One of the biggest questions surrounding the Keto diet is: what can you eat? Luckily, Keto works well with a variety of different eating styles and restrictions, including a diet where you do not eat cheese. The following article will highlight how to follow a Keto diet without cheese as well as possible benefits to removing cheese from your diet.
What is Keto?
Before you can understand how certain foods such as cheese work with your Keto diet, you need to know how Keto works. In simplest terms, Keto is an ultra-low carb diet. Although many people know this, what isn’t always known is why Keto asks you to stay away from bread and pasta.
The aim of Keto is to get your body to run primarily off ketones. Ketones are produced in your liver from your fat cells. They’re an efficient fuel that leaves you feeling energized without the sugar highs and lows commonly associated with carbohydrates.
In order to get your body to switch from using glucose as fuel to using ketones you need to restrict your carbohydrates consumption. Most people find that they can keep their body in the metabolic state of ketosis if their net carbs are limited to 20-25g daily. Every person has a different tolerance to carbohydrates, but you should be safe if you stick within this range.
So, if you can’t eat carbs on Keto, what does that leave you with? The majority of the calories on Keto come from healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and oils. The saturated fats that are found in dairy and meat are also allowed on Keto; however, moderation is key. Roughly 70-75% of your calories should come from fat. The remaining calories should come from non-starchy vegetables such as kale and low sugar fruits such as avocado.
Dairy on the Keto diet
Can you eat dairy on Keto? Yes, you definitely can. Most dairy contains some carbohydrates so it’s important to choose varieties without any added sugars. It’s also important to choose full-fat versions of your favorite dairy treats so that you can add fat calories to your diet. Dairy is made up of saturated fats which may or may not be healthy for you. More studies need to be done on this; however, what is clear is that fermented foods such as yogurt are great for the good bacteria in your gut.
Just because you can eat dairy on Keto doesn’t mean that you have to. It’s a take it or leave it type of food. If you eat it then you’re getting some essential vitamins and minerals; however, if you don’t, you’re not missing out on any of the unsaturated fats you should aim for on Keto.
Can you do Keto without Cheese?
Yes, you can absolutely do Keto without eating cheese. Although cheese adds flavor to a variety of dishes it’s not necessary in order to see success on Keto. The Keto diet requires that 70-75% of your calories come from healthy fats and there are plenty of other places for you to get those fats. This is why anyone who’s vegan or has a lactose intolerance can still see success of Keto.
If you place a stronger focus on plant-based fat sources such as nuts, seeds and oils then you shouldn’t miss the cheese in your Keto. In fact, you might find it easier to do Keto without dairy because it forces you to look for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated forms of fat that’s commonly found in plant sources. These types of fats are good for you heart health and they can aid in lowering your LDL cholesterol levels.
Possible benefits of removing cheese from your diet
Not only is Keto without cheese possible, but you might also find that it improves many areas of your health to eliminate this dairy food. There are a variety of reasons that people can’t eat dairy products such as cheese. The most obvious one is lactose intolerance. If you have a legitimate allergy to dairy and you’re lactose intolerant, chances are you know something’s up when you feel the pain in your gut after eating that ice cream bar. However, there are milder forms of dairy allergy that cause discomfort in your gut without being full on lactose intolerance. If you think that you might be allergic to cheese it’s worth removing it from your diet for a few weeks to see if you feel less bloated, gassy and uncomfortable.
It may not be the lactose in dairy that you have a problem with either. Some people have a hard time digesting the proteins that are found in cheese. The whey and casein that’s found in cheese can give you some minor issues such as joint pain or acne if your body cannot digest it properly.
Whether it’s your inability to digest the proteins, or a lactose intolerance, eating cheese can cause a variety of problems for some people. Cheese has been known to cause weight gain, or at least make it more difficult for you to lose weight so cutting it out might help you shed a few of those more stubborn pounds. Cheese has also been linked to skin issues so if you have a difficult complexion you might find that it clears up with the elimination of dairy.
Problems with digestion is one of the biggest reasons that some people ditch the dairy and give up cheese. Whether it’s a feeling of bloating, constipation, diarrhea or even pain, cheese doesn’t get along with everyone. It might also affect your thyroid gland which means that your energy levels are low. Cutting out cheese might give you the spring in your step that your body was missing.
Another reason to steer clear of cheese is the saturated fat debate. Scientists for years have told you that saturated fats found in animal product and animal by-products (such as cheese) will raise your LDL cholesterol levels and could cause a variety of heart problems. However, new studies are being done that show that saturated fats may not be as bad as we once thought. There hasn’t been enough time or research done in this area to overthrow the previous studies that pointed to saturated fats being bad. Maybe in time we’ll find out that’s not the case, but we aren’t there yet.
The one thing that’s not up for debate is that polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are good for you and can raise your HDL cholesterol levels. So, if you want to be on the safe side, choose plant-based fat sources whenever possible. They contain the good fats that your body needs on Keto, and you generally don’t have to eat as many of them resulting in fewer calories.
Practical tips for Keto without cheese
If cutting out cheese sounds like a good idea to you then here are a few practical tips that can help you keep up your energy levels, stay in ketosis and reap the potential benefits.
Why are you eating cheese?
The first thing you have to determine is, what are you looking for by having cheese? What role does cheese currently serve in your Keto meal plan? Does it offer fats, flavor or is it just something you’ve grown accustomed to eating?
If you’re looking to get more fats in your diet, then the simplest way to eliminate cheese is by adding in more fats from other sources. If you’re a carnivore that craves animal products, try adding more meat into your diet. If you’re looking for a healthy form of fat to replace cheese than try adding in more nuts, seeds and oils such as coconut and extra virgin olive oil.
If you’re looking to replace the flavor of cheese, then a great alternative is nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor and vegans have used it in dishes and meals for years in order to make their pizza and mac n cheese taste closer to the real thing. Sprinkling a few flakes on top of a salad will have a similar effect to sprinkling on some of your favorite shredded cheese. The internet is loaded with recipes that help you add nutritional yeast to your meals for a cheesy kick.
You could also try some vegan cheeses in order to replicate the flavor and texture of cheese. Be careful with this option and look closely at your net carbs. Some processed products contain added sugars, or they’re made with preservatives that you want to avoid on Keto.
Contrary to popular belief, cheese and other dairy products aren’t the only sources of calcium. They’re not even the best sources. This important nutrient can also be found in a large variety of leafy green veggies, such as kale and collard greens. Tofu is another good source of calcium and it can even replicate the texture of cheese depending on your recipe. Sesame seeds can also be used for a boost of calcium with the added benefit of having healthy fats that your Keto needs.
Whatever your reasons for giving up cheese, there are plenty of health benefits to support the switch. Your Keto diet will support the elimination of dairy, and if you add in more plant-based fats then you might even see the benefits of your Keto increasing as a result!
A word on fats and calories
Fat is very high in calories. A single gram of fat contains 9 calories regardless of which type it is. This means that it’s very easy to accidentally go over your calorie budget. Fats are essential to Keto; however, you need to keep your calories in mind if you want to lose weight on Keto.
Fats are what’s know as a high calorie density food. Foods with a high calorie density pack a large number of calories into a small portion of food. This is important because high calorie dense foods take up very little room in your stomach which means that it can be difficult to determine based on your stomach when you’ve eaten enough.
In terms of calorie density, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale are the lowest in calorie density. You can eat cups of spinach and still not eat 100 calories whereas you would only need a small handful of nuts or a tablespoon of oil to reach the same calorie mark. This means that in order to convince your stomach it’s full, it’s important to make sure that alongside your healthy fats you eat a large portion of food with a low-calorie density. Also be sure to measure out your fats so you know how many calories you’re consuming.
Healthy fats are vital to success on Keto. Your body needs them in order to make ketones. However, eating the right type of fat in the right amounts is also important in order to ensure the health of your heart. Try incorporating some of the foods listed in the above article into your Keto in order to see the best possible Keto results!