Episode 31: Should You Eat Dairy on Keto?

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Today, Stevie and I explore the topic of dairy, and the all important question, should you eat dairy on a ketogenic diet? Notes and links are listed below! If you’ve got any questions you’d like us to answer in a future podcast, leave a comment, or contact either of us via our social media channels.

How Ayurveda Views Dairy

  • Cows produce enough milk for their offspring, and for sharing
  • Dairy is nourishing and full of nutrients needed to grow a baby cow into an adult cow, or a baby human into an adult human
  • Important to note that ayurvedic recommendations are based on milk that is from cows that are actively nursing, treated humanely and unpasteurized
  • Pasteurized milk from industrialized farms is not recommended
  • Additionally, those who are kapha dominant, or prone to mucus should avoid dairy
  • Yogurt (raw) is recommended for vata types, and those with weak digestion
  • Heavy cheeses are not recommended, but those who are not overweight and do not have any blockages can eat farmer’s cheese (like paneer) or cottage cheese
  • Ghee – clarified butter, where the proteins have been mostly (if not entirely) skimmed off. Ghee is recommended, as it really doesn’t cause digestive issues for most people and is rich in fat-soluble vitamins and healthy fats.
  • See article for dairy recommendations


Should we eat dairy?

  • Morality and animal rights issues aside, whether or not you choose to eat dairy depends on what your nutritional goals are.
  • Dairy is anabolic – designed to build bone, muscle and fat.
  • Dairy consumption causes insulin secretion that is much higher than it should be for the amount of lactose contained
  • Likely due in part to the protein content as well, as neither butter nor cream appear to have this effect
  • Several studies have shown that milk (in whole, skim and part-skim forms) is as insulinogenic as white bread, if not more so
  • Most studies involving dairy are done with skim/fat-free dairy products, so it’s hard to really judge the results, as they are using a wholly modified food product


  • So, this insulin spike is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your goals


Building Muscle:

  • Not only does insulin shuttle glucose into the muscles to be stored as glycogen, but it stimulates protein synthesis by instructing the ribosomes in muscle cells to create more muscles
  • Insulin also inhibits the breakdown of muscle
  • Insulin also shuttles BCAA (branched chain amino acids) into muscle cells, which help with the synthesis of new muscle
  • Insulin also increases the production of the enzyme which turns glucose into stored glycogen, which is great for those of you who lift, or workout a lot


Losing Weight:

  • Insulin inhibits the fat-burning enzyme lipase, so your body can’t break down stores of body fat into a useable form
  • Insulin will spare fat and force the body to burn carbs preferentially
  • Insulin increases fatty acid synthesis in the liver, so if you are consuming an excess, it will be stored as body fat


Lactose Intolerance:

  • Not everyone has the ability to break down lactose, the sugar found in dairy products
  • This is genetic, and is influenced by ancestral diets of groups of people
  • It’s important to note that not all dairy contains lactose – fermented dairy usually does not, as the lactose has been consumed in the fermentation process


Casein Intolerance:

  • Casein, a protein in milk, has a similar structure to gluten and can cross-react, aggravating those with celiac or gluten intolerance



  • Dairy is inflammatory, likely due in part to the casein, and can often aggravate autoimmune conditions
  • Inflammation is likely the culprit in terms of of post nasal drip and mucus production

Main Sources:





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4 thoughts on “Episode 31: Should You Eat Dairy on Keto?”

  • Aside from philosophical reasons or medical ones some people may have, I don’t see anything wrong in drinking cows milk. On that note, I do believe it would be in our best interest to ensure dairy cows are fed a proper diet akin to their natural way of eating. Grass fed and well treated–Just like my butter. None of that BS corn stuff! Sadly, I can no longer enjoy milk, but I don’t have any problem with cheese ?? So pass the Brie and Ghouda!!

    • Hey Manuel! Totally agree – for many people, eating good quality dairy doesn’t present any health issues at all.

      And cheese is definitely one of the most decadent and delicious foods this world has to offer. I say if you don’t have any of the issues we talk about in the podcast, and the dairy is from a responsible source, then go for it!

      Thanks for the comment! 😀

  • Some of the fermented types of dairy avoid some of the problems listed above.

    For future podcast ideas, it would be interesting to hear something on low carb for people with thyroid dysfunction. There’s a lot of debate along the lines of “low carb causes low thyroid” and “no it doesn’t, people with pre-existing thyroid problems get diagnosed while low carb.” I’d be interested in what the science says about those of us who are low-carbers and have been diagnosed hypothyroid (for unknown reasons), but want to know what to do next. Can we lose the thyroid-related weight gain on low carb or will it make it worse?

    • You are correct about the fermented dairy for sure – we covered that in the podcast somewhere in the beginning (albeit quickly!).

      Thyroid issues are definitely on my radar for another podcast. This topic is so fascinating, and there’s a lot to untangle.

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