Is cheese good for weight loss? You might be asking yourself how cheese can be one of the foods that will help you shed pounds. Like most foods, it depends on the type, the amount you consume, and your eating habits. Here’s what you should know about eating cheese for weight loss and which options to avoid!
Is Cheese Good for Weight Loss?
Cheese may have gained a reputation for causing weight gain, but the reality is that cheese (a whole-fat dairy product) can reduce body fat. The same goes for other dairy products like yogurt and kefir [*][*].
Here are some explanations behind cheese’s weight loss effects:
- Low in carbohydrates: If you follow a keto diet, which restricts carbs to 50 grams or less to enter ketosis and burn body fat, cheese is an excellent choice. Most cheeses are low in carbs — cheddar cheese, for example, has 1 gram of carbs per 1-ounce serving.
- Rich in protein and fat: On top of its low carbohydrate content, cheese is chock-full of protein and fat. These macronutrients support weight loss in the following ways: Protein and protein make you feel full and satisfied, which prevents overeating. One serving of cheese has 8-9 grams of fat and 6-11 grams of protein.
- A source of probiotics: Some cheeses contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that aid in the breakdown of food and improve your immune response. Research has shown that probiotics also decrease body weight through different mechanisms — e.g. reducing inflammation and increasing insulin sensitivity [*]. Examples of cheeses with probiotics include aged cheddar, gouda, and feta.
To learn more about the other health benefits of cheese, check out this article.
Best Cheese for Weight Loss
When choosing the best cheese for weight loss, we recommend sticking to natural cheeses. Popular types of natural cheese, which are also low in carbs, include cheddar, gouda, blue cheese, and jack cheese. Read more below:
Cheddar has only 1 gram of carbs in a 1-oz serving. While it’s high in saturated fat, current evidence shows that saturated fat does not clog the arteries. In contrast, a diet that’s high in carbohydrates and excess fructose causes heart disease [*].
Blue cheese has a strong flavor profile. It goes well with other weight-loss-friendly foods like steaks and an assortment of nuts. Another interesting fact is that blue cheese is particularly high in sodium. For people who exercise frequently and are on a very low-carb diet, sodium helps replenish electrolytes.
Jack or Monterey Jack helps with many goals, including weight loss, better athletic performance, and increased metabolism — thanks to its protein content. You may be familiar with pepper jack, a derivative of Monterey Jack, that contains spicy peppers. These spicy peppers contain capsaicin, an active compound that has been found to increase metabolism [*].
Mozzarella is a tried-and-true crowd-pleaser. People who are on a high-protein diet to lower their body fat and boost muscle mass include mozzarella as one of their best protein sources.
Parmesan is another popular cheese for people on a weight-loss diet. One tablespoon provides less than 1 gram of carbs and other nutrients like potassium, sodium, and calcium. As part of a weight loss diet, enjoy parmesan by pairing it with beef and veggies.
Goat cheese, as the name implies, is made from goat milk. Like cheese made from cow’s milk, goat cheese is available in various flavors and textures. It’s also easier to digest (which makes it an option for people with lactose intolerance) and contains probiotics.
Cheese to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight
Is cheese bad for weight loss if it’s processed? The answer is yes. Processed cheese contributes to weight gain by containing additional ingredients like vegetable oils (canola oil, corn oil), sweeteners (glucose syrup and maltodextrin), corn starch, artificial colors, and others that enhance their taste and texture.
Since processed cheeses are highly palatable, it’s easy to overeat them. This may lead to consuming more calories than you need. Furthermore, ingredients in these foods raise your blood sugar levels — added sugar, for example — and promote inflammation.
Here are examples of processed cheeses to stay away from:
- Cheese powders
- Cheese sauces, dips, and spreads
- Pre-packaged cheese slices, also known as “singles”
Check out these frequently asked questions on cheese and weight loss:
How much cheese should I eat a day to lose weight?
The amount of cheese you can eat ultimately depends on your daily calorie goal. Knowing how many calories you need for weight loss or weight maintenance allows you to determine the number of calories that will come from cheese and other foods during the day.
If you’re looking for a specific number, three servings of cheese (or 3 ounces) should not cause you to gain weight.
When is the best time to eat cheese for weight loss?
Any time is a good time to eat cheese! Have it for breakfast, as a midday snack, bedtime snack, and pre or post-workout energy source.
Is cheese OK to eat every day?
Cheese is fine to eat daily. If you do, be careful not to overeat cheese. Watch your calorie and carb intake from cheese and other foods you consume within the day. It’s also important to follow other weight loss strategies like exercise, getting a good night’s sleep, and keeping your stress low on top of eating cheese.
Are there benefits of eating cheese at night?
Cheese is a bedtime-friendly snack that won’t disrupt your sleep. If you feel hungry late at night because your blood sugar is low, eating cheese before bedtime will help.
The Bottom Line
Cheese is both filling and satiating, thanks to protein and fat. It’s not only low in carbs, but it’s also a source of micronutrients and probiotics that support health.
Make sure to choose unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, gouda, and pepper jack in your diet and eat them in moderation. Calories and carbs can add up quickly, especially since you’re also consuming other foods during the day. Everything you do, and not just cheese, can impact your weight loss efforts.