On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about cheddar cheese, is it keto-friendly?
Cheddar cheese is a hard cheese, usually white or orange that originates in the United Kingdom. In Europe, the name cheddar cheese can only be used for certain cheeses made in specific areas. In other areas of the world rules for using the name cheddar are not always as strict.
The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in cheddar cheese is around 1.3 grams per 100 grams.
While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people cheddar cheese is very keto-friendly.
You may however want to exercise some portion control with cheddar cheese anyway for reasons like lactose intolerance, calorie intake, protein intake, and sodium intake.
When is a food keto-friendly
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to put your body into ketosis, a state where it starts mainly burning fat as a fuel (1). This comes down to more or less getting 55%-60% of your macronutrients from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates.
For most people this comes down to eating around 20g – 50g of carbohydrates a day.
In reality, this number is different depending on a lot of factors. For example, people who exercise a lot may be able to consume more carbohydrates before getting kicked out of ketosis.
That being said that daily amount can be a good general guideline.
It is also common to exclude fiber from this amount since it doesn’t get absorbed into your body the same way as regular carbohydrates.
Carbs in cheddar cheese
100 grams of cheddar cheese contains the following amounts of carbs (2):
- Total carbs: 1.3 grams
- Of which fiber: 0 grams
- Net carbs: 1.3 grams
While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is very unlikely that the 1.3 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of cheddar cheese is enough to kick you out of ketosis.
One slice of cheddar cheese is about 28 grams (1 ounce) and contains the following amounts of carbs:
- Total carbs: 0.4 grams
- Of which fiber: 0 grams
- Net carbs: 0.4 grams
In short there are not many non-meat foods that are more keto-friendly than cheddar cheese.
Different ways to eat cheddar cheese
While regular cheddar cheese on its own is considered to be keto-friendly, this cheese also plays a role in other recipes that are not always recommended if you want to keep your carb intake low.
The first example is cheddar popcorn which is basically regular popcorn with some cheddar cheese over it. Unfortunately corn, and thus cheddar popcorn, is not very keto-friendly.
The next recipe is cheddar cheese straws. These are basically cheese, butter, flour, spices, and salt prepared in the oven. Flour which is relatively high in carbs plays a big role. This makes cheddar cheese straws not very keto-friendly.
Lastly there is cheddar cheese sauce. With this recipe it depends on what ingredients you use. Some recipes include flour but you can also find keto-friendly cheddar cheese sauce.
Other nutrients in cheddar cheese
Other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still matter on the ketogenic diet.
100 grams of cheddar cheese contains the following nutrients (2):
- Calories: 403
- Protein: 24.9 grams
- Carbs: 1.3 grams
- Part of the carbs that is fiber: 0 grams
- Fat: 33.1 grams
- Calcium: 72% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 51% of the DV
- Sodium: 26% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 22% of the DV
- Zinc: 21% of the DV
And other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.
You do have to keep in mind that overdoing it with certain vitamins and minerals is not good either. In the case of cheddar cheese the main mineral to keep in mind is sodium.
Consuming too much sodium may have negative side effects. If you already get a lot of sodium from your current diet adding cheddar cheese on top of that might not be a smart idea.
Besides being low in net carbs, cheddar cheese can also provide you with a lot of valuable nutrients. A great combination for a ketogenic diet.
How much cheddar cheese can you eat on keto?
First of all, you need to know that some people are intolerant to cheese. These individuals may want to avoid or limit cheddar cheese even though it is low in carbs.
The second point with cheddar cheese is that too much protein can also kick you out of ketosis.
The next point mentioned above is that cheddar cheese contains a decent amount of sodium. Consuming too much sodium may cause negative health consequences.
Lastly, even on keto, the number of calories in your food is relevant. Cheddar cheese is actually on the higher side when it comes to calories compared to other types of cheese.
In short, it’s not advised to eat unlimited amounts of cheddar cheese on keto. You can use the nutritional values of cheddar cheese to calculate exactly how much fits in your daily macros.
How to avoid eating too much cheddar cheese
By now it is clear that you may want to exercise some portion control when it comes to cheddar cheese. Just munching on an entire block and hoping that you don’t eat too much is not the ideal way to do this.
You can avoid eating too much cheddar cheese with some of the following tips:
- Plan ahead, how much cheddar cheese will you eat?
- Weigh out this amount or figure out how many slices it is
- Don’t eat during other activities like watching TV
- Consider not buying it if you can’t control yourself
Other cheese options on keto
Cheddar cheese is not the only option when you want to eat cheese on the ketogenic diet. In fact, there are a few types of cheese that are even lower in carbs than cheddar cheese.
- Gruyere: 0.4 grams of net carbs
- Brie: 0.5 grams of net carbs
- Camembert: 0.5 grams of net carbs
- Muenster: 1.1 grams of net carbs
While most cheese are keto-friendly, some are lower in carbs than others. Check out the full list of low carb cheeses.
Cheddar cheese is one of the lower-carb cheeses but the above four options contain even fewer.
What is your goal with keto?
Cheddar cheese may not kick you out of ketosis but depending on the goal you have with keto there may be better food options.
If your goal is to stay strictly in ketosis 24/7 cheddar cheese is a good food choice for most people.