Is Sour Cream Keto? We Asked the Expert

Is sour cream keto-friendly

Adding that dollop of sour cream to your food may be something you have been skipping because you weren’t sure if it is allowed on your ketogenic diet.

Following a keto diet means your main energy source is fat and you are carefully restricting carbohydrates, so is sour cream keto?

Yes! Although many dairy products can be high in carbohydrate, full-fat sour cream is actually low in carbs and is perfectly fine to include in your ketogenic diet.

Sour cream is also naturally high in fat. Similar to heavy cream, it makes the list of foods on the keto diet that are acceptable in moderation. 

Many dairy products do not fit well into a keto diet, but sour cream does! 



What Is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is made by adding an acid, usually lactic acid bacteria, to heavy cream (1). The combination results in a fermented dairy product that has a thick consistency and tart, sour flavor that contains at least 18% milkfat (1,2). 

Sour Cream Nutrition Facts

Sour cream is available in different fat content variations: full-fat, reduced-fat (removes out at least 25% of the fat), and non-fat (contains less than 1% fat)(2). 

Here are the nutrient differences for a 3.5 oz serving of sour cream:

  • Full-fat contains 198 calories, 2 grams of protein, 19 grams of fat, and 5 grams of carbs (3)
  • Reduced-fat contains 181 calories, 7 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and 7 grams of carbs (4)
  • Non-fat contains 74 calories, 3 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, and 16 grams of carbs (5)



Carbs in Sour Cream

When following a ketogenic diet, it is important to make sure you look carefully at the food labels and only choose full-fat sour cream options. As the fat content of sour cream decreases, the carbohydrate content likely increases which will work against your goal of staying in ketosis.

Sour cream gets its thick, creamy texture from the naturally occurring fat content, but when the fat is removed, something needs to be added to help give the final product a similar texture. 

Often times carbohydrates such as gums, modified corn starch, and dextrin are added as a fat replacer to reduced-fat foods to provide the desired consistency (5). 

As you are able to see from the nutrition information above, there is an 11-gram difference in the number of carbohydrates between the full-fat and non-fat servings of sour cream.

Carbohydrate recommendations on the keto diet are pretty low, limiting carbs to no more than 50 grams daily (6), so that amount can make a big difference when tracking your carb intake. 

Can You Eat Sour Cream on Keto?

Absolutely! You can eat low carb sour cream on the keto diet, but you need to make sure it is the full-fat version. Choosing the reduced-fat or non-fat version of sour cream, similar to other low-fat dairy products, contain too many carbohydrates and will make it harder for you to remain in ketosis. 

How to Use Sour Cream on Keto

Beef Stroganoff– This keto-friendly, gluten-free version of beef stroganoff is a tasty way to still enjoy a popular comfort food. Beef and mushrooms are simmered together in a cream sauce in this classic recipe, but to keep it keto-friendly, you need to skip the noodles and serve over cauliflower mash instead. 

Instant Pot Keto Yogurt -Traditional yogurt is off-limits due to its high carbohydrate content. Making a high fat, low carb yogurt that is acceptable for your keto diet is simple and only requires three ingredients, full-fat sour cream, heavy cream, and keto sweetener. 

Cauliflower Mash – Do you miss mashed potatoes? You can make a keto-friendly version that uses shredded cauliflower instead of potatoes. All you need to do is microwave the cauliflower and mix in butter and sour cream. Sprinkle with crunchy bacon bits, if desired, and you have a wonderful low carb side dish!

Topping for Soups – One of the best parts of having soup is adding on the toppings! There is no reason to skip using sour cream as a condiment on your favorite keto soups. Soups, especially taco flavored soups, taste extra delicious with a small scoop of sour cream. 

How to Shop for Keto-Friendly Sour Cream

Now that we covered that it is ok to include low carb sour cream on your keto diet food list, there are a few things to keep in mind before you head to the grocery store. Avoid low-fat options and only choose sour cream varieties that are full fat. Also, choose a sour cream made with high-quality ingredients such as organic milk and that don’t contain any artificial flavors. You can also find varieties that accommodate other consumer preferences such as sour cream made with non-GMO ingredients. 

Last Words

Sour cream can be one of your go-to keto-friendly foods because it is naturally high fat, low carb, and can provide added flavor to other foods. Be sure to read the nutrition label carefully when shopping to watch out for excess carbs, but when consumed in moderation, sour cream can have a place in the keto diet. 

References

  1. Aryana, Kayanush J, and Douglas W Olson. “A 100-Year Review: Yogurt and other cultured dairy products.” Journal of dairy science vol. 100,12 (2017): 9987-10013. doi:10.3168/jds.2017-12981
  2. Shepard, L et al. “Relating sensory and chemical properties of sour cream to consumer acceptance.” Journal of dairy science vol. 96,9 (2013): 5435-54. doi:10.3168/jds.2012-6317
  3. “FoodData Central Search Results.” FoodData Central, 2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
  4. “FoodData Central Search Results.” FoodData Central, 2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
  5. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. “Health Information.” UW Health, 2019, www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/special/fat-replacers-in-food/uq1419.html.
  6. Paoli, A et al. “Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets.” European journal of clinical nutrition vol. 67,8 (2013): 789-96. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.116
Hannah Foley
Hannah Foley

MS, RD - Contributor

Hannah is a registered dietitian and freelance nutrition writer. She has several years of experience working with clients to help them achieve their health goals. Her background includes sports nutrition, research, weight management, and bariatric nutrition. In her spare time, Hannah enjoys cooking, running, and spending time with her family.

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