A keto diet limits your carb intake to under 50 grams per day, which makes weight loss easier as you aren’t spiking insulin.
Is Cheese Keto-Friendly?
You can eat cheese on a ketogenic diet because an ounce only contains one to two grams of carbs. However, although it also has a low carb content, try to avoid processed cheeses, as, they typically contain additives and preservatives that can trigger inflammation.
KetoConnect verdict: We give cheese a keto-friendly rating of ⭐⭐⭐⭐(out of 5)
Manufacturers use so many additives in processed cheese that the final product is barely even cheese, instead it’s a bunch of sweeteners and weird ingredients that are supposed to recreate the taste of cheese. This is why you should stick to:
- Goat cheese
- Blue cheese
- Gouda cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Provolone cheese
- Cream cheese
- Parmesan cheese
Cheese Nutritional Information
Of course, there are so many varieties of cheese out there it’s impossible to list the nutritional breakdown of all of them. But here’s how two popular cheeses, one hard, one soft, shape up.
Let’s start with Sharp Cheddar Cheese from Great Value:
- 120 calories
- Eight grams of protein
- Six grams of fat
- One gram of carbs
- 80 mg of calcium
You’ll also find trace amounts of vitamins K, riboflavin and zinc.
And what about soft cheese, you may ask? Well, one ounce of Philadelphia Regular Cream Cheese contains:
- 80 calories
- Two grams of protein
- Seven grams of fat
- Two grams of carbs
- 20 mg of cholesterol
- 125 mg of sodium
Best Types Of Cheese To Eat On Keto
If you’re looking to enjoy cheese while staying in ketosis, consider:
- Goat cheese
- Blue cheese
- Cream cheese
- Parmesan cheese
With a net carb content of zero grams, goat cheese is a go-to for many keto dieters. One ounce provides six grams of protein and eight grams of fat, so it’s perfect if you aren’t meeting your macros.
Cheese from goat milk contains significantly less lactose than cow’s milk cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant, give goat cheese a shot and see if your body responds well to it.
You may like our goat cheese tart recipe!
Blue cheese is another keto-friendly cheese that only has 0.7 grams of carbs per ounce. It’s high in electrolytes like sodium and calcium, making it a must-eat when struggling with keto flu.
The sticky nature of blue cheese offers a lot of different flavors, so it’s a good option for snacking or as toppings for your keto dishes.
But if you don’t like the smell of blue cheese and want something to bake desserts with, opt for cream cheese. An ounce has one gram of net carbs, so it won’t kick you out of ketosis.
The eight grams of fat per ounce also makes it easy to boost fat intake.
But what sets cream cheese apart from other cheeses is the live bacteria that balances your gut microbiome. Studies show bad gut health is linked to chronic issues like diabetes, obesity and colon cancer. So by adding cream cheese to your keto desserts, you give your gut a good balance of cultures and lower your chances of developing chronic diseases.
Like feta cheese, parmesan cheese is salty and nutty, so it goes well with omelets, vegetables and ribeye steak.
One ounce contains 1.2 grams of net carbs, eight grams of fat and 11 grams of protein. The high protein content is handy if you’re hitting the gym regularly and want to build muscle.
However, if you’re already consuming too much protein on keto, go for a cheese with more fat and less protein, like goat cheese.
Cheese crisps are a good snacking option because they last longer than fresh cheese and don’t have to be refrigerated.
I also like cheese crisps since it resembles the taste of store-bought crisps. So if you’re new to the keto diet and looking for something to nibble on, consider making cheese crisps as it gets rid of carb cravings.
Worst Types Of Cheese To Eat On Keto
However, not all cheeses are keto-friendly, so you want to avoid:
- Canned cheese
- American cheese
- Ricotta cheese
Sprayed or canned cheese is processed and contains chemicals and additives. Although one serving has two grams of carbs and won’t kick you out of ketosis, it isn’t really cheese. These processed products mainly consist of fillers, stabilizers and oils that offer zero nutritional benefit.
Studies show that some cheese additives are inflammatory for some people. All you’re doing when eating processed cheese is filling your body with junk that it doesn’t recognize. Your body triggers inflammation to combat these ingredients, increasing your chances of heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure.
Like canned cheese, American cheese won’t knock you out of ketosis, but it’s important to focus on more than just macros. The quality of your food is also critical when doing a keto diet.
One slice of American cheese has two grams of carbs and 65 calories. However, since companies process American cheese to the point where it isn’t really cheese anymore, it isn’t advisable on keto. Instead, use more nutritious alternatives like goat and cream cheese.
In a half a cup of ricotta cheese, there are nine grams of carbs, 14 grams of fat and over 200 calories, so it isn’t keto-friendly in high quantities.
But if you love the taste of ricotta, you can implement it into your keto diet in small amounts. I like adding it to my ricotta cheesecake, mousse or lemon pie.
Cottage cheese offers health benefits like stronger bones and teeth, but due to its slightly higher carb content, it’s advisable to limit your intake.
Half a cup of cottage cheese provides five grams of carbs, 2.4 grams of fat and 88 calories.
How To Introduce Cheese Into Your Keto Diet
If you’re looking for new ways to use cheese in your ketogenic diet, opt for these recipes:
- Crispy cheesy balls
- Keto cheese sauce
- Mac and cheese
Crispy Cheesy Balls
These cheesy balls are the perfect keto snack when you’re on the go. They’re also super easy to make since you only need four ingredients:
- Two large eggs
- One cup of parmesan or brie cheese
- Two whole jalapenos
- Almond flour
Whisk your two eggs in a large mixing bowl and add your parmesan cheese. Knead them together until it forms a soft dough, and begin cutting the jalapenos.
Mix your jalapenos in this soft dough and shape it to resemble small balls.
Dip your cheesy balls into the whisked eggs, so it’s moist, and put them in almond flour. The last step is to deep fry your cheese balls in avocado oil until golden brown, and you’re good to go.
Keto Cheese Sauce
Try this cheese sauce recipe! It’s a tasty yet easy-to-make sauce that you can dip your chicken, broccoli and keto crisps into. It takes less than five minutes to prepare and contains just a few carbs. This means you can eat as much as you want.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Two tablespoons of butter
- A quarter cup of heavy cream
- A quarter cup of cow’s milk
- One and a half cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
Simply add all your ingredients to a pot on low heat, stir until the cheese melts, transfer your sauce to a ramekin, and you’re good to go.
Mac And Cheese
But if you want a more filling meal, try this keto mac and cheese. It only require a few ingredients:
- One large head of cauliflower
- Two ounces of cream cheese
- One and a half cups of cheddar or Swiss cheese
- One and a half teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder
- One cup of heavy cream
- A touch of black pepper
First, cut your cauliflower head into small pieces and boil until soft. Transfer this soft cauliflower onto a plate and set it aside.
Next, pour your heavy cream into a pot and bring it to a simmer. Add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, garlic powder and black pepper to your simmering cream, and whisk until the cheese melts.
Spray a large dish tray with avocado oil spray, place your cauliflower in this tray with your cheese sauce on top and pop it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and enjoy. If you’d like to add more cheese, feel free to sprinkle some on your mac and cheese as soon as you remove it from the oven since it’ll melt.
Final Thoughts On Low-Carb Cheese
Cheese is a keto-friendly food that contains almost no carbs. But it’s essential to stick to healthy cheeses like goat cheese, gruyere cheese and mild cheddar cheese since processed cheese triggers inflammation, and promote the development of serious long-term health issues.
If you’re looking for new and creative ways to introduce cheese into your diet, try making some cheese balls, cheese sauce and keto mac and cheese. These recipes don’t take much effort, and provide your body with fat needed to produce ketones.
Matt is a former college basketball player turned computer engineer who discovered his passion for health and nutrition after cutting sugar from his diet in 2016. That year he founded KetoConnect with Megha in order to share their ketogenic lifestyle through recipes, videos, and educational content. Matt is always seeking to grow and try new things, a passion he shares with his wife and two amazing sons.
Expert Fact Checker
Kathryn (Katy) Bubeck, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian with bachelor’s degrees in nutrition (University of Alabama) and health behavior management (University of Delaware). Originally from the Philadelphia suburbs, Katy has moved up and down the east coast for the past 20 years, and recently relocated to Baltimore, where she plans to eat ALL the seafood!