Keto Diet And Cheese: 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.
Dairy May Worsen Acne And Other Skin Issues
Can dairy cause or worsen acne? In some people, it might. Dairy has been shown to raise levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 , a hormone that increases sebum production and has been found to play a large role in acne.32
Observational studies in children, teens, and young adults suggest that all types of dairy, including cheese and yogurt, may be problematic for those who struggle with acne.33
Too Much Dairy May Cause Weight
Cheese, cream, and whole-milk yogurt are very tasty. Unfortunately, the flip side of being so delicious is that they can be very easy to over consume.
Yes, these foods are generally a good fit for a low-carb or keto lifestyle. But eating too much of them may potentially cause a weight-loss stall whether from too many calories, too many carbs, or a combination of both.
Some low-carb clinicians advise their patients to consume these foods in moderation. For example, in his No sugar, no starch diet Dr. Eric Westman recommends limiting cream of all types to less than 2 tablespoons per day and cheese of all types to less than 4 ounces per day. These are still pretty generous amounts.
For some people, further limiting dairy, or even cutting it out altogether, may be helpful if weight loss slows down or stalls.
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Watch Out For Dairy Foods That Contain High Sugars
When looking at the best dairy foods on a keto diet, it is crucial that you distinguish which dairy to avoid. These foods include low fat cottage cheeses and low-fat fruit yogurts. If you look at the carb content on low-fat yogurts, often it is enough to make your hair stand on end!
Most low-fat products contain sugar in some form or another, so it is important to be aware of the pitfalls in the dairy area. Milk is off the menu for the same reason it has sugars in it. On the other hand, full-fat Greek yogurt can be included in the best dairy on a keto diet. It can be used to enhance sauces as well as to enjoy with some berries on occasion. To learn more about what dairy foods to avoid see Keto diet foods-complete list.
I personally find that in limited quantities it can help to enhance your cooking options. It expands the diet possibilities enormously. Organic is best. Grating a little cheese on various dishes improves flavor. A good Caesar Salad is a perfect Keto option.
Adding some cheese to your breakfast omelet livens things up. Equally heavy or double cream is great for cooking sauces. Butter is particularly good on the Keto diet. Shrimps cooked in garlic butter and butter slathered liberally over asparagus are mouth-watering options that make the diet satisfying and easy to stick to!
The Takeaway: Certain Cottage Cheeses Are Definitely Keto
Cottage cheese can be a great addition to your keto diet. You can even use it to replace some other dairy staples like sour cream, cream cheese, and plain greek yogurt.
But there are two major caveats:
First, you need to make sure the dairy is full-fat.
Second, make sure that its a high-quality product. This means it comes from preferably organic milk, with no hormones or antibiotics added.
As always, cottage cheese is another tool to add to your keto tool-belt, and shouldnt completely replace other types of nutrition. Variety is always key.
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Health Benefits Of Cheese
In addition to cheese is packed full of healthy fats and protein, it is also rich in vitamin A, B12, zinc, sodium, and calcium.
Cheese is also rich in MCTs , which are especially beneficial on a ketogenic diet. For more information on why medium-chain triglycerides are so beneficial for ketogenic dieters specifically, check out our article: Benefits of MCTs on the Ketogenic Diet.
Can I Eat Cheese On A Keto Diet
All types of cheese are allowed on the keto diet, as cheese is relatively low in carbohydrate, which complies with the key principle of the keto diet.
The Ketogenic diet or keto diet is a low carbohydrate and high fat eating plan. Whilst there are variations of the keto diet, they all consist of high levels of fat, moderate protein and very low levels of carbohydrate. The ratio of these macronutrients is generally 55 to 60% fat, 30 to 35% protein and 5 to 10% carbohydrate.1
The table below provides the macronutrient percentages of some common cheese varieties. All contain either minimal or no carbohydrate and varying amounts of protein and fat. Any type of cheese can be included on the keto diet, as long as total dietary carbohydrate intake remains low enough to keep the body in nutritional ketosis .
The keto diet may have benefits for weight loss, but it is important to seek professional advice to ensure all your dietary requirements are being met. An Accredited Practising Dietitian can provide expert advice to help you eat well when following a keto diet plan.
- 1. Masood W, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. . In: StatPearls . Treasure Island : StatPearls Publishing January 2019
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Cottage Cheese Helps You Build Muscle
Cottage cheese is very popular in the health and fitness industry due to its high protein content. Diets that include high-protein foods help build muscle alongside an effective exercise regimen.
It contains a decent amount of casein which is a slow-releasing milk protein source. This promotes prolonged absorption of the amino acid leucine, which studies have shown, helps increase your body’s muscle-building abilities.
Is Cottage Cheese Clean Keto
Some people like to throw dairy products into the dirty keto column.
In case youre not familiar, dirty keto is basically convenience keto food. Cheap cuts of meat, fast food restaurants, greasy burgers all dirty keto.
If youre in keto for the long haul, dirty keto has to go.
Eating a clean low-carb diet means youre choosing high-quality foods like grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, and free-range chicken.
Therefore, as long as the cottage cheese youre choosing is high quality , it fits squarely in the clean keto category.
What To Do About Dairy Sensitivities
Dairy sensitivity can range from uncomfortable or embarrassing to life-threatening , so you should speak to a trusted physician if you suspect you may have these issues.
If you do have a dairy sensitivity, you may want to ditch dairy altogether. Dairy isnt required on the keto diet, and if it doesnt work for you, you can say goodbye.
But if youre just starting keto and suspect you mighthave a dairy sensitivity, theres some good news: keto can reduce lactose intolerance symptoms in some people.
It turns out the issue sometimes has more to do with overall carbs and not dairy or lactose in particular.
While there arent yet any studies to confirm this, anecdotal evidence suggests that by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation, some keto dieters can reverse lactose intolerance or whatever sensitivity was mistakenly believed to be lactose intolerance that was actually caused by poor overall diet.
Carb Counts Of Different Dairy Products
Why are some types of dairy high in carbs and others low? It depends how theyre processed and how much lactose remains afterwards.
In general, milk that has been fermented with bacteria is lower in carbs than non-fermented dairy.
The list below contains the number of net carbs per 100-gram serving of different dairy products, unless otherwise noted.7
0 grams of net carbs0.5 grams of net carbs1-3 grams of net carbs3 grams of net carbs3 grams of net carbs3 grams of net carbs4 grams of net carbs4 grams of net carbs4 grams of net carbs 4 grams of net carbs4 grams of net carbs4-6 grams of net carbs4-7 grams of net carbs5 grams of net carbs5 grams of net carbs13 grams of net carbs13 grams of net carbs 10 to 20 grams of net carbs
For example, when making cheese, milk is treated with bacteria that causes the lactose to be fermented into lactic acid, thereby removing most of the carbs. Additionally, the liquid whey that results during processing which contains protein, water, and lactose is drained off, leaving mainly casein.8
Similarly, during yogurt production, milk is treated with different strains of bacteria that ferment most of the lactose into lactic acid. However, it has a few more carbs than most cheese because some lactose remains.9
The amount of carbs a yogurt contains is mainly influenced by the fermentation time. The longer it ferments, the more lactose is used up and the fewer carbs the end product has.
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Best Dairy Foods On A Keto Diet
Cream must be included in the list of best dairy on a keto diet and can be used to create wonderful sauces. It is also great on berries as a treat. All dairy products on a keto diet should be full of fat. As discussed earlier, lower-fat options usually contain sugar.
Single, Double cream, and whipped cream can all be used to put on top of berries or to make sauces. One trick that I have learned is to use single or double cream with water to simulate milk. Because of the natural sugar content in milk, add some erythritol or stevia to mimic the slightly sweet taste that milk adds to a sauce. I have found this particularly useful when making a cheese sauce for cauliflower cheese!
Cream can also be used in Coffee and to make desserts.
How To Know If Youre Sensitive Or Intolerant To Cheese
Lactose, a sugar found in milk, is the most common cause of dairy sensitivities. Lactose intolerance occurs because lactose is difficult to break down and digest for people who lack the lactase enzyme.
Some people lose the ability to produce lactase after infancy, while others continue to create it their whole lives. While there are degrees of lactose intolerance, it all comes back to lactase production.
Lactase production is mostly genetic. Lactose intolerance affects 90% of people of East Asian descent, and also commonly affects people with West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek, and Italian ancestry. But only about 5% of people of Northern European descent are lactose intolerant.
If you have lactose intolerance, youre likely to experience:
- Facial flushing
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How Does The Keto Diet Works
The ketogenic diet comprises a drastic reduction of carbohydrates, which will make up only 10 to 15% of total daily calories. However, this quantity may vary according to your health condition, how long the diet will last, and your dietary goals.
To compensate for the reduction in carbohydrates, you will need to up your intake of fat significantly. This means eating foods such as avocado, coconut, seeds, cream, olive oil, peanuts, chestnuts, walnuts, and almonds. The quantity of protein in your diet should also increase until it comprises 20% of daily calories. It is, therefore, necessary that you eat meat, chicken, or fish at lunch and dinner and that you have eggs and cheese for snacks.
When you start this diet, your body will go through an adaptation period which can last from several days to a few weeks and it happens because your body switches to producing energy through fat, instead of carbohydrates. So it is possible that in the first days you will have symptoms such as exhaustion, lethargy, and headaches. These will disappear though, once the body has adapted.
Another similar diet to the keto diet is the low-carb diet, the major difference being that in the keto diet there is a much higher restriction of carbohydrates.
Is Cream Cheese Keto Friendly We Asked The Expert
- 6 minute read
Cream cheese is a versatile ingredient that many could not imagine living without.
It can be made sweet or savory and adds a creamy texture to recipes.
But many dairy products are not great choices while on the keto diet because they are too high in carbs.
Can cream cheese have a place in the keto diet? Lets take a closer look.
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Which Cheeses Are The Healthiest
Most people dont know cheese has the following health benefits:
- Healthy bacteria found in cheese improves gut health, increase metabolism, and improve digestion.
- Saturated fatty acids in cheese increase HDL, small dense LDL, and total cholesterol.
- Saturated fatty acids in cheese 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.
- Magnesium found in cheese reduces blood pressure.
- Zinc found in cheese improves immune function and gene expression.
- Selenium found in cheese reduces cancer risk, improves allergy symptoms, and lowers heart disease risk.
Here are some of the very best cheeses to include in your keto diet oruse in keto recipes:
- Blue cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Whole mozzarella cheese
In general, the best cheeses for your keto diet are high in fat content, moderate to high in protein content, low in carbohydrates, and contain healthy probiotic bacteria.
Kinds Of Cheese For Keto/low
Not all people on keto diets eat cheese and thats totally fine! If you cant tolerate dairy, here are some dairy-free cheese substitutes to consider. But if dairy sits well with you, then it can add some variety and nutrition to an otherwise restrictive keto diet. And one of the most beloved forms of dairy is cheese.
Cheese is the all-purpose keto replacement for crunchy-salty snacks. You can make it into puffy snack bites, crisps, pizza crust, ooey-gooey dip, and all-purpose high-fat deliciousness. But not all cheese is keto-approved some kinds of cheese actually do have a significant number of carbs. And there are a few really great kinds with very few carbs that many people arent aware of.
Here are 8 kinds of cheese that work great in keto or low-carb diets. Note that all the carb counts are both total carbs and net carbs, since none of these cheeses have any fiber.
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Dairy Is Tasty And Filling
Theres no denying that many dairy foods are delicious, and they can even help other foods taste better. For example, topping vegetables or lean steak with butter or a cream sauce can make a world of difference to the palatability and flavor of your meal.
As Dr. Bret Scher, Diet Doctors Medical Director, likes to say, Anyone who doesnt like broccoli or spinach, in my opinion, likely hasnt had them properly cooked in butter and sprinkled with real salt!
In addition to being flavorful, cheese can also be very filling. In one randomized controlled trial , cheese was found to reduce hunger and trigger the release of fullness hormones more than cream or whipped cream.21
Interestingly, a 2017 systematic review of 13 RCTs in adults found that although all types of dairy products seemed to increase feelings of fullness and decrease hunger, this didnt lead to reduced intake at meals later in the day.22 However, these studies were conducted in people consuming high-carb diets.
Unfortunately, at this time no studies have tested a dairy-containing low-carb diet against a dairy-free one.
Foods To Eat On A Ketogenic Diet
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The ketogenic diet has become popular.
Studies have found that this very low carb, high fat diet is effective for weight loss, diabetes, and epilepsy .
Still, higher quality research on the diet is still needed to determine its long-term safety and efficacy .
A ketogenic diet typically limits carbs to 20 to 50 grams per day. While this may seem challenging, many nutritious foods can easily fit into this way of eating.
Here are some healthy foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
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Hard And Soft Cheeses
Cheese gets the green light on the keto diet. But if you’re worried about your lactose intake, then Keatley says you’ll want to go for harder cheeses, like Parmesan, which typically have fewer carbs than soft cheese, explains Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, of the Nutrition Twins.
Semi-hard cheeseslike Swiss are keto-friendly too, Lakatos adds. Take a cue from Jenna Jameson and melt some semi-hard cheese over some eggs for breakfast . And while, yes, hard cheeses do have fewer carbs than soft cheese, that doesn’t mean all soft cheeses are off the table.
Brie cheese, for example, has less than a gram of carbs per ounce, per the USDA. Mascarpone and creme fraiche are good options too, says Lakatos, since they give you tons of added flavor and creaminess for very few carbs.
General keto cheese recommendations:
- Parmesan. One tablespoon of the stuff has less than a gram of carbs, according to the USDA.
- Swiss. Another good pickit has less than 2 grams of carbs per cup of shredded cheese, per the UDSA
- Brie. It’s the perfect spreadable cheese and less than 1 gram of carbs per ounce,per the USDA.
- Mascarpone and creme fraiche. Lakatos recommends these two for a cheese that will give you tons of added flavor and creaminess for very few carbs.