One of my most frequent questions about keto is, “Can I eat keto with no dairy?”
This is why I see this question being asked a lot. Many keto recipes and posts on social media are dairy-heavy. Many keto loaves of bread, baked goods, and other savory foods are dairy-based. It doesn’t matter if you are dairy-free or not.
A keto diet means reducing your glucose intake. This allows your body’s metabolism to switch from using sugar (carbs) to fuel to burning fats and ketones.
You can then ensure you are getting enough protein and fat. It can be not very clear to see a lot of dairy and cheese posted by keto-eaters. It doesn’t matter if a food is allowed on keto or any other way of eating; it doesn’t necessarily mean that you must eat it.
Many people believe they cannot eat dairy-free keto. They want to eat keto loaves of bread and even pizza crusts with cheese. It could be true. While you may desire to eat those foods, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in ketosis.
The short answer to the question, “Can I eat keto with no dairy?” is YES. Absolutely.
Do you feel limited in the choices that are available to you? Sure. However, this is true for many other eating ways that require you to avoid certain foods.
In 2010, when I started keto, I was already Paleo. At the time, my keto diet was dairy-free. This was before keto was mainstreamed or social media became very popular. Many people want to know if dairy-free keto is possible.
I began by simply being aware of the carbs in my diet and not trying to reduce them. I kept track of the carbs that I consumed each day. I tried to aim for 30 grams, but I did not worry about it too much. I later learned that net carbs were the number of carbs I consumed, minus the fiber. I ate 30 grams on days when I ate 40 to 45 grams total carbs.
I also avoided starchy and sweet foods. This was easy because I was already Paleo-eating. However, it was more difficult than I expected. My keto-Paleo diet is still focused on whole, unprocessed food. It had more healthy fats and fewer carbs.
How to eat a dairy-free ketogenic diet?
Avocados, coconut, nuts, seeds, healthy fats oils, and healthy fats and oils are all good options for dairy-free keto. I was completely dairy-free for the first year and a half of keto. It is possible. Just keep your eyes on what you can eat and not what you cannot.
Keto Quick Start lists all recipes that contain dairy. You can choose to avoid it if necessary. My previous books ( Practical paleo and the 21-Day Sugar Detox) are dairy-free.
Keto-friendly healthy dairy-free fats
A fat or oil naturally occurring in whole foods, such as dairy, avocado or fatty fish, is considered healthy. Ghee and butter are both natural-occurring, real-food fats. Both require some processing (churning), but it is unnecessary to introduce any nutrients that aren’t already in fresh whole milk straight from the cow. This is about as natural as it gets when talking about food that’s not in its original form, from the cow. Some people can eat butter while others can’t. Ghee is an alternative to butter if you are unable to eat it. Ghee is fat with no dairy proteins and can be eaten easily.
These are real, healthy whole foods that are dairy-free and rich in healthy fats:
- Bacon (yes, bacon! Particularly from pastured pork!
- Chicken with skin (especially dark meat)
- Coconut chips
- Dark-meat Turkey
- Fatty fish like salmon and herring
- Plain, dairy-free, full-fat yogurt without flavors, sweeteners or stabilizers
Nutritional yeast can replace cheese in keto recipes as a topping or flavoring. It’s a great way to add cheesy flavor to some Keto Quick Start recipes!