Ketosis and cheese: Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid
Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid
Cheese is allowed (and even encouraged) on this high-fat, low-carb eating plan, but some choices are better than others.
Cheese lovers will be happy to know some varieties are keto-friendly.
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The ketogenic diet, or the keto diet for short, is a high-fat (70 to upwards of 80 percent), moderate-protein, and low-carb diet. A common goal on the plan is to change your body’s biochemistry and, in turn, lose weight.
“Following a ketogenic diet changes your fuel source from one that primarily burns carbohydrates to one that burns fat,” says Olivia Wagner, RDN, a functional dietitian and founder of Liv Nourished in Chicago. In metabolic terms, this process is called ketosis.
One of the perks of a keto diet, followers say, is that cheese is not off-limits. In fact, cheese is basically the perfect keto food: high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb. “Cheese can add flavor, variety, and new textures into your meals,” says Wagner, adding that the best varieties for the keto diet are high-quality, grass-fed, and full-fat. (Just remember: Cheese isn’t “unlimited” in a keto diet, as it still contains calories and carbs; it’s also high in saturated fat, which is a less heart-healthy option than unsaturated fats, per the American Heart Association.)
RELATED: What Are the Potential Health Benefits and Risks of the Keto Diet?
Cheese might not be the first food you think of when it comes to weight loss, and yet some research suggests the food may be beneficial for this purpose. For example, in a study on more than 2,500 men who self-reported their intake of dairy products, a higher consumption of cheese specifically was associated with a lower BMI after a five-year follow-up. (That said, cheese is high in calories, and so while it can fit into a weight loss or maintenance diet, it’s best enjoyed in moderation.)
Some studies have also suggested that cheese may benefit certain health outcomes, too. Cheese may be linked to better cognition with age, concluded one observational study.
If you find that your results are plateauing while on keto, you may want to take it easy on the cheese, says April Kelly, RDN, founder of Orange County Nutrition Coaching in Costa Mesa, California. “Sometimes people lose weight much quicker and feel better when they take out dairy,” she says. If you find you tolerate it okay, there’s no reason to omit it; but if you’re struggling with gastrointestinal side effects or water retention — or if you find that you’re not losing weight despite being in ketosis — it may be time to discuss the role of dairy in your diet with your healthcare team.
If you’ve decided to add cheese to your keto diet menu, you should also know that not all cheeses are created equal. Here’s what you need to know about which cheeses to eat, which to limit, and which to skip altogether on this low-carb plan.
RELATED: 15 Burning Questions About the Keto Diet, Answered
The 5 Best Types of Cheese to Eat on the Keto Diet
Goat cheese is an excellent choice for someone following the keto diet. It contains 0 carbs, making it a great way to hit your macros — 1 ounce (oz) of goat cheese also offers 103 calories, 8 g of fat, and 6 g of protein, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition, cheese made from goat milk contains less lactose (a naturally occurring sugar in dairy) and proteins that are different from cow’s milk, which makes it easier to digest, says Wagner.
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Keto Cinnamon-Orange Cheesecake Bars
Recipe by @thelowcarbcontessa Video by @lisathompson
contains Dairy, Wheat, Tree Nuts, Eggs
3.3 out of 36 reviews
1/2 cup (60g) King Arthur Baking Keto Wheat Flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 tbsp butter, chilled
2 tbsp King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 large egg
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp fresh-squeezed orange juice, add 1 additional tbsp as needed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup walnut halves
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp heavy cream
1/3 cup King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative, add 1 additional tbsp as needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang on two sides.
Add King Arthur Baking Keto Wheat Flour, walnuts, butter, King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative, salt, and egg to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until the dough comes together to form a ball.
Press dough evenly into your prepared pan. Bake until a light golden brown, and just set, approximately 14 to 16 minutes. Cool completely.
For the cheesecake batter: Add cream cheese and sour cream to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth. Add King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative, vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice stir on low until thoroughly combined. Next, add eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. Be careful not to overly mix the batter.
Transfer half of the batter to a separate bowl and stir in the cinnamon.
Alternate scoops of plain batter and cinnamon batter over the cooled crust, creating a checkerboard pattern, until all the batter is used. Gently tap the pan on the counter to release air bubbles and to even out the batter. Next, using a toothpick or cake tester, swirl the two batters.
Bake the cake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges are just set, and the center still has a bit of jiggle when gently shaken. Place the cake on a cooling rack, and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, cover it lightly with foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before slicing into 16 bars.
For the praline walnut: Add butter to a saucepan and melt over medium heat.
Add the King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative and stir to combine. Add the heavy cream, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and molasses, and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the walnuts to the pan, stir until well coated.
Turn heat to medium-low and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes stirring often, being careful not to burn.
Pour mixture onto a parchment-lined pan or plate and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, break into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
For the whipped cream: Add all ingredients to a medium-sized bowl, and using a hand or stand mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat or the mixture will become lumpy.
Spoon or pipe the whipped cream onto the cheesecake bars, top with some of the praline walnuts, and garnish with fresh orange zest (optional) .
Amount per serving
Dairy, Wheat, Tree Nuts, Eggs, Vegetarian, Low-Carbohydrate, Family-Friendly, Dessert, Ketogenic Diet
Natalia Zakharova/Getty Images
“Cheeses that are high in flavor — like stinky cheeses — give you more bang for your buck when it comes to flavor. They add a lot of complexity for a small amount,” Wagner says. Blue cheese fits the bill: One slice (21 g) has 74 calories, 0.5 g of carbs, 4.5 g of protein, and 6 g of fat, per the USDA, making it a flavorful and low-carb option for snacking or topping your favorite dishes.
RELATED: 10 Healthy Foods You Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet
This is a keto favorite, thanks to its nutritional profile: Per the USDA, 1 oz contains 84 calories, 8 g of fat, 1 g of carbs, and 2 g of protein. That means it’s a great addition to a meal or snack when you need more fat. Wagner likes Nancy’s brand, which makes a probiotic-rich cream cheese that’s cultured with live bacteria (like yogurt). If you follow a plant-based diet, Kite Hill offers a cream cheese alternative that fits the keto profile well.
RELATED: The Best and Worst Fats to Eat on the Keto Diet
Grated Parmesan is perfect for adding a hit of salty, nutty flavor to foods. Per the USDA, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of this cheese, grated, contains 21 calories and packs 1.4 g of fat, 0.7 g of carbs, and 1.4 g of protein. Pro tip: Make this cheese your best friend when it comes to salads. “A lot of keto dieters eat Caesar salads [sans croutons], and Parmesan cheese plays a big role in enjoying them,” says Lauren Bartell Weiss, PhD, a keto nutritionist in La Jolla, California. (Those croutons can tack on extra carbs to your bowl!) And finding salads you enjoy is important when you’re following a diet where it’s easy to fall short on vegetables.
Additionally, Parmesan tastes great on nonstarchy vegetables that keto dieters rely on so heavily. Consider sprinkling it over broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and more.
If you’re craving cheese and on the go, these dehydrated pieces of cheese in a bite-size shape are a delicious solution. “Clients [who are following the keto diet] miss chips and crackers,” says Dr. Weiss. “You can dip these cheese bites in guacamole for a high-fat snack.” Best of all, you don’t have to worry about refrigeration to get your cheese fix. One brand, Moon Cheese, has an “Oh My Gouda” variety that has 14 g of fat, 1 g of carbs, and 11 g of protein for 170 calories per 1-oz serving. Another, Whisps, offers an Asiago and Pepper Jack flavor with 11 g of fat, 1 g of carbs, and 12 g of protein per 150-calorie serving (about 23 crisps).
Unlike the other great keto cheeses listed above, cheese crisps are more processed and contain significantly more sodium, so exercise some caution and portion control while enjoying them as a snack.
RELATED: A Detailed Guide to Ordering Fast Food on the Keto Diet
The 5 Worst Cheeses for People on the Keto Diet
Canned or Spray Cheese
The USDA’s listed macros for spray cheese — 81 calories, 6 g of fat, 2 g of carbs, and 5 g of protein per oz — could probably fit into your keto diet. The problem: It’s heavily processed cheese that isn’t really, well, cheese. “These contain a lot of stabilizers, fillers, and oils that don’t provide much nutritional benefit. All you’re doing is adding gunk to your body that it doesn’t recognize, and that can lead to inflammation,” says Wagner. Inflammation is tied to many health conditions, including cancers, infectious diseases, and autoimmune disorders, according to research — so this type of “cheese” is one to skip.
Ali Majdfar/Getty Images
Just like canned or spray cheese, American cheese is often highly processed, and keto nutrition experts urge dieters to pay attention to the quality of their food — not just whether it meets their macro goals. As for those macros, the USDA notes that a slice of American cheese has 65 calories, 5 g of fat, 2 g of carbs, and 3 g of protein. Because many people on keto stick to 20 g of carbs per day, one slice may account for 10 percent of your total carb allotment. Since there are better, less-processed options available, this one’s just not worth it.
RELATED: 10 Quick and Easy Keto Diet Snacks Likely Already in Your Kitchen
Mild Cheddar Cheese
When choosing a cheese to eat on the keto diet, consider that many cheddars are mild tasting, and you may want more than one slice to feel satisfied. Sharp varieties provide a bigger dose of flavor, which may make them a better choice. Per the USDA, a ¾-oz slice of sharp cheddar contains 86 calories, 7 g of fat, 0.4 g of carbs, and 5 g of protein.
RELATED: 10 Types of the Keto Diet to Consider
In small quantities, full-fat ricotta may be fine on the keto diet. But thanks to its macros, you’re not going to be able to sit down to a big bowl of it. “Ricotta is higher in carbs. While it can be a good option once in a while, you have to watch portions,” says Weiss. Per the USDA, a ½-cup serving of ricotta will contain 204 calories for a whopping 14 g of fat, 9 g of carbs, and 10 g of protein.
Cottage cheese, like ricotta, is not as keto-friendly, and you should limit the amount you eat if you’re on a strict keto diet, says Weiss. While cottage cheese is known for its high protein content, it also contains a relatively high amount of carbs and not that much fat, making it a less-than-ideal choice for keto. A ½-cup serving of cottage cheese contains 88 calories, 2.4 g of fat, 4.5 g of carbs, and 11.6 g of protein, per the USDA.
RELATED: 8 Common Keto Mistakes That Beginners Make (and How to Avoid Them)
The Best and Worst Cheeses to Choose
The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet often used to promote weight loss.
The diet traditionally limits carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day to maintain ketosis, a state in which your body uses fat instead of carbohydrates as its main fuel source.
For that reason, certain foods are better suited for the keto diet than others. In particular, cheese is an ideal keto food due to its high fat, moderate protein, and low carb content.
This article reviews some of the best and worst types of cheese to eat when following a keto diet.
Those who follow a keto diet severely limit their carbohydrate intake.
Further, keto dieters typically prioritize foods that are high in fat to make up for the calories they miss out on when restricting carbs.
This means cheese is an excellent food option because most types are high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs.
Still, some cheeses are more suitable than others due to variations in fat content and level of processing.
Cheese is an ideal keto food due to its high fat, moderate protein, and low carb content. Still, some types may be better than others due to variations in fat content and level of processing.
These cheeses boast a high fat content and are minimally processed, so they’re a perfect match for the keto diet.
Cheddar is a popular yellow cheese.
Varieties range in flavor from sharp to mild, so most people can find a type that suits their taste preferences.
Per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving, a mild cheddar cheese provides 9 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and less than 1 gram of carbs. This means it’s a good fit for the keto diet (1).
With a perfect balance of acidity and creaminess and a fairly low melting point, it’s great for melting atop sandwiches, lettuce-wrapped burgers, low carb bread, and casseroles.
Gouda is a slightly sweet, creamy, yellow-hued cheese made from cow’s milk.
With 8 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of carbs per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving, it fits well into the keto diet (2).
Gouda has a fairly low melting point, so it can be used to top burgers or added to your favorite keto mac and cheese recipe.
Goat cheese, also known as chevre, is a creamy cheese made from goat’s milk. It boasts a tart flavor that is sometimes described as gamy or earthy.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving provides 9 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and minimal carbs, making it an excellent cheese to enjoy when following the keto diet (3).
While not particularly good for melting, goat cheese works well in appetizers, salads, casseroles, and omelets.
In addition, goat cheese is lower in lactose than many other kinds of cheese made from cow’s milk. As such, people with lactose intolerance may be better able to digest it (4).
Blue cheese is a unique cheese. It’s made using cultures of a specific type of mold to develop deep flavors and a creamy texture.
Its keto-approved nutrient profile includes 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbs per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving (5).
Blue cheese is great when added fresh to salads, blended into a dip, or made into a sauce to enjoy with vegetable noodles or steaks.
Some of the best cheeses to eat on the keto diet are cheddar, Gouda, blue cheese, and goat cheese due to their suitable high fat and low carb content.
Cheeses to avoid on the keto diet include higher-carb and processed varieties.
Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese made by separating casein curds and liquid whey — the two major milk proteins.
While cottage cheese is generally considered a healthy cheese option, its nutrient profile doesn’t work well with the keto diet.
A 1/2-cup (114-gram) serving of full-fat cottage cheese provides 5 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, and 5 grams of carbs (6).
While it’s not particularly high in carbs, even small amounts add up quickly. Thus, it’s best not to eat too much cottage cheese when on a keto diet.
Low fat cheese
Considering that the keto diet focuses on high fat, low carb foods, it’s best to avoid low fat cheese varieties.
Regular cheddar provides 9 grams of fat per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. For comparison, the same serving size of low fat cheddar or colby cheese has about 2 grams of fat. You can even buy nonfat cheese, which has no fat (1, 7, 8).
If your goal is to fuel your body with fat through ketosis, you should stick to full-fat cheese.
Another cheese category you’ll likely want to avoid if following a keto diet is processed cheeses.
This includes varieties like American cheese, spray-can cheese, and other products that contain a mix of cheese and noncheese ingredients.
While they usually have plenty of fat, they tend to also contain ingredients that you wouldn’t find in naturally produced cheeses. These may include whey powder, canola oil, added colors, and preservatives (9, 10).
A high intake of processed foods has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. That means you should limit how many processed foods you eat, regardless of whether you follow the keto diet (11, 12).
While most cheeses fit well into the keto diet, some types are not ideal due to their nutrient ratios and level of processing. These include cottage cheese and low fat and processed cheeses.
The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet. It requires strict adherence to maintain ketosis, a state in which your body uses fat instead of carbs as its primary fuel source.
To make up for calories lost through carb restriction, keto dieters eat many high fat foods such as cheese.
Some cheeses suit the keto diet better than others. This mainly comes down to their carb and fat content and level of processing.
The best keto cheeses include cheddar, Gouda, goat cheese, and blue cheese, while the worst are cottage cheese and low fat and processed varieties.
If you’re following the keto diet or know someone who is, be sure to keep these cheeses in mind to promote ketosis and meet dietary goals.
Just one thing
Try this today: Hungry for a snack? Make these keto-friendly appetizer bites. Spread goat cheese on a thick slice of cucumber, top with smoked salmon or turkey, and finish with another cucumber slice. Assemble with a toothpick and enjoy! You can add fresh dill, “everything bagel” seasoning, or mashed avocado for extra flavor.
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do’s and don’ts
The Best Types of Cheese for Keto
What cheeses should be avoided?
In this guide, I will tell you about cheese on a ketogenic diet: what varieties you can eat and how it is useful.
Most people don’t know that cheese has the following health benefits:
+ Cheese’s good bacteria improves gut health, metabolism and digestion.
+ The saturated fatty acids in cheese (including myristic and palmitic acids) increase HDL, small-density LDL and total cholesterol.
+ The saturated fatty acids in cheese (including lauric acid) inhibit bacteria and viruses.
+ Oleic acid in cheese prevents coronary heart disease and stabilizes cell membranes.
+ Alpha-linoleic acid found in cheese is an omega-3 fatty acid that reduces inflammation.
+ The magnesium contained in cheese lowers blood pressure.
+ Zinc found in cheese improves immune function and gene expression.
+ The selenium found in cheese reduces the risk of cancer, allergy symptoms and the risk of heart disease.
Best Keto Cheeses
Here are some of the best cheeses to add to your keto diet or use in keto recipes.
Serving size = 28 grams
Blue cheese: 100 calories, 6g protein, 8g fat, and 1g carbs
Brie: 95 calories, 5.9g protein, 7.8g fat, and 0.1g carbs
Cheddar : 115 calories, 6.5 g protein, 9.4 g fat and 0.9 g carbohydrates
Colby: 109 calories, 6.8 g protein, 8.8 g fat and 0.5 g carbohydrates
Cream cheese: 102 calories, 1.8 g protein, 10 g fat and 1.6 g carbohydrates
Feta: 75 calories, 4 g protein, 6 g fat and 1.2 carbohydrates
Gouda: 101 calories, 7.1 g protein, 7.8 g fat and 0. 6 g carbohydrates
Havarti: 104 calories, 6.5 g protein, 8.3 g fat and 0.8 g carbohydrates
Jarlsberg: 111 calories, 7.6 g protein, 8.8 g fat and 0.4 g carbohydrates
Monterey Jack: 106 calories, 6.9 g protein, 8.6 g fat and 0.2 g carbohydrates
Munster: 104 calories, 6.6 g protein, 8.5 g fat and 0.3 g carbohydrates
Paneer (122 g): 365 calories, 22 g protein, 29 g fat and 3.6 g carbohydrates
Parmesan: 111 calories, 10 g protein, 7.3 g fat and 0.9 g carbohydrates
Provolone: 100 calories, 7.3 g protein, 7.5 g fat and 0.6 g carbohydrates
Swiss cheese (108 g): 424 calories, 29 g protein, 33 g fat and 1.6 g carbohydrates
Whole mozzarella cheese: 85 calories, 6.3 g protein, 6.3 g fat and 0.6 g carbohydrates
Former “carbohydrate addict”, happy mom and chief editor of KetoDieto.
Ask the Expert
In general, the best cheeses for your keto diet are those that are high in fat, moderate to high in protein, low in carbs, and contain healthy probiotic bacteria.
Keto diet and dairy products
Do you like cheese?
Which cheeses should I avoid?
Avoid gourmet cheese products, cheese spreads and imitation cheeses because they are homogenized and pasteurized.
They are produced in large batches in factories and usually contain unhealthy ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and even sugar.
Examples of bad cheeses:
Packaged cheese slices
Packaged grated cheese
Soy cheese, cheese product and other vegan cheese substitutes
Low fat cheese
Processed cheese ki
- Cheese slices and pre-shredded cheese contain artificial preservatives and starch to keep them from sticking together. It is best to cut or grind the cheese yourself.
- While almond milk, coconut milk, and other non-dairy products are generally keto-friendly, most vegan cheeses are not. This is because most often they are made from soy, which is not a healthy choice for a keto diet.
- In general, cheese substitutes also contain less fat and more carbohydrates than real cheese. 28 g of cheese substitute contains 70 calories, 3.2 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrates and 3.7 grams of fat.
- Low-fat cheese is highly processed (bad) and usually made from skimmed milk (bad). Stick to fatty cheeses only.
- Finally, some cheeses contain less fat or more carbohydrates than other cheeses. Be sure to watch your macros if you’re eating cottage cheese or ricotta cheese.
Can you eat cheese on a keto diet?
High in calcium and vitamin D
Supports dental health
High content of vitamin A
Supports Blood Health
Strengthens the immune system
Protects against free radicals
This is a very common question that cannot be answered unambiguously. There is a lot of confusion in the structure of dairy products . While low-lactose, high-fat, protein-rich foods are fine for keto, low-fat dairy products are not keto-friendly because they are usually high in sugar and starch. Also, low-quality dairy products can affect your hormones.
For many years, saturated fat has been considered bad for heart health. However, recent studies have refuted this concept by not demonstrating a significant association between saturated fat and heart disease risk. We now know that having healthy fats in your diet has many health benefits.
Former “carbohydrate addict”, happy mom and editor-in-chief of KetoDieto.
Ask an expert
Remember: Fat is fuel. If you’re going to get fat from cheese, cheddar, which is the most popular and consumed cheese in the world, works well. Not only is it delicious, but this type of cheese is also filled with vitamins and minerals. Below are its main advantages:
High in calcium and vitamin D
These essential minerals can help protect your body from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin D helps to better absorb calcium, which is involved in building and maintaining strong bones, in addition to supporting muscles, nerves, and the heart. Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, especially among adults over the age of 50.
Supports dental health
Calcium and vitamin D also help keep your gums and teeth healthy. Most adults don’t get enough of each to meet their body’s needs, so it’s important to make sure your diet includes full-fat dairy.
High in Vitamin A
Vitamin A, which is produced by the body from beta-carotene, is vital for eye health. It is an antioxidant that can prevent dry eyes and night blindness; it has also been shown to prevent vision loss caused by age-related eye diseases.
Do you like cheese?
Zinc is an essential micronutrient that is required in small amounts each day. It supports growth and development as well as brain function. Zinc also strengthens your immune system, helps with hormonal function and the reproductive system. It acts as an anti-inflammatory that helps protect against chronic conditions such as heart disease. When you are deficient in zinc, you may feel constantly tired or often sick.
Supports blood health
Cheddar cheese contains many nutrients that support blood, bone, and muscle health—particularly vitamins B6, E, and K. Vitamin B6 and E help your body make red blood cells without vitamin K the blood will not clot.
Keto Cheese Chips
Strengthens the immune system
Probiotics, live bacteria that maintain a healthy balance of micro-organisms in the gut, are essential for a healthy immune system.