Following a keto diet means avoiding foods that are typically high in carbs, such as grains, starchy veggies, and pastries. The good news is that cheese isn’t off-limits on keto as long as it’s high-fat and low-carb cheese.
Dairy lovers can agree that cheese isn’t just delicious, but it’s also chock full of nutrients. Not to mention, cheese adds variety to your diet. Read on to discover the best cheese for keto dieters and which ones to avoid.
Can You Eat Cheese on Keto?
The keto diet is 55-60% fat, 30-35% protein, and 5-10% carbs[*]. Since cheese is relatively low in carbs, yes, cheese can definitely fit into a keto meal plan. Carbs in cheese usually range from less than 1 gram to 2 grams in one serving, equivalent to 1 oz, 28 grams, or 1 slice.
Another reason why cheese is a great keto food is that it provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals[*]:
- Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K: They support healthy vision, bone health, and immune function [*]
- Vitamin B12: Keeps your nerve cells healthy [*]
- Vitamin B6: May lower cardiovascular disease risk and cognitive decline [*]
- Calcium: Essential for muscle contraction and optimal bone health [*]
- Magnesium: May improve your insulin sensitivity, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes [*]
What Type of Cheese is Best for Keto?
Cheeses that have the lowest carb count and with lots of fat are best for keto dieters. This macronutrient profile supports nutritional ketosis and it ensures that you have energy throughout the day. Cheddar cheese is a popular choice, along with gouda, pepper jack, and cream cheese.
You’ll want to stay away from highly processed cheese, which is likely full of fillers and pro-inflammatory vegetable oils.
Top Low-Carb Cheese Options for the Keto Diet
Check out these five types of cheese on keto. They can be added to your salads, served with steak, enjoyed as a pick-me-up snack, or incorporated into a variety of keto dishes.
1. Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar is a semi-hard cheese that varies in taste. It can have a mild or sharp flavor depending on its age. Apart from annatto, which gives an orange color to cheese, cheddar has no other preservatives or fillers.
One serving (28 grams) of cheddar cheese has 1 gram of carbs, 9 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein[*]. Plus, it’s almost always gluten-free, making it safe for people with celiac disease.
2. Gouda Cheese
Gouda is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands. It’s semi-hard and known for its nutty and caramel-like flavor.
One serving (28 grams) of gouda cheese provides only 1 gram of carbs, 8 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein[*]. If you love macaroni and cheese, try replacing macaroni pasta with cauliflower to lower the carbs, then top this dish with young gouda, cheddar, and parmesan!
3. Monterey Jack Cheese
Made from pasteurized cow’s milk, Monterey Jack, or “Jack” for short, originated in California. It’s commonly used for melting — in burritos and quesadillas, for example. If you would like to make these on keto, just keep in mind to use a low-carb coconut flour tortilla.
One serving (28 grams) of Monterey Jack has less than 1 gram of carbs, 8 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein[*]. In addition, it’s an excellent source of calcium. The same serving size has around 209 milligrams of calcium.
4. Pepper Jack Cheese
Pepper Jack is actually a variant of Monterey Jack. While both have similar textures, Pepper Jack contains herbs and spices, such as garlic, rosemary, jalapeños, and peppers.
One serving (28 grams) of Pepper Jack provides less than 1 gram of carbs, 8 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein[*]. Here at Käze, we use 100% real Pepper Jack to make our cheese bites for snacking!
5. Cream Cheese
The creamy texture of cream cheese makes it popular for cakes, cookies, dips, spreads, and other low-carb recipes you can think of. When choosing cream cheese, check that it’s free of gluten-containing ingredients.
One serving (28 grams) of cream cheese has 2 grams of carbs, 10 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein[*]. Compared to other keto-friendly types of cheese, cream cheese has a lower protein content.
Avoid These Cheese on Keto
Some cheeses are to be avoided for two reasons — they’re low in fat and contain lots of emulsifiers, food colorings, and vegetable oils. Examples are:
- Spray cheese: This is popularly referred to as “cheez whiz” or “cheese in a can” and comes in different flavors. Canola oil is used in spray cheese to keep it moist, but this vegetable oil has a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may contribute to inflammation[*].
- Cottage cheese: At just 1 gram of fat per 28-gram serving, cottage cheese is not the best cheese for keto[*]. Cottage cheese may be considered fresh, but because it’s not exceptionally high in fat, it’s a less-than-ideal choice.
The Bottom Line
Considering that keto is very low-carb and high-fat, go for Cheddar, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Cream Cheese. These types of cheese are every keto dieter’s friend as they make meals more flavorful.
More importantly, they help in maintaining ketosis and optimal health. Looking for another healthy way to eat cheese? Try our Käze low-carb cheese snacks.