The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. There are a lot of different foods out there that may be unclear whether or not they are considered “keto,” cheese being one of the top ones.
So is cheese keto friendly? What about cream cheese? Is cream cheese keto? Are there many carbs in cheese that may affect the keto diet?
And what is the best cheese for keto dieters, if any? What about the best low carb cheese?
In this article, we will answer your question, is cheese keto friendly, and list off the best and worst cheeses for the keto diet.
We will look at the following:
- Is Cheese Keto?
- What Is the Best Cheese for Keto Diet Needs?
- Worst Cheeses to Eat On Keto
Let’s get started!
Is Cheese Keto?
In general, you can eat cheese on the keto diet, but certain cheeses are more keto-friendly than others.
Most cheese is keto-friendly because cheese tends to be low in carbs, but certain cheeses actually have more carbs than you may think and may be low in fat and/or low in protein and, therefore, not be the best keto cheese selection.
The amount of processing that goes into making cheese typically determines whether the cheese is good for keto dieters or does not provide the best macronutrient ratio for the keto diet.
Additionally, depending on the milk source of the cheese, the cheese-making process, and the fat content in the cheese, some cheeses are higher in carbs and lower in fat in protein than the best cheese for keto diet goals.Ideally, the best keto cheese types are high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs.
Since the goal of the keto diet is to minimize carbohydrate intake as much as possible and prioritize calories coming from fat, cheese that contains more lactose or milk sugar should be limited, whereas cheese that is keto friendly is especially low in lactose and any other sources of carbohydrates.
What Is the Best Cheese for Keto Diet Needs?
The best cheese for keto dieters is high in fat and as minimally processed as possible. Cheese that provides natural electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium can also help support the needs of those following the keto diet.
Consuming enough electrolytes has been found to help offset the symptoms of the keto flu, which can be particularly problematic when first switching to the keto diet.
Here are some of the best keto cheese options:
#1: Cheddar Cheese
Although cheeses span the gamut from funky and esoteric to packaged processed slices of American cheese, one of the most popular cheeses—cheddar cheese—is actually among the best cheeses for keto diet needs.
Cheddar cheese has a high protein and fat content while still being a great, low-carb cheese for keto.
Plus, unlike some pungent and astringent cheeses, cheddar cheese comes in a wide variety of flavors, from mild to extra sharp. This range allows individuals following the keto diet to find a taste that matches their palate preferences and particular meal.
For example, if you do not like the taste of strong cheese, you can eat mild cheddar cheese on the keto diet, while the same can be said for those who would like a good amount of acidic bite to keto-friendly cheese.
Not only is there a good range in the flavor profile of cheddar cheese, but it is also a versatile cheese due to the fairly low melting point and the decent balance of acidity and creaminess.
You can make a great low-carb keto-friendly breakfast by melting cheddar cheese on eggs or avocados, or you can snack on keto cheese with a sharp or mild cheddar as part of a charcuterie board or tasting plate.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of cheddar cheese provides 9 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and less than 1 gram of carbohydrates.
Gouda is one of the best keto cheeses because it is high in fat and protein but is a remarkably low-carb cheese.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of Gouda cheese provides about 8 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of carbs.
Gouda cheese has a creamy taste and texture. Despite being one of the best low-carb cheeses, it has a slightly sweet flavor.
This is a cow’s milk cheese that has a light yellow hue and a low melting point.
A couple of good keto-friendly meal ideas using Gouda cheese include melting Gouda on top of a burger, making a cauliflower keto mac and cheese with Gouda, or having Gouda cheese with nuts as a keto diet-friendly snack.
#3: Goat Cheese
As the name suggests, goat cheese is made from goat’s milk rather than cow’s milk.
This makes it particularly one of the best keto cheeses for those with lactose intolerance because goat’s milk contains much less lactose than cow’s milk.
Goat cheese is also known as chevre. It has sort of a salty, earthy, gamey, acidic bite to it, and it is not particularly creamy, nor does it melt well.
However, this is one of the best cheeses for keto nutritional needs because it is a low-carb cheese.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving provides 9 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and almost no carbohydrates, which is ideal for a keto-friendly cheese.
Most people associate goat cheese with being only useful for salads, but this crumbly cheese has other applications as well. It adds a creamy yet acidic bite to omelets for a low-carb keto breakfast, and you can sprinkle goat cheese on casseroles.
#4: Cream Cheese
One of the most common questions aside from is cheese keto diet approved, is is cream cheese keto-friendly?
Cream cheese is a popular cheese for breakfast, and it also makes a great creamy addition to dips, casseroles, and even keto mac and cheese as a source of creaminess.
The good news is that as long as you are getting full-fat cream cheese instead of reduced-fat cream cheese, you can eat cream cheese on a keto diet.
According to the USDA, 1 ounce of cream cheese has 84 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of protein.
While this nutritional profile is cream cheese is lower in protein than some of the other best keto cheeses like cheddar and Gouda, this high-fat, low-carb cheese still works well within the macro needs of the keto diet.
#5: Blue Cheese
Blue cheese is one of the types of cheese that has more of an acquired taste. It has a bit of a funky flavor due to the unique way in which this cheese is made.
Blue cheese is made using cheese cultures derived from a specific type of mold that is added to the milk. These mold cultures help develop a creamy texture and pungent, earthy, deep flavors characteristic of blue cheese.
This keto-approved cheese provides 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of carbs per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving.
Like goat cheese, blue cheese works well in salads, but it can also be blended into dips such as spinach artichoke dip, and it works well when crumbled and partially melted on top of steaks.
Another great keto-friendly snack idea is to have cheese crisps, which are basically just baked cheese that may have seasoning added to it.
Worst Cheeses to Eat On Keto
Although most cheese can be incorporated into a keto diet, and some cheeses work particularly well for keto, there are some cheeses to avoid on the keto diet.
The worst keto cheeses are those that are highly processed and that contain more carbohydrates and less fat. You will see that the carbs in cheese in this list will be on the higher side.
Here are some of the cheeses to avoid on keto:
#1: Cottage Cheese
Although cottage cheese is packed with protein and can be beneficial for certain diet types, this is one of the worst cheeses for keto dieters.
A 1/2-cup (114-gram) serving of full-fat cottage cheese (4% milk fat) provides 5 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, and 5 grams of carbs.
You will notice that the protein and carbs content is much higher than the best types of cheese for keto.
This is because cottage cheese is made by separating casein curds and liquid whey, which are the two major milk proteins.
Even with full-fat cottage cheese, most of the fat is strained off to optimize protein content, and the milk proteins are used to bulk up the grams of protein in cottage cheese as well as the natural sugars.
Low-fat cottage cheese is an even worse keto cheese choice, as the keto diet is intended to be a high-fat diet more than it is a high-protein diet.
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.
#2: Ricotta Cheese
Another bad cheese for keto is ricotta cheese. Even when you choose full-fat ricotta cheese, it is a high-carb cheese.
Per the USDA, a ½-cup serving of ricotta will contain 204 calories, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein.
Here, you can see that the carbohydrate content is quite high even though the fat and protein are as well.
#3: Low-Fat Cheese
As just mentioned, the best cheese for keto is high in fat and low in carbs.
Low-fat cheeses are processed and strained in a way to remove most of the milk fat.
To help provide more flavor and consistency, these low-fat cheeses are higher in carbohydrates and often contain additives and fillers for flavor, consistency, taste, and texture.
Eating too much low-fat cheese may take your body out of ketosis and will make it difficult to stick with the ideal keto-macronutrient ratio.
Considering that the keto diet focuses on high-fat, low-carb foods, it’s best to avoid low-fat cheese varieties.
#4: Processed Cheeses
Not only are processed cheeses like American cheese, spray canned cheese, and cheese “products“ that contain a blend of real cheese and cheese substitutes or non-cheese ingredients unhealthy overall, but they are also cheeses that are bad for keto.
Although some of these cheeses are still high in fat, they also contain unnatural ingredients or ingredients that are not keto-friendly, including preservatives, corn solids, whey powder, and industrial oils.
Keep in mind that diets that are high in processed foods are associated with an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, among other health issues.
Therefore, even if you are looking beyond the best cheese for keto but simply want to know the healthiest cheese options, you should avoid processed cheeses completely.
Need a few ideas of what to eat for lunch on the keto diet? Check out our guide to some of the best low-carb lunch ideas here.