The Keto diet is popular with many people because its the high-fat high protein focus. If you can’t imagine giving up bacon for your diet then the Keto diet might be perfect for you. But what about cheese, is it allowed on the keto diet? The short answer is yes, cheese is a welcome addition to your Keto meal plan! Read on to discover the benefits of cheese on your keto diet and which cheeses are best and which should be avoided.
Overview of the Keto diet
The Keto diet is one low in carbohydrates and high in protein with most of the macronutrient content coming from healthy fats. The logic behind this macronutrient distribution is based on how your body fuels its various parts. The easiest way for your body to get fuel is from glucose or blood sugar. Glucose is created when you eat carb-rich foods such as pasta, grains and bread.
The body can quickly get fuel from glucose; however, a few hours after you’ve eaten your body has burned through the available glucose and it begins to send you hunger signals. This leads to you eating more often and possibly gaining weight as well. Even though the body is sending out almost constant hunger signals it doesn’t actually use all of the available glucose. Instead, it stores some away for a time when food isn’t plentiful in the form of fat. Because most of us get enough to eat every day we don’t often burn through this stored fat.
The Keto diet shifts this so that our body does burn away our stored fat. Your carb count on the Keto diet should be 20g of net carbs or less per day. Net carbs are calculated by taking the total number of carbs in your food and subtracting the fiber from them because your body doesn’t actually absorb the fiber you eat.
When you shift to this low carb diet your body can’t use glucose for the majority of its energy needs because you’ve entered a phase known as ketosis. Ketosis forces your body to shift to burning ketones as its main source of energy. Ketones are produced in the liver from your fat cells and this is how the Keto diet helps you burn away your stored fat.
Because you’re burning fat you end up losing weight and you find yourself less hungry. There is a large store of fat in the majority of our bodies that’s available as energy so there’s no need for your body to send hunger signals asking for more. This cuts down on the frequency of your meals and also contributes to weight loss. On top of the weight loss benefits, the Keto diet is also great for improving your heart health, lowering your risk of diabetes and increasing your energy and mental focus.
Cheese and nutrition
Cheese is a great source of nutrition for your body. It’s loaded with calcium which is important for the maintenance of your bones. It’s also full of protein and fats so it will help keep you full for longer periods of time. Vitamins A and K2 are important vitamins that can be found in grass-fed dairy products. They’re fat soluble so it can be difficult to get enough of them in a day. Cheese makes this a lot easier. Cheese also has vitamin B-12 which is important for keeping you energized. The nutrients riboflavin, zinc and phosphorus can also be found in cheese.
There are some people that cannot eat cheese because their body has a hard time processing the lactose in cheese. If you find that you’re having trouble digesting cheese, you feel bloated after eating dairy or you experience stomach pains you should speak with a doctor to see if you might be lactose intolerant.
Keto and Cheese
The Keto diet is full of health benefits and cheese is full of health benefits and nutrition. However, how do these two work together? The good news is that you can definitely eat cheese on a Keto diet!
Is cheese Keto friendly?
Yes! Cheese is Keto friendly. It’s full of healthy fats such as butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid. Butyrate is important for our digestive health and it can help reduce inflammation in the body. The fat in cheese can help fuel your body and keep you in ketosis. Cheese is also full of protein which helps build your muscles and keep you feeling full on the Keto diet.
One thing to watch is that cheese is high in calories and to lose weight on Keto you need to be consuming fewer calories than you’re taking in. If you find that you’re having trouble losing weight on Keto you might want to try eating less cheese so that you bring down the number of calories you’re taking in.
What should I look for in a cheese?
It’s important to choose the right cheese on Keto. Clean Keto requires you to avoid processed foods and cheese is no different. There are a lot of “cheese products” out there that claim to be cheese but they aren’t. If it’s made in the lab then it’s processed and should be avoided on the Keto diet. Cheese slices, canned cheese or spray cheese are all fake cheese and aren’t allowed on the Keto diet.
Look to see if the cheese you’re interested in is homogenized. If it is, skip it favor of non-homogenized, full-fat cheese. Homogenization changes the chemical composition of the cheese which makes it difficult for your body to recognize and use the proteins and fats properly. Avoid any cheese labelled as low-fat or skim for the same reason.
You should also try to find raw cheeses if possible. Raw cheese is cheese that hasn’t been pasteurized and it’s full of healthy probiotics. Pasteurization allows cheese and milk products to be safely stored without bacteria growth. However, the process kills all of the bad bacteria as well as the good ones. Pasteurization also changes the chemical make up of the cheese-making it more difficult for our bodies to use its protein and fat.
If possible you should choose grass-fed cows so that the omega-3 content in the cheese is as high as possible. You should also try and find organic cheese. The fewer grains, fillers and antibiotics the cows are fed the healthier they will be and the more health benefits their cheese will have for you.
Best Keto-friendly cheese
When you’re looking for a cheese to eat on the Keto diet there are plenty to choose from. As long as they’re organic, raw, grass-fed and not homogenized most cheeses are Keto-friendly. The following are some of the best cheeses for Keto.
- Goat Cheese-raw goat cheese is a great Keto option coming in at only 0.2g of carbs per 1 ounce serving. It’s also loaded with probiotics, protein and a generous 7g helping of fat. A great thing about goat cheese is that it has less lactose in it than cheese made from cow’s milk. This means that if you have mild lactose intolerance you might be able to eat this cheese without experiencing side effects.
- Blue Cheese-because this cheese is so stinky and full of flavour you don’t need much in order to taste it. A 1/3 ounce serving has the same amount of carbs as goat cheese at 0.2g and it also has 2 g of fat.
- Cream Cheese-this cheese is a full-fat option that works well with Keto. With every 1 tbsp serving, you’re adding 5g of fat along with your 0.8g of carbs. Because you can spread cream cheese on just about anything it’s a great way to enjoy a cheesy flavor with all of your meals.
- Parmesan Cheese- this versatile cheese can be shredded, crumbled or diced up to add a salty dash of protein and fat to all of your Keto dishes. If you’re missing your croutons on your salads try adding some parmesan cheese to boost the flavor so that you can get a serving of veggies that isn’t bland. A serving of 1 tbsp comes in at 0.9g of carbs with a nice 1.7g serving of fat.
Cheese to avoid on Keto
Like most foods, there are cheeses that don’t provide the nutritional punch that you need for your Keto diet. Try to avoid the following cheeses in order to get the most out of your Keto meal plan.
- Cheese slices (processed)
- Spray cheese (processed)
- Cheeze whiz and other cheese spreads (processed)
- Yellow cheddar (it’s dyed yellow so choose white cheddar instead)
- American cheese (processed)
- Ricotta (too high in carbs)
- Cottage cheese (too high in carbs)
Cheese is a great nutritional addition to your Keto diet! It helps you get some essential vitamins and minerals that you need as well as providing a high protein high-fat boost without a large number of carbohydrates. As long as the cheese you’re eating is raw, organic and grass-fed you shouldn’t have a hard time fitting cheese into your Keto meal plan.