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Kefir & the Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is one of several popular low carbohydrate diets. With Atkins, little or no sugar is allowed and only small amounts of starches, usually those that are more chemically complex 1. The bulk of the calories comes from fats and proteins. Kefir fits nicely into this regimen as a food with low sugar content and a small amount of carbohydrates relative to fats and proteins.


Kefir is a cultured milk product made from just about any type of milk, either animal or vegetable. Its bacteria and yeast produce fermented grains that separate from the base milk mixture. The grains clump into a white or off-white solid substance that looks like cauliflower. Its consistency is similar to yogurt and so is its taste.

Types of Kefir

You can buy or make kefir from whole, nonfat, or low fat cow’s milk, as well as the milk of goats and sheep. Vegetable milk sources include rice, soy, and coconut. You can add any of a number of different flavorings to kefir including fruits, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, onion, and honey. Manufacturers or consumers sometimes add sugar to sweeten the taste.

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet limits the amount and type of carbohydrates you eat by having you select specific foods and portions 1. You also eat smaller meals at shorter intervals. The results of these dietary changes are lower and more consistent blood sugar levels and less storage of food energy as fat. As your body begins to burn fat rather than store it, your weight naturally goes down. Atkins dieters initially limit their daily intake of “net carbs” to 15 grams or less, and then gradually introduce more carbohydrates to reach an equilibrium point 1. Net carbs are the carbohydrate content of a food minus its fiber content.

Kefir Nutrition

The type of milk used to make kefir and the types and amounts of additives obviously affect its nutritional value. One cup of plain kefir made from nonfat cow’s milk has 110 calories. The 240 g serving contains only 2 g of fat, 12 g of carbohydrate, and 11 g of protein. There is some residual sugar from the milk, about 8 g, which is about 3 percent of the 240 g serving. With 3 g of fiber, the net carbs are only 9 g. Other types of kefir have varying amounts of nutritional advantages and disadvantages.

Kefir and Atkins

Because of the small sugar content and low value for net carbs of most Kefir foods, they should be good for the Atkins diet 1. Unsweetened kefir is similar to cheese in that it contains about 1 g of net carbs for a one ounce serving.