Low Carb

Can I Eat Cheese on a Low Carb Diet?

Max Carmody, MSc

You can eat a small amount of appropriate types of cheese on a standard low carb diet, and on a keto diet, a specific type of low carb diet, eating lots of cheese is even encouraged.

What are Carbs?

Carbohydrates (Carbs) are a type of macronutrient. Macronutrients are the nutrients that we need in large quantities that provide us with energy. The other types of macronutrients are protein and fat. Carbs are made up of sugars, starches, and fibers. They are in things like grains, fruits, and dairy. Your body turns carbs into glucose to give you the energy to function. The digestive system breaks carbs down into glucose, and then the bloodstream absorbs glucose and uses it as energy. There are different types of carbs. Two of the main ones are simple carbs, and refined carbs. Simple carbs are things found in everything from table sugar to fruit. Complex carbs come from things like whole grains. Simple carbs provide your body with short bursts of energy, and complex carbs take longer for your body to break down, so they are a longer-lasting energy source.

Low Carb Diet

Low carb diets, as the name suggests, are low in carbohydrates. Typically on a low carb diet, you eat less than 130 grams of carbs a day. On some types of low carb diets, such as the keto diet, you actually eat under 50 grams of carbs per day, as low as 20 grams. Because you are eating fewer carbs, you generally start eating either more protein, or more fat, or both. There is no one single type of low carb diet, there are a wide variety out there. If you would like to also find out if you can eat bacon on a low carb diet, you can find an article that I wrote here on the topic.


We all know what cheese is. And I myself, absolutely love cheese. When I am not in diet mode, I eat a lot of it. Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, but it is usually high in saturated fat and salt. Saturated fat is on of the unhealthy fats, along with trans fat. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature, unlike the healthier unsaturated fat which is typically a liquid at room temp. Too much saturated fat can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries. Saturated fat raises your bad LDL cholesterol, and can increase heart attack and stroke risk.

The nutrients in cheese can vary. An ounce of hard cheese, which is a little wedge the size of your thumb has about 120 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 6 grams of saturated fat. A half cup of a soft cheese like full fat cottage cheese has about 120 calories, 14 grams of protein, and 3 grams of saturated fat.

Cheese on a Standard Low Carb Diet

I have been doing something called the diet of hope recently. It is a pretty restrictive low carb diet. It doesn’t allow any fruit besides berries, or things like green peas, or even beans or lentils. And on this diet you are not supposed to eat too much cheese. You are allowed a little bit of cheese 2 times a week, but not every day.

In general, it is ok to eat SOME cheese on a low carb diet. But it should not be eaten too excessively, because it still has a lot of calories. Low carb diets often limit the types of cheese you can eat, and how much of them you can eat. Generally cottage cheese is ok though, because it is so high in protein and the fat is much lower. Let’s take a look at the Atkins diet, because that is a very popular type of low carb diet. Cheddar is good to eat on Atkins because it has zero grams of net carbs in a 1 ounce serving. It is good to stick to aged cheeses and full fat, firm cheese. You are supposed to stick to cheeses with less than 1 gram of net carbs per 1 oz serving. This includes things like gouda, mozzarella, and cream cheese. The only exceptions to this 1 net gram rule are Feta and Swiss. If you would like to find out what you SHOULD be eating on a low carb diet, you can find an article that I wrote here on the topic.

Cheese on a Keto Diet

In the previous section, we were talking about a standard low carb diet. The keto diet however, is a completely different story. The keto diet is all about fat, including saturated fat, and cheese is a great source of fat. So you can eat plenty of cheese on a keto diet. I tried a keto diet for a while, and all the cheese I got to eat was one of my favorite parts of it. Some good cheeses to eat on keto include Asadero cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Gouda cheese, goat cheese, and blue cheese. Some cheeses to avoid are low fat cheeses, because the diet is all about fat, processed cheese, and cottage cheese. On a normal  low carb diet, cottage cheese is fine, but it does contain about 6 grams of carbs per serving, so you’ll want to avoid it on keto.

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