Chocolate milk isn't typically a beverage you drink when you're following a low-carb diet. With its sugar, chocolate and milk ingredients, it boasts a significant 29 grams of carbs per cup.
A moderate-carb dieter sticking to 100 to 150 grams of net carbs per day might be able to afford this splurge once in a while, but people following lower carb diets of 75, 50 or 20 grams daily definitely can't fit regular chocolate milk into their diets.
If you're willing to experiment with non-conventional chocolate milk ingredients, you can create a creamy, sweet drink that has the taste of chocolate milk with fewer carbs. Alternative milks and artificial sweeteners are key in cutting the carb count.
Low-Carb Chocolate Milk Made With Syrup
Regular cow's milk has about 12 grams of carbs per cup. Sub in unsweetened almond or coconut milk for just 1 gram of net carbs. Even unsweetened soy milk could be used, for 2 grams of net carbs per cup. Net carbs are those that impact your blood sugar and are found by subtracting sugar alcohol and fiber from the total carbohydrate count.
For the quickest, easiest version of low-carb chocolate milk, stir in a few tablespoons of a sugar-free chocolate syrup to add zero carbs. The syrup may not blend smoothly, so you may have to whip it with the milk in a blender for a few seconds. You probably won't need to include additional sweetener, as the syrup is usually quite sweet itself.
These milks do have a slightly different flavor and thickness than the cow's milk you might be accustomed to, but when you add sweetener and chocolate, your taste buds may adapt.
Low-Carb Chocolate Milk Powder
Alternatively, make a powdered mix to store in a jar and use whenever you want a glass. Include cocoa powder -- with 3 grams of carbs per 2 tablespoons -- and an artificial sweetener of choice. Options include stevia powder or sucralose.
Artificial sweeteners still have some carbs, but you use so little you'll only get about 1 gram even if you use the entire contents of one packet. Keep in mind that sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way.
You'll need to add the powder to a shaker bottle or blender to mix with the milk -- otherwise, it won't dissolve well.
Homemade Low-Carb Chocolate Protein Shakes
A protein smoothie can give you the rich, creamy taste of chocolate milk without the carbs. Blend together almond or coconut milk, cocoa powder, stevia or sucralose, ice cubes and unsweetened whey protein -- make sure it's a brand with no added sugars or fillers so it's carb-free. Blend until smooth and frothy, and enjoy.
Use some heavy cream in lieu of the coconut or almond milk for an even creamier version. Adding 1/4 cup of heavy cream contributes about 2 grams of carbs to your shake.
Commercial Options for Low-Carb Chocolate Drinks
Atkins, the company that promotes low-carb eating, sells a commercial, ready-to-drink, low-carb chocolate shake with just 3 grams of net carbs per serving. Other brands also sell ready-to-drink chocolate-flavored protein shakes that resemble chocolate milk in texture and taste. Remember to check the label to make sure the net carbs are low enough to fit into your plan.