Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (2024)

Ketogenic Diet

Cheese is allowed (and even encouraged) on this high-fat, low-carb eating plan, but some choices are better than others.

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (1)


Jessica Migala

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (2)


Kara Andrew, RDN, LDNcourtesy ofAmerican College of Lifestyle Medicine

Updated on July 18, 2023

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (3)

Cheese lovers will be happy to know some varieties are keto-friendly.

Theketogenic diet, or the keto diet for short, is a high-fat (70 to upwards of 80 percent), moderate-protein, and low-carb diet. A common goal on the plan is to change your body’s biochemistry and, in turn, lose weight.

“Following a ketogenic diet changes your fuel source from one that primarily burns carbohydrates to one that burns fat,” says Olivia Wagner, RDN, a functional dietitian and founder of Liv Nourished in Chicago. In metabolic terms, this process is calledketosis.

One of the perks of aketo diet, followers say, is that cheese is not off-limits. In fact, cheese is basically the perfect keto food: high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb. “Cheese can add flavor, variety, and new textures into your meals,” says Wagner, adding that the best varieties for the keto diet are high-quality, grass-fed, and full-fat. (Just remember: Cheese isn’t “unlimited” in a keto diet, as it still contains calories and carbs; it’s also high in saturated fat, which is a less heart-healthy option than unsaturated fats, per the American Heart Association.)

RELATED:What Are the Potential Health Benefits and Risks of the Keto Diet?

Cheese might not be the first food you think of when it comes to weight loss, and yet some research suggests the food may be beneficial for this purpose. For example, in a study on more than 2,500 men who self-reported their intake of dairy products, a higher consumption of cheese specifically was associated with a lower BMI after a five-year follow-up. (That said, cheese is high in calories, and so while it can fit into a weight loss or maintenance diet, it’s best enjoyed in moderation.)

Some studies have also suggested that cheese may benefit certain health outcomes, too. Cheese may be linked to better cognition with age, concluded one observational study.

If you find that your results are plateauing while on keto, you may want to take it easy on the cheese, says April Kelly, RDN, founder of Orange County Nutrition Coaching in Costa Mesa, California. “Sometimes people lose weight much quicker and feel better when they take out dairy,” she says. If you find you tolerate it okay, there’s no reason to omit it; but if you’re struggling with gastrointestinal side effects or water retention — or if you find that you’re not losing weight despite being in ketosis — it may be time to discuss the role of dairy in your diet with your healthcare team.

If you’ve decided to add cheese to your keto diet menu, you should also know that not all cheeses are created equal. Here’s what you need to know about which cheeses to eat, which to limit, and which to skip altogether on this low-carb plan.

RELATED: 15 Burning Questions About the Keto Diet, Answered

The 5 Best Types of Cheese to Eat on the Keto Diet

Goat Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (4)

Goat cheese is an excellent choice for someone following the keto diet. It contains 0 carbs, making it a great way to hit your macros — 1 ounce (oz) of goat cheese also offers 103 calories, 8 g of fat, and 6 g of protein,according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition, cheese made from goat milk contains less lactose (a naturally occurring sugar in dairy) and proteins that are different from cow’s milk, which makes it easier to digest, says Wagner.

Blue Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (5)

“Cheeses that are high in flavor — like stinky cheeses — give you more bang for your buck when it comes to flavor. They add a lot of complexity for a small amount,” Wagner says.Blue cheesefits the bill: One slice (21 g) has 74 calories, 0.5 g of carbs, 4.5 g of protein, and 6 g of fat, per the USDA, making it a flavorful and low-carb option for snacking or topping your favorite dishes.

RELATED:10 Healthy Foods You Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet

Cream Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (6)

This is a keto favorite, thanks to its nutritional profile:Per the USDA, 1 ozcontains 84 calories, 8 g of fat, 1 g of carbs, and 2 g of protein. That means it’s a great addition to a meal or snack when you need more fat. Wagner likes Nancy’s brand, which makes aprobiotic-rich cream cheese that’s cultured with live bacteria (like yogurt).If you follow a plant-based diet, Kite Hill offers a cream cheese alternative that fits the keto profile well.

RELATED: The Best and Worst Fats to Eat on the Keto Diet

Parmesan Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (7)

Grated Parmesan is perfect for adding a hit of salty, nutty flavor to foods. Per the USDA, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of this cheese, grated, contains 21 calories and packs 1.4 g of fat, 0.7 g of carbs, and 1.4 g of protein. Pro tip: Make this cheese your best friend when it comes to salads. “A lot of keto dieters eat Caesar salads [sans croutons], and Parmesan cheese plays a big role in enjoying them,” says Lauren Bartell Weiss, PhD, a keto nutritionist in La Jolla, California. (Those croutons can tack on extra carbs to your bowl!) And finding salads you enjoy is important when you’re following a diet where it’s easy to fall short on vegetables.

Additionally, Parmesan tastes great on nonstarchy vegetables that keto dieters rely on so heavily. Consider sprinkling it over broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and more.

Cheese Crisps

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (8)

If you’re craving cheese and on the go, these dehydrated pieces of cheese in a bite-size shape are a delicious solution. “Clients [who are following the keto diet] miss chips and crackers,” says Dr. Weiss. “You can dip these cheese bites in guacamole for a high-fat snack.” Best of all, you don’t have to worry about refrigeration to get your cheese fix. One brand, Moon Cheese, has an “Oh My Gouda” variety that has 14 g of fat, 1 g of carbs, and 11 g of protein for 170 calories per 1-oz serving. Another, Whisps, offers an Asiago and Pepper Jack flavor with 11 g of fat, 1 g of carbs, and 12 g of protein per 150-calorie serving (about 23 crisps).

Unlike the other great keto cheeses listed above, cheese crisps are more processed and contain significantly more sodium, so exercise some caution and portion control while enjoying them as a snack.

RELATED:A Detailed Guide to Ordering Fast Food on the Keto Diet

The 5 Worst Cheeses for People on the Keto Diet

Canned or Spray Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (9)

The USDA’s listed macros for spray cheese — 81 calories, 6 g of fat, 2 g of carbs, and 5 g of protein per oz — could probably fit into your keto diet. The problem: It’s heavily processed cheese that isn’t really, well, cheese. “These contain a lot of stabilizers, fillers, and oils that don’t provide much nutritional benefit. All you’re doing is adding gunk to your body that it doesn’t recognize, and that can lead to inflammation,” says Wagner. Inflammation is tied to many health conditions, including cancers, infectious diseases, and autoimmune disorders, according to research— so this type of “cheese” is one to skip.

American Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (10)

Just like canned or spray cheese, American cheese is often highly processed, and keto nutrition experts urge dieters to pay attention to the quality of their food — not just whether it meets their macro goals. As for those macros, the USDA notes that a slice ofAmerican cheesehas 65 calories, 5 g of fat, 2 g of carbs, and 3 g of protein. Because many people on keto stick to 20 g of carbs per day, one slice may account for 10 percent of your total carb allotment. Since there are better, less-processed options available, this one’s just not worth it.

RELATED:10 Quick and Easy Keto Diet Snacks Likely Already in Your Kitchen

Mild Cheddar Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (11)

When choosing a cheese to eat on the keto diet, consider that many cheddars are mild tasting, and you may want more than one slice to feel satisfied. Sharp varieties provide a bigger dose of flavor, which may make them a better choice. Per the USDA, a ¾-oz slice of sharp cheddar contains 86 calories, 7 g of fat, 0.4 g of carbs, and 5 g of protein.

RELATED: 10 Types of the Keto Diet to Consider

Ricotta Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (12)

In small quantities, full-fat ricotta may be fine on the keto diet. But thanks to its macros, you’re not going to be able to sit down to a big bowl of it. “Ricotta is higher in carbs. While it can be a good option once in a while, you have to watch portions,” says Weiss. Per the USDA, a ½-cup serving ofricottawill contain 204 calories for a whopping 14 g of fat, 9 g of carbs, and 10 g of protein.

Cottage Cheese

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (13)

Cottage cheese, like ricotta, is not as keto-friendly, and you should limit the amount you eat if you’re on a strict keto diet, says Weiss. While cottage cheese is known for its high protein content, it also contains a relatively high amount of carbs and not that much fat, making it a less-than-ideal choice for keto. A ½-cup serving of cottage cheese contains 88 calories, 2.4 g of fat, 4.5 g of carbs, and 11.6 g of protein, per the USDA.

RELATED:8 Common Keto Mistakes That Beginners Make (and How to Avoid Them)

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.


Show Less

Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid (2024)


Keto Diet Cheese: 5 Types to Eat and 5 Types to Avoid? ›

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.

What cheese is not allowed on keto? ›

You can eat high fat foods like cheese on the Keto diet. Cheddar, Gouda, goat cheese, and blue cheese are the best to consider. Cheese to avoid on Keto are cottage cheese and low fat and processed varieties.

Which type of cheese is best for keto? ›

Soft and semi-soft cheeses often have more lactose (carbs), while semi-hard and hard cheeses usually have less lactose and are better keto cheese. Choose full-fat cheeses whenever possible, and steer clear of any with added starch or sweeteners.

Can I eat cheese everyday on keto? ›

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.

Is mozzarella cheese keto-friendly? ›

Unlike most cheeses, Mozzarella is enjoyed fresh, rather than being aged! With a total carb count of 1 gram per ounce, it is yet another keto-friendly cheese to keep on-hand. Mozzarella also contains probiotics, which have shown to improve digestive health and emotional health!

Can I eat peanut butter on keto? ›

Peanut butter can definitely be part of a keto diet, but it's best to stick to plain options that are free of extra flavors and sweeteners. Almond butter is a good choice, too, and it's slightly lower in carbs. Additionally, you should be mindful of your portion size if you're trying to lose weight.

Can you eat tomatoes on keto? ›

Can you eat tomatoes on the keto diet? "Tomatoes are keto," says Abby Langer, R.D., author of Good Food, Bad Diet. "They're low in carbs, so they fit perfectly into keto." One whole medium tomato contains roughly 5 grams of carbohydrates, of which 1.5 grams are fiber and 3 grams are sugar.

Which butter is good for keto? ›

Grass-grazed raw butter may be one of the healthiest dairy products on a ketogenic diet menu. Grass-grazed raw butter is basically pure raw fat; it has zero carbs, zero sugars and zero grams of protein. As you can see, most of butters' fat is saturated.

What fruits can I eat on keto? ›

Keto fruits by definition are low in carbohydrates. You still need to exercise portion control with most keto-friendly fruits to be within the limits of a keto diet. Keto-friendly fruits include avocados, watermelon, strawberries, lemons, tomatoes, raspberries, peaches, cantaloupe, star fruit, and blackberries.

Is sour cream keto friendly? ›

Regular, full fat sour cream is made from cream and contains far more fat than carbs. Therefore, it's considered keto-friendly. However, low fat or nonfat sour cream is not. Full fat sour cream can provide some variety in a keto diet when used as a dip base or incorporated into recipes to boost the fat content.

Can I eat bacon on keto? ›

While you may not think of bacon as diet food, most types of bacon fit perfectly into a keto diet plan since they're low in carbs yet high in protein and fat. That means bacon is perfect for snacking on in the afternoon or mixing into your chicken dinner dish for some extra flavoring.

Which cheese is lowest in carbohydrates? ›

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.

Can I eat carrots on keto? ›

The bottom line. Carrots can be eaten on keto, but it may be difficult to include them regularly or in large quantities, as they contain a fair amount of carbs. Some less starchy alternatives to enjoy raw or cooked include celery, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Are cucumbers keto? ›

Cucumber is another popular salad vegetable. It contains many essential nutrients, including vitamin K. Cucumber is also suitable for the keto diet, as its carb content is just 3.63 g per 100 g. To make the carb content lower, a person can peel the cucumber before eating it.

Can I eat cheese popcorn on keto? ›

If you use a sugary topping, like caramel or chocolate, then that's not keto-friendly. But according to Rissetto, if you use savory things like butter, Parmesan cheese, seasonings or a tiny bit of hot sauce, then that would keep the snack within the limits of the diet.

Is cheese pizza OK for keto? ›

Folks who love cheese and pizza together will be relieved to know that there are many cheese types that go well with a keto diet. Here are some of the cheeses you can add to your pizza without feeling guilty: Mozzarella cheese (shredded or fresh) Pepper jack cheese.

Is Greek cheese good for keto? ›

If you're on a keto diet, you'll be happy to know that Greek feta cheese is a fantastic choice. It's loaded with healthy fats, protein, and is low in carbs, making it the perfect ingredient to add to your low-carb meals. And not only is it good for you, it also adds a delicious, tangy flavor to your dishes.

How many slices of cheese can you have on keto? ›

For example, cheddar cheese has less than 1g carbs, 9g fat, and 7g protein while gouda cheese has less than 1g carbs, 8g fat, and 7g protein per serving. That means it's okay to have up to three servings of gouda or cheddar and still say within your daily keto carb limit of 20-50 grams[*].

Why is cheese keto but not milk? ›

Cow's milk is high in lactose, a type of carbohydrate, so it is not suitable for a keto diet. Milk and related dairy products are essential ingredients in many people's diets. You may enjoy pouring milk on your morning cereal, mixing sweet creamer into your coffee, and adding cream cheese to savory pasta dishes.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gregorio Kreiger

Last Updated:

Views: 6743

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gregorio Kreiger

Birthday: 1994-12-18

Address: 89212 Tracey Ramp, Sunside, MT 08453-0951

Phone: +9014805370218

Job: Customer Designer

Hobby: Mountain biking, Orienteering, Hiking, Sewing, Backpacking, Mushroom hunting, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Gregorio Kreiger, I am a tender, brainy, enthusiastic, combative, agreeable, gentle, gentle person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.