Is Cheese Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Who doesn’t love cheese, right? Whether it is on top of some crackers (keto-friendly obviously!) or even a platter full of it, there is nothing better than a slice of this gooey food. However, you might be wondering if you can indulge when you are following a ketogenic plan.

Being a combination of protein and fat, it is an excellent option for someone doing a low-carb diet. But is all cheese keto-friendly?

In this article, you will learn all about cheese and the keto diet. We’ll see the calories and macronutrient content and tackle common questions like, Are you allowed to eat it and how much? What kind can you have? What can you have along with it? Finally, are there other low-carb alternatives?


What is cheese?

Cheese is a product you get from milk. It is made when you mix milk, salt, good bacteria, and enzymes. During the process of creating it, most of the carbs are removed, leaving only the protein and the fats. The creation of this food can be dated back to more than 4,000 years ago.

There are six categories:

  1. Fresh (mozzarella, ricotta, cottage)
  2. Soft (brie, camembert)
  3. Washed-rind (Epoisses, Taleggio)
  4. Hard (cheddar, manchego, parmesan, gouda)
  5. Blue (gorgonzola)
  6. Processed (cream, American)


Cheese nutrition information

While there are many types, the nutritional value can change whether they have a higher or a lower protein or fat content. Most cheeses have less than 1 g of total net carbs per serving, clearly making cheese keto-friendly.

Serving size: 1 slice of Cheddar (17 g)

  • Calories: 70
  • Fat: 5.8 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 0.4 g
  • Total carbs: 0.4 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 4 g

If you are using it to increase your fat intake, you can have a higher fat content than protein.

However, keep in mind that it provides saturated fats, which are associated with heart disease. Hence, make sure that you add it as your source of protein and focus on healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and seeds.

Finally, it is an excellent source of calcium. A diet high in calcium can prevent osteoporosis (significant in women going through menopause) and can help reduce blood pressure.




Is cheese keto-friendly?

Yes, you can certainly eat cheese on a keto diet.

It has the two macronutrients we want to focus on when eating ketogenic foods (proteins and fats). It is ideal for those who have a hard time including more fats into their diets or those looking for additional protein sources.

However, when you buy it, make sure to read the nutrition label. In some cases, when you are purchasing a low-fat version (especially when it comes to cream cheese), it might contain a higher carb content than the rest. This is because starches are sometimes added to keep the original texture, but in most cases, this is not too significant.


How much cheese is keto-friendly?

The amount depends on your total protein and fat intake. For example, if you are trying to have 15 g of protein in one meal, you might have around 2 oz. Just make sure that you add up the fat content that it provides.

Also, although it is very low in carbohydrates, it still has some, which means that you need to keep track of them to ensure that you are not exceeding your total carb intake during the day.


What kinds of this food can you eat on keto?

Since most of them are low in carbs, you can add them any time. Just make sure that you understand the nutritional value. For example, is it higher in protein or fat? Here is a list of the ones that provide less than 1 g of carbs per ounce.

  • Monterey Jack
  • Jarlsberg
  • Oaxaca
  • Goat/Chevre
  • Manchego
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Gruyere
  • Limburger
  • Port-Salut
  • Muenster
  • Edam
  • Fontina
  • Swiss
  • Colby Jack
  • Tilsit
  • Gouda
  • Provolone
  • Roquefort
  • Cheddar
  • Colby
  • Mozzarella
  • Queso fresco
  • Parmesan

While low-fat versions can be a great choice, just make sure that it has less than 1 g of net carbs per serving.

The benefit of this food is that you can have it in different ways. You can nibble on it as a snack along with ham. You can create a keto-friendly taco shell with it. You can even melt it over your favorite meals (like chicken, meat, or vegetables). The possibilities are endless.

Here’s a tip I often give my clients who don’t want to use cream cheese and want a higher protein option. You can put some cottage cheese in a food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water. This will give you a spread that you can put on top of your favorite ketogenic toast.




What can you eat with cheese on a keto diet?

Since cheese is a keto-friendly option, you can have it with anything that you want. Here are some foods that you can have along with it.

  • Veggies (melt some on top of broccoli)
  • Cauliflower rice (create cheesy rice by mixing it with cauliflower rice)
  • Casserole (create a casserole or a keto zucchini lasagna with all the cheesy gooeyness)
  • Savory waffles (along with almond or coconut flour, you can create savory low-carb waffles)
  • Olives (cut them into cubes to have a platter or a snack)

The sky is the limit with the possibilities you can have with this awesome ingredient.


Keto-friendly cheese alternatives

For those that are lactose intolerant, you might want to stay away from it or have it in small quantities. Thus, finding a keto-compliant substitute is crucial to maintaining your results. Here is a list of the foods you can replace that are still allowed on keto.

  • Nut cheese (cashew or almond)
  • Nutritional yeast (replaces parmesan)
  • Cauliflower “cheese”
  • Zucchini “cheese”

Now, keep in mind that these options, although they are ketogenic, don’t have the same nutritional content, especially regarding protein. Thus, if you relied on it to have an adequate protein intake. If you switch to either one of the foods above, make sure that you compensate by adding more protein on the side or at another mealtime.


Frequently asked questions about cheese on keto

If you still have some questions about the relationship between cheese and a keto diet, here are the most common questions regarding the two.

Yes, many types are keto-approved. However, you need to read the nutritional label carefully to check if they have added starches in them. This can make them slightly higher in their carb content.

Yes, it is allowed on a ketogenic diet since it mostly provides fat. Be careful with the low-fat option since it can contain more carbs than the regular version. If you use it, make sure that you count the carbs towards your daily macros.

Cheez Whiz is a highly processed product, so you should steer clear if you’re following clean keto guidelines.

Furthermore, it can have up to 6 g of carbs per serving, depending on the brand. This means that if you do consume it, you need to measure the portion size and keep track of the carbohydrates that it provides.

Yes, as long as you are having keto-friendly chips, you can have cheese on nachos. Along with it you can add sour cream, avocado, pico de gallo, and chicken. All of them are great keto-friendly options.

Normally, they are non-keto since they are high in carbs. There are some brands like the ones in School Yard Brands that offer a ketogenic option.

Yes, but tolerance depends on everyone. While some people can have small portions of cheese without having any symptoms, other people cannot have even a small bite. If you are prone to getting stomach issues when adding it, opt for the vegan options, and if you want to still go on a keto diet, try the dairy-free version.


Other keto-approved dairy products