The term "low-carb milk" can be used to describe both commercial and homemade beverages that are lower in carbohydrates than standard milk. While dairy cream is somewhat low in carbohydrates, both cow and goat's milk contains a significant amount of milk sugar, raising its carbohydrate count. As a result, some companies have developed low-carb milk substitutes that allow those who are on carbohydrate-restricted diets to enjoy milk as a beverage, in cooking, or in cereal. In addition, some individuals have developed their own recipes for low-carb milk, typically by combining cream, water, and other ingredients to create a palatable product. There are also several non-dairy milks on the market that are low in carbohydrate.
The carbohydrate count for cow's milk varies by milk type, and whole milk weighs in at about 11 grams of carbohydrates for a 1-cup (238-gram) serving. For peoples on low-carb diets, this may simply be too many carbs in one beverage. Individuals on restricted-carbohydrate eating plans must frequently keep the amount of carbohydrate they consume to less than 20 grams per day at the beginning of their diets and may be able to consume only as few as 50 grams of carbohydrates daily when trying to maintain weight loss. As a glass of cow's milk can represent anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of a person's daily ration of carbohydrates, low-carb dieters may simply choose to eliminate standard milk from their diets and look for alternatives.
Some commercial food manufacturers now produce low-carb milk that contains dairy products, flavorings, and thickeners to provide users with a beverage that has the taste and feel of milk. For individuals who greatly enjoy milk, access to these products can help them to stick to their diets. Some low-carb milk substitutes are available in low-fat or chocolate-milk versions.
Some non-dairy milks, such as those made from nuts, are naturally low in carbohydrates and may be easier to find in supermarkets than dairy-based alternative milks. For example, unsweetened almond milk has only 2 grams of carbohydrates per 1-cup (248-ml) serving, and one of those grams is fiber, which is often not counted as a carbohydrate, because fiber may have a minimal impact on a person's blood sugar. Individuals who choose to use nondairy milks should carefully read ingredient and nutrition labels, as many non-dairy milk products contain added sugar, which can significantly increase the amount of carbohydrates in each serving.