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How Many Calories in Kefir?


easy kefir milk pouring

I make Kefir. What’s your superpower?


Kefir Benefits

kefir copy Kefir can be made with many different kinds of milk, be it non-dairy or dairy milk. It differs in calories and nutritional differences depending on which type of milk you use.  Kefir is far superior to regular milk. Fermentation is the alchemy of milk. It chemically breaks down milk with its abundance of bacteria and yeasts and converts the carbohydrates in the milk to lactic acid, leaving the milk with almost no lactose. It preserves the vitamins and minerals and increases C and B vitamins. It will help your digestion, boost your immune system, and give you loads of energy. Milk is demonized by many, and while milk has lost a lot of its nutritional benefits when we pasteurized and homogenized it, kefir transforms the milk into a healthy food that not only healed me, but has healed thousands of others. It feels like a miracle to me. The process of fermentation is a gift to us all and it  can heal and make us well. Make these microbes your friends and let them transform your foods into superfoods. Everybody can enjoy the benefits which is another reason I encourage you to make it a part of your life.

Label confusion

There is much confusion about the carbohydrate content on the packages of fermented food products. The government makes manufacturers count the carbohydrates of food “by difference.” That means they measure everything else including water, ash, fats and proteins. Then “by difference,” they assume everything else is counted as a carbohydrate. This is standard procedure.

To make fermented foods such as yogurt, and kefir, and other fermented foods the milk is inoculated with the lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria use up almost all the milk sugar called “lactose”, and convert it into lactic acid. It is this lactic acid which curds the milk and gives that sour taste to the product. So the milk sugars that the government thinks is still in the product, are actually gone, it’s been converted by these lactose loving bacteria. Since these bacteria have “eaten” most of the milk sugar by the time you buy it (or make it yourself) there are not many carbohydrates left. It is the lactic acid which is counted as carbohydrates.

Therefore, you can eat up to a cup of plain yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir and only count 2-4 grams of carbohydrates. Dr. Jack Goldberg of Go- Diet has measured this in his own laboratory. Kefir is 99% lactose free, which means all the milk sugars or lactose is mostly gone and this is why so many lactose intolerant people don’t have a problem with kefir. One cup of yogurt will contain about 4 grams of carbohydrates. Kefir has about 1 since there is more bacteria in kefir to eat up the lactose.

Microbes eat the sugars

Fermentation reduces the calories. One cup of whole milk has 12 grams of sugar (lactose) and 148 calories. Fermentation reduces the calories by 44 since most of the 12 grams of sugars will be gone. This would make whole milk per cup, 104 calories versus 148 calories, and the sugar count would then be 1 gram or less, depending on how long you ferment it. There will be fewer calories in lower fat milk, but this is a general rule. The microbes eat the milk sugars as a food source and you get probiotics instead of sugar. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

Goat milk has 47% of the vitamin A you need

If you want to make kefir with goat milk, you will still enjoy the benefit of reduced calories and sugars. I love goat milk, and it has different benefits from cow milk. Goat milk is easier to digest than cow milk, although transforming milk into kefir makes all the types of milk digestible through the process of fermentation. Goat milk has 47% of the vitamin A you need in a day, which is more than cow milk. However, cow milk has 50% of your B12 requirement for the day, which is more than goat milk. All of these vitamins will be more efficiently absorbed by the body when you make it into kefir. Goat milk kefir doesn’t get thick like cow milk kefir, but stays creamy. This is due to the fat globules in goat milk. These are much smaller than those in cow milk resulting in a creamier consistency.

Check out the recipe

Non-dairy kefir

dairy_free_kefir_backgroundNon-dairy kefir also has many benefits, but most non-dairy milks have smaller amounts of sugars so you will need to add some source of fuel (sugar) for the microbes to convert into probiotics. Each non-dairy milk will vary in benefits; but for the most part, the calories will be the same since you’re adding some kind of sugar in the form of date paste or raw sugar for the microbes to consume. (Amounts to use are in all my recipes.)

Check out the recipes

Kefir Calories

The wonderful thing about kefir is how easy it is for your body to digest it. Thanks to the help of its beneficial microbes, kefir is predigested and allows the body to speed the nutrients to the cells that need it for repair, growth, and detoxification.

Here is a breakdown of the calories in different types of milk kefir.

1 Cup of Milk Milk Calories Kefir Calories Total Fat (g) Sugars  (g) Protein (g)
Skim Milk 90 46 0 1 8
1% Milk 103 59 2.5 1 8
2% Milk 124 80 4.9 1 8
Whole Milk 148 104 8 1 8
Raw Milk 150 106 8.5 1 8
Goat Milk 168 128 10 1 9



12 Responses to "How Many Calories in Kefir?"
  1. Hi, Donna. I’m guessing that fermentation also reduces the carbs in Kombucha in the same way? I have some store-bought Kombucha and it shows a carb count of 9g (8g of sugar). I’m thinking this is either a) the pre-fermentation carbs or b) sweetener was added after fermentation (which still wouldn’t be correct because the mixture would continue to ferment in the bottle). I’m just not thinking this carb count is correct. Thoughts?

  2. More on my homemade starter… I am using ground hard red wheat that I grind fresh for the starter. It is bubbly all over. I bought a dried starter from another company and followed the directions to get it going. All I ended up with was a rotten smelling bottle of flour water on my counter that never got bubbly and never smelt good. That’s why I started my own and how I found your website on how to take care of a starter. For my homemade one I will try adding more flour than starter. I have been leaving it on my counter after I feed it unless I am frustrated and decide to stick it in the fridge for a few days. If you have any other suggestions please let me know. Thanks for your help, I may just need to buy a bit of yours:)

  3. This isn’t about keifer, but I have questions about my sourdough starter. Ive mAde one from scratch, and have never had one before. It smells great and I made one successful five min loaf with it. But I cannot get bread to rise now and when I feed my starter, within six hours there is a layer of hootch on top and its bubbly but never rises. Is this right? It seems more runny than yours looks in pictures. From your description it looks like it’s starving, but I do equal amounts of starter flour and water and sometimes feed it every four hours, but still a hootch. Any ideas? Could you describe how yours looks in the fridge, after feeding and before using. I have read and re read your post on taking care of the starter but I am frustrated. Thanks!!!

    • I had a lot of problems with my home made starter too. Is it getting bubbles all over? What kind of flour are you using? Try using less starter than flour and water and see if this helps. I eventually bought a starter that was strong and then never had problems after that, and have used this one for 12 years.

  4. Hi, Donna
    I got the live kefir grains on Wed. and on Thur. I strained it after 27 hrs . It was still like milk. I used whole milk.
    I don’t know what went wrong. My house is cool, (70 but cooler at night). Could this be the problem?
    Are the grains still good?

  5. As a result of eliminating and reducing all natural sugars from my diet for almost 4 years now, and losing almost 50 pounds without dieting, I am always looking at healthier ways of eating. I currently am on my 8th batch of Kombucha , and have had great success in adding rehydrated chia seeds to my second fermentation. This added fiber lowers the net carb intake by 50%!! I know on GT’s bottles that is what is reflected on the label, so I’m assuming the same is true of my ‘home brew’. Now that I am introducing Kefir to my diet, my concern is not to increase my carbs to the point where I begin to get into a danger zone of too many, and begin to experience the side effects of that; weight gain and cravings for sweets. Also, according to your above article on sugar in Kefir, I think the correct amount of sugar in 1 cup of kefir would be 1 carb, not 12g as shown in your chart. Am I correct in this? I find for me, I must limit myself to 35 grams of carbs daily to maintain my weight loss, so I really need to have accurate info on how many carbs are in a cup of kefir. I will probably use coconut milk for my base. Thanks! I love your enthusiasm and good will towards all who dare to venture into this world of fermented food and drink.

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