Is Buttermilk Keto Friendly? Carbs and Calories in Buttermilk

buttermilk calories

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink made from the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cultured cream. A bacteria culture is then introduced to ferment the buttermilk.  This dairy beverage is most popular in countries with warm climates where fresh milk tends to quickly sour.

The unique composition of buttermilk offers some interesting health benefits.  The separation process creates unique nutritional and technological properties that lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Buttermilk can also help regulate metabolism and boost immunity, among other advantages.

You may be wondering if buttermilk fits into the latest low carb sensation – the Keto diet.  Find out if you should incorporate buttermilk into your diet and how you can make your own reduced carb version of this dairy beverage.  You’ll also find a delicious recipe for Keto Buttermilk Pancakes later in this article, so keep reading…

Is Buttermilk Keto Friendly?

Dairy milk, including buttermilk, is not considered keto-friendly because it is too high in carbs. One cup of buttermilk alone contains 12 grams of carbs – all of which are from sugar. This is equivalent to the same amount of carbs in regular dairy milk.  Consuming too much of buttermilk on a regular basis can quickly kick you out of ketosis. 

With that being said, most people do not sit down to a full glass of buttermilk; instead, they incorporate a little bit of it into recipes, which is completely fine.

Buttermilk is typically used in biscuits and sourdough bread recipes because it helps baked goods remain tender.  In baking, the carbs in the buttermilk get spread out over several servings.  For example, if a recipe for biscuits calls for 1/2 cup of buttermilk and the recipe makes 12 servings, the buttermilk only contributes to 1 gram of carbs per biscuit.

If you’re strictly watching your carb intake or worried about spiking blood sugar, some lower-carb alternatives include real cream, fortified almond milk, grass-fed butter or ghee.

How Many Carbs are in Buttermilk?

One cup (250 millilitres) of cultured buttermilk contains 12 grams of carbs. If you’re following a strict low carb diet, choose from lower carb options, such as heavy cream, almond milk, or coconut milk.

How Many Calories are in Buttermilk?                

One cup (250 millilitres) of cultured buttermilk contains 99 calories.  If you’re more interested in counting calories than carbs, consuming a glass of unsweetened almond milk instead of dairy milk or buttermilk provides just 30 calories. This healthy alternative saves you 69 calories per serving!

Nutrition Facts

Amount: 1 cup (250 millilitres) of cultured buttermilk
Calories 99
Total Fat 2.2 grams 3%
Saturated fat 1.3 grams 6%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 grams
Monounsaturated fat 0.6 grams
Cholesterol 9.8 milligrams 3%
Sodium 257.3 milligrams 10%
Potassium 370 milligrams 10%
Total Carbohydrate 12 grams 4%
Dietary fiber 0 grams 0%
Sugar 12 grams
Protein 8 grams 16%
Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 28% Iron 0%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Cobalamin 8% Magnesium 6%

Health Benefits

Overview of Nutrients

Buttermilk is rich in vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin B12, calcium, and riboflavin as well as a good source of phosphorus. Additionally, it is a great source of protein and contains hundreds of different fatty acids, including conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Beneficial Bioactive Molecules

Buttermilk is a good source of unique bioactive molecules that have the ability to modulate cell signaling and transport lipids.  These molecules also boost metabolism and immunity.

Healthy Bones and Teeth

Studies show that consumption of dairy products, such as Buttermilk may prevent osteoporosis and lower the risk of bone fractures.  Buttermilk contains important nutrients that your body needs to absorb calcium, such as vitamin D, vitamin K, phosphorus and magnesium. All of which help maintain strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Prevents Chronic Disease

Conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids are associated with health advantages such as a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.  Buttermilk is especially rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Repairs Muscles and Restores Energy

Buttermilk is an excellent source of protein that contains many essential amino acids which help reduce age-related muscle loss and repair muscles after exercise.  Branched-chain amino acids build strong muscles and prevent muscle loss.

buttermilk carbs

Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

Several in vitro and in vivo studies support the claim of the cholesterol-lowering action of buttermilk components. Consuming buttermilk is a natural way to manage blood pressure and blood lipids among healthy subjects.

Peptides and polar lipids originating from the milk fat globule membrane of buttermilk are thought to improve blood pressure and blood chemistry.

Cardiovascular Support

Recent clinical evidence confirms the cardiovascular health benefits of short-term consumption of whole buttermilk, due to its phospholipid content.

Side Effects

Buttermilk is generally safe for most people when consumed in normal food amounts. However, many individuals can’t tolerate Buttermilk because they’re unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in Buttermilk and dairy products.  Lactose intolerance affects approximately 65% of the world’s population.   

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product and therefore it may have inflammatory effects. Dairy products themselves can also cause arthritis pain to flare up due to the protein they contain.  It can cause inflammation and pain due to the hormones and chemicals it contains since store-bought buttermilk is manufactured through an industrial process.

How to Make Your Own Buttermilk

If you don’t have any buttermilk in your kitchen, you can make your own in 3 easy steps using just 2 simple ingredients:


  • 1 cup dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or vinegar)


  1. Pour 1 cup of milk into a bowl.
  2. Grab one small fresh lemon or white vinegar. Stir in a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or vinegar into the bowl with the milk and stir well to mix.  
  3. Use in any recipe that calls for buttermilk and enjoy!

How to Make Keto Buttermilk – Method #2

Another quick and easy way to make lower-carb buttermilk is by using heavy cream.  Simply pour the heavy cream into a mixer and beat it at high speed. It will turn into whipping cream at first, however, if you keep whipping, it will separate into butter and buttermilk – both of which are Keto-friendly.

Keto Buttermilk Pancakes Recipe


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut flour (5 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon golden flax meal
  • 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Butter or coconut oil for frying


  1. Measure out the heavy cream and dilute it with water.  Add the vinegar to it, stir well and set aside.
  2. Put the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the whisk attachment on medium speed until the egg whites become thick clouds and cling to the whisk, with soft peaks, (but not be completely stiff like meringue).
  3. Set a frying pan or griddle to heat on the stove over medium heat.
  4. In the meantime sift together the coconut flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Add in the flax meal while whisking.
  5. Stir the egg yolks into the buttermilk and then slowly add that to the dry mix while whisking until fully mixed.
  6. Fold the egg whites into the flour mix until fully combined.
  7. Brush the griddle with coconut oil or butter. Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to measure out the batter and make sure pancakes are uniform in size (to accurately measure carb count per serving).
  8. Fry for 3 minutes on one side. Flip when the pancake starts to form small bubbles and the edges are cooked.  Cook for another few minutes on the other side and then serve hot.

Makes 3 servings, with each serving containing 8 grams of net carbs.

Related Questions:

Does Buttermilk Contain Lactose?

Buttermilk is not lactose-free because it contains milk sugar and proteins. Butter, on the other hand, is almost lactose-free because it contains only the fat from the milk. Lactose-intolerant individuals are generally sensitive to buttermilk, but not to butter.

With that being said, buttermilk is easier to digest for those with sensitivities to dairy milk, because the lactic acid bacteria feed on lactose, the sugar in milk that can cause stomach upset. So, if you’re sensitive (but not intolerant) to dairy, you might wish to try a small amount of buttermilk to see how it affects your digestive system.

Is Buttermilk Gluten-Free?

Buttermilk is completely gluten-free as it does not contain wheat, rye, and barley.

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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