Carbs in Half and Half: Is Half-and-Half Keto?

by Eric Gordon on March 03, 2020

What You’ll Learn...

    1. What Is Half-and-Half?
    2. Nutritional Content of Half-and-Half
    3. Using Half-and-Half on Keto
    4. Keto-Friendly Half-and-Half Alternatives
    5. Carbs in Half and Half: The Bottom Line

Half-and-half is a mixture of cream and milk, and many people enjoy it in their coffee. If you are staring out on the keto diet, you may wonder what the carb count is for half-and-half and whether you can safely continue to use it and stay keto. The carbs in half-and-half will vary depending on the type of half-and-half you use.

What Is Half-and-Half?

Half-and-half is a mixture of milk and heavy cream. Milk is the basis of most dairy products, including butter, cheese, heavy cream, and more. Milk is high in carbs, with 12 grams of net carbs in one cup, along with eight grams of fat and eight grams of protein. The cream is made from milk, and it has a higher fat content, but fewer carbs because it doesn’t produce lactase. While milk is typically avoided on the keto diet, heavy cream is fine because of its high fat and low sugar content.

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Half-and-half blends the two together, and it is further divided into different categories. It can be standard, low fat, or nonfat. Low-fat half-and-half has a lower fat content, and nonfat half-and-half is actually made from milk and corn syrup. Nonfat half-and-half eliminates a lot of the fat, but it also has higher carbs, with 9 grams of carbs in every 100 grams of half and half.

Unfortunately, half-and-half is not a good choice when you are on the keto diet. By replacing half of the heavy cream with milk, the fat from the cream is replaced with the sugars from the lactose in milk, and you should try to avoid it on keto.

Nutritional Content of Half-and-Half

There are three types of half-and-half, and the carb count varies from 3.3 grams to 9 grams per 100-gram serving. Low fat half-and-half has around half the fat of regular half-and-half, and all half-and-half has a variety of nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B12
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Selenium

Low-fat half-and-half has mostly the same nutrients, but nonfat has different makeup because of the added corn syrup. Of the three, nonfat has the fewest saturated fats, the fewest calories, and the most nutrients. However, nonfat half-and-half has nearly twice as many carbs because of the addition of corn syrup.

Using Half-and-Half on Keto

When you are on the keto diet, you reduce your intake of carbohydrates and increase your intake of healthy fats. The idea is to transition your body from using glucose for its energy to using ketones from stored fats. The only way to achieve this is to eliminate the glucose and glycogen in your body by reducing your carb intake to below 30 grams a day. As you adapt to ketosis, your body will metabolize the ketones more efficiently.

Even when you are counting carbs and following the keto diet, it is possible for sneaky carbs to make their way into your diet. In addition, there are some carbs in even low-carb foods. It is the net sum of the carbs you eat throughout the day that gives you the total carb count. For this reason, you should avoid high-carb foods, even when their carb counts are under the daily amount of carbs you can eat.

If you must have half-and-half, one to two tablespoons will probably be okay, but keep in mind that one-tablespoon of half-and-half has one gram of carbs. This can add up quickly if you drink a lot of coffee or use more than a tablespoon of half-and-half in each cup. It is best to avoid using half-and-half unless you have no alternative.

Remember that your body has been using glucose for your whole life for energy, and even though it can use ketones and do so more efficiently, it will always revert back to glucose given the opportunity. Eating carbs can also cause your body to crave more carbs, so you should be careful, especially when you are starting out.

Keto-Friendly Half-and-Half Alternatives

There are a few keto-friendly alternatives to half-and-half, and you might really enjoy them. First of all, whipping cream is higher in fat content, and it is lower in carbs. One tablespoon of heavy whipping cream has less than one carb and 86 grams of fat, and as long as you are careful, you can use it as a substitute. It is best to mix it with water and blend it until it is the right texture to add to your coffee.   

Another alternative that people use is butter. It has enough fat to keep you energized throughout the day, and it helps you feel full so you won’t be looking for snacks.

You can also try coconut milk and almond milkBoth of these are plant-based milk, and they do not have high carbs of half-and-half or milk. It is important to read the label to make sure that no sugars have been added.

Carbs in Half and Half: The Bottom Line

If you are used to having half-and-half in your daily coffee, you might need to make a new plan. Because half-and-half is high in sugar and carbs, it is not keto-friendly. If you are at a restaurant and have no alternative, you might get away with using a tablespoon of it. However, you should try to use alternatives whenever possible.

Half-and-half is made by mixing milk and heavy cream, and milk is the carb culprit in this case. It has lactose in it, which is a sugar and gives it a sweet taste, and the carb count is high. Heavy cream is okay because it is high in fat, and you can use heavy whipping cream as an alternative.

When you are on the keto diet, it is important to eliminate all of the carbs that you can. The reason is that there will be some carbs in your diet no matter what you do. It is best to stick with low-carb foods that only have a few grams per serving, and if you use higher carb foods such as half-and-half, it is easy to take your carb count up to high.

If you cook with half-and-half, you will need to use a substitute. While whole milk is better than half-and-half, you can consider plant-based milk, such as almond milk or coconut milk. These products are creamy, low in carbs, and lactose-free. To stay in ketosis, your body needs to be able to eliminate glucose and run on ketones. When you eat carbs, you are putting glucose back into your body. Because your body has run on glucose your whole life, eating more than 30 grams of carbs can kick you out of ketosis and cause your body to revert back to the old way. When this happens, you will have to eliminate the carbs again to get back to ketosis.


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