change significantly with the fat content.

2% reduced fat milk

2% milk contains a similar amount of carbohydrates as whole milk, around 11-12 grams per cup. The fat content is reduced to 2% but this does not have a major impact on the carb content.

Skim and nonfat milk

Skim (0%) and nonfat milk have slightly lower carbs than whole, with around 11 grams per cup. Removing all or most of the milkfat saves a small number of carbs but not a significant amount.

Flavored low-fat milk

Flavored milk like chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla made with 2% or nonfat milk contains around 24-26 grams of carbs per cup. The added flavoring contains extra sugar, bumping up the total carbohydrates.

Lactose-free milk

Most lactose-free milk contains about the same amount of carbs (12 grams) as regular milk. Lactose-free milk has the enzyme lactase added to break down lactose. However, the total carbohydrate content remains similar to regular milk.

Organic milk

Organic milk also contains around 12 grams of carbs per cup like conventional milk. Organic production methods do not significantly impact the carbohydrate content.

Condensed milk

Sweetened condensed milk contains about 40 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup serving. The condensing process removes water while adding sugar, concentrating the carb content. Evaporated milk, on the other hand, contains 13 grams of carbs as no sugar is added.

Goat’s milk

Goat’s milk is a bit lower in carbs than cow’s milk, with about 10-11 grams per cup. However, the difference is small. Goat’s milk does contain slightly less lactose than cow’s milk. Lactose content varies somewhat based on factors like goat breed and diet.

Sheep’s milk

Sheep’s milk contains around 10-11 grams of carbs per cup, similar to goat’s milk. It’s slightly lower in lactose compared to cow’s milk but the difference is minimal.

Soy milk

Soy milk is quite a bit lower in carbs than dairy milk, ranging from 1-4 grams per cup depending on brand and flavor. Soy milk is made from soaked and ground soybeans, naturally containing low carbs and no lactose. Be sure to stick to unsweetened varieties to keep carbs down.

Almond milk

Almond milk only contains about 1 gram of carb per cup. Like soy milk, almond milk is plant-based so it does not contain lactose. It’s also naturally low in carbs. Be sure to choose unsweetened almond milk.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk also contains very little carbs, with only around 1 gram per cup of unsweetened coconut milk. It’s another dairy-free, plant-based milk low in carbs by nature.

Hemp milk

Unsweetened hemp milks provide about 1 gram of carbohydrates per cup, on par with almond and coconut milk. Hemp seeds are naturally low carb. Opt for unsweetened varieties only.

Rice milk

Rice milk contains significantly more carbs than nut or soy milks, around 22 grams per cup. Since it’s made from rice, the carbohydrate content is higher. Rice milk should be limited on low-carb diets.

Lowest carb milk options

Based on the comparisons above, here are the milks lowest in carbs:

Milk Carbs per Cup
Unsweetened Almond Milk 1 gram
Unsweetened Coconut Milk 1 gram
Unsweetened Hemp Milk 1 gram
Unsweetened Soy Milk 1-4 grams

The clear winners when it comes to the lowest amount of carbs are unsweetened varieties of plant-based milks like almond, coconut, hemp, and soy. Since these milks are naturally lactose-free and low carb, they contain only 1-4 grams of carbs per cup.

In contrast, dairy milk contains at least 10-13 grams of carbs per cup depending on fat content and type of animal. Even 2% and nonfat dairy milk are significantly higher in carbs compared to plant milks.

Tips for choosing the lowest carb milk

Here are some tips for selecting the lowest carb milk option:

  • Stick to plant-based milks like almond, coconut, hemp, or soy since they are naturally low in carbs.
  • Always choose unsweetened varieties to avoid added sugar.
  • Avoid sweetened plant milks and flavored dairy milks that contain extra added sugars.
  • Limit carb counts to 1-4 grams per cup for very low carb options.
  • Watch out for rice milk, which is higher carb despite being plant-based.
  • Pay close attention to nutrition labels and look at the total carb per serving.

Choosing unsweetened almond, coconut, hemp or soy means you can enjoy milk with your low carb diet instead of going without. The carb count is negligible at just 1-4 grams per cup.

Healthiest low-carb milk choices

When selecting a low-carb milk, you also want to consider the overall nutrition profile. Here are some of the top low-carb, nutritionally-rich milk options:

Soy milk

Soy milk is a complete plant-based protein containing all essential amino acids. It also provides fiber, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, and antioxidants. Opt for unsweetened to keep carbs down.

Almond milk

Almond milk is low carb, low calorie, and rich in vitamin E. Look for varieties fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Shake well before using as the almond pulp separates.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk contains beneficial fats called medium chain triglycerides, which are linked to increased energy expenditure and fat burning. Choose unsweetened to avoid added sugar.

Hemp milk

Hemp milk provides protein, omega-3 fats, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and antioxidants. Like other plant milks, unsweetened has the fewest carbs.

Flax milk

Flax milk is high in omega-3 fats that have anti-inflammatory effects. It also contains calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. The carb content is low at just 2 grams per cup.

Pea milk

Pea milk rivals the protein content of dairy milk, providing 8 grams per cup. It also contains vitamin D, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B12 and is low carb.

Potential Drawbacks of Low-Carb Milks

Despite their low carb counts, there are a few potential downsides to plant-based milks compared to dairy:

  • Lower protein – Dairy milk contains around 8 grams of protein per cup compared to 1 gram or less in plant milks.
  • Lower vitamin and mineral levels – Dairy milks are excellent sources of highly bioavailable calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin. Plant milks need to be fortified to match the vitamin and mineral profile.
  • Less satiating – The fat and protein in dairy milk help you feel fuller compared to very low fat, low protein plant milks.
  • Higher cost – Alternative milks usually cost significantly more than cow’s milk.
  • Added sugars and carbs – Many flavored plant milks contain added sugars, so check labels carefully.
  • Allergies – Some people have allergies to nuts or soy that prevent using certain plant-based milks.

If you do opt for plant-based milk, look for varieties fortified with calcium and vitamins D and B12 to reduce nutrient deficiencies. Pea milk is one good option since it provides more protein, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B12.


The clear winner when it comes to the lowest carbohydrate milk is unsweetened plant-based milk. Varieties like almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, and soy milk contain only 1-4 grams of carbs per cup.

In comparison, even 2% and nonfat dairy milk contain at least 10-13 grams of carbs per cup. The lactose in dairy milk means it will always be higher in carbs than lactose-free plant milks.

Just be sure to stick with unsweetened plant milks and avoid those with added sugars, which bump up the carb count. Also pay attention to whether plant milks are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 to match the nutrient profile of dairy.

With so many delicious plant-based options picking the milk lowest in carbs no longer means missing out. You can still enjoy the creaminess of milk to enhance your coffee, smoothies, oats and more while following a low carb diet.

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