Being able to eat cheese is one of the joys of the ketogenic diet. Following a daily macronutrient breakdown of 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates, cheese fits right in with its high fat, moderate protein, and low carb content. But while nutritionists have given cheese the go-signal in the keto diet regime, it’s important to know that some cheeses are better to consume than others.
There are cheese varieties with high carb content, making them unsuitable for the keto diet. If you’re looking to add cheese to your meals, then you need to know the best and worst types to have while on keto.
Dieticians have named cheese as the perfect keto food. It’s high in fat, contains moderate protein and most varieties are low in carbs, which is what the keto diet aims for. According to functional dietitian Olivia Wagner, RDN, cheese is keto-friendly and can add flavor, variety, and texture to keto meals.
Cheese has also been the subject of weight loss research. In one study, it was found that men with higher cheese consumption had a lower BMI after a five-year follow-up. While cheese can be a staple in the ketogenic diet, nutritionists warn against over-consumption. In order to aid weight loss and remain in ketosis, cheese should be enjoyed in moderation.
Not all varieties of cheese are suitable for the keto diet. When adding cheeses to your meals, make sure you go for these dietitian-approved keto cheese options:
Goat cheese is one of the most popular varieties that contains zero carbohydrates, giving it a sure pass mark from dietitians for the keto diet regime. It’s also a good source of fat and protein, containing 8.45 grams and 6.12 grams per 1-ounce serving, respectively.
Nutritionists also recommend goat cheese for those with digestive issues. Because goat milk has shorter fat molecules than cow’s milk, goat cheese contains less lactose, resulting in easier digestibility.
While not completely free of carbohydrates, dieticians say the blue cheese can still be consumed on the keto diet. One slice of blue cheese weighing 21 grams contains less than 0.5 grams of carbohydrates, 4.49 grams of protein, and 6.04 grams of fat. Blue cheese is a high-flavor variety, allowing you to add depth to your keto meals.
Many keto dieters swear by Parmesan cheese to add flavor to keto meals. Giving the dish a hint of salty and nutty flavor, it’s a keto practitioner’s go-to for nonstarchy vegetable dishes and salads.
One tablespoon of Parmesan cheese (5 grams) contains 1.39 grams of fat, 1.42 grams of protein, and only 0.695 grams of carbohydrates.
Cream cheese is a favorite among keto dieters, usually used to add flavor to keto meals and snacks. It’s also a common addition for those who need to consume more fat to meet their daily macros. One ounce of cream cheese contains 8.11 grams of fat, 2.01 grams of protein, and only 0.992 grams of carbohydrates.
Now, let’s move on to the cheese varieties that you should absolutely avoid while on keto.
At the top of the list of worst keto cheeses is processed cheese. Because they’re not naturally produced, processed cheeses contain added coloring, preservatives, and oils that are unhealthy for a keto dieter.
According to nutritionist Olivia Wagner, it’s best to stick to natural, high-quality, grass-fed cheese varieties instead of processed options.
The biggest chunk of the keto diet macros is fat, which should comprise 70% of a keto dieter’s daily food intake. So naturally, low-fat cheese isn’t going to help you meet your fat allowance. While most low-fat cheeses contain zero carbohydrates, nutritionists believe they won’t contribute anything to your keto diet. Full-fat varieties are preferred over low-fat options.
According to nutritionists, American cheese is often highly processed, making it among the unhealthy cheese varieties. Keto dieters also warn against consuming American cheese because of its high carbohydrate content.
One slice of American cheese (21 grams) contains 1.86 grams of carbs, a meager 3.38 grams of protein, and 4.84 grams of fat. That means if you limit your carb intake to 20 grams per day, one slice already takes up 10% of your carb allowance.
While easy to access and consume, canned or sprayed cheese is not a recommended variety for the ketogenic diet. Not only are these heavily processed, but nutritionists also believe they don’t have any nutritional benefits.
As per the USDA, spray cheese contains 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, and 2 grams of carbohydrates per ounce.
This might be hard to hear, but dietitians consider cottage cheese as non-keto-friendly. While it’s high in protein, containing a whopping 11.6 grams per ½ cup serving, it also has a carb content that can’t be ignored. The same amount of cottage cheese has 4.53 grams of carbs, making it unfit for a low-carb diet.
Enjoying cheese is one of the pleasures of the keto diet. But that doesn’t mean it’s unlimited and unrestricted. Nutritionists say that keto practitioners need to be selective with the cheese varieties they consume while on keto and enjoy them only in moderation to avoid disrupting ketosis and hampering weight loss.
Dietitians say that cheese is the perfect keto food because of its high fat, moderate protein, and low carb content. That said, not all cheeses are keto-friendly. While you can still consume cheese while observing the keto diet regime, you need to be selective about what varieties you eat and enjoy them in moderation.
According to nutritionists, the best cheeses to consume on keto are those varieties that are high-quality, full-fat, and grass-fed. Some keto-friendly cheese options include goat cheese, blue cheese, Parmesan cheese, and cream cheese.
Processed and low-fat cheeses should be avoided while on keto. Not only are they high in carbs, but the added ingredients are also harmful to your health.
Got cheese has the lowest carb content out of all varieties. It contains zero carbs while supplying you with 8 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving. Goat cheese is also easy to digest because of the lower lactose content in goat’s milk, making it suitable for keto dieters with digestive problems.
Mozzarella is a high-fat and high-protein cheese variety. According to the USDA, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese contains 17.6 grams of fat and 20.4 grams of protein. It’s also rich in calcium, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. While not the best option for keto because of its carb content (3.83 grams), practitioners say you may still be able to consume it in moderation.