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Is Ricotta Cheese Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about ricotta cheese, is it keto-friendly?

Ricotta cheese is a whey cheese that originates in Italy made from leftover whey from cow, goat, sheep or Italian water buffalo milk. Exact nutrition values can vary from brand to brand but one example can show how keto-friendly ricotta cheese is.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in ricotta cheese is around 3 grams per 100 grams.

While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people ricotta cheese is very keto-friendly.

You may however want to exercise some portion control with ricotta cheese anyway for reasons like lactose intolerance, calorie intake, and protein 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 ricotta cheese

100 grams of ricotta cheese contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 3 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0 grams
  • Net carbs: 3 grams

While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is unlikely that the 3 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of ricotta cheese is enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One ounce of ricotta cheese is about 28 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 0.9 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0 grams
  • Net carbs: 0.9 grams

In short ricotta cheese is a great option if you’re looking for keto-friendly foods.

Other nutrients in ricotta cheese

Other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still matter on the ketogenic diet.

100 grams of ricotta cheese contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 173
  • Protein: 11.3 grams
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 0 grams
  • Fat: 13 grams
  • Calcium: 21% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Selenium: 21% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 16% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 11% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 9% of the DV

And other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts. Another benefit is that ricotta cheese is relatively low in sodium compared to many other cheese options.

This is great because consuming too much sodium may have negative side effects.

Besides being low in net carbs, ricotta cheese can also provide you with a lot of valuable nutrients. A great combination for a ketogenic diet.

How much ricotta 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 ricotta cheese even though it is low in carbs.

The second point with ricotta cheese is that too much protein can also kick you out of ketosis.

Lastly, even on keto, the number of calories in your food is relevant. Ricotta cheese is actually on the low side when it comes to calories compared to other types of cheese. Even with that in mind ricotta cheese is still relatively medium in calories.

In short, it’s not advised to eat unlimited amounts of ricotta cheese on keto. You can use the nutritional values of ricotta cheese to calculate exactly how much fits in your daily macros.

How to avoid eating too much ricotta cheese

By now it is clear that you may want to exercise some portion control when it comes to ricotta cheese. Just endlessly munching on it and hoping that you don’t eat too much is not the ideal way to do this.

You can avoid eating too much ricotta cheese with some of the following tips:

  • Plan ahead, how much ricotta cheese will you eat?
  • Weigh out this amount or figure out how many spoons 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

Ricotta 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 lower in carbs than ricotta cheese.

Some of the following types of cheese may be better on the keto diet. These are the net carb values per 100 grams (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8):

  • 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
  • Cheddar cheese: 1.3 grams of net carbs
  • Fontina cheese: 1.5 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.

Ricotta cheese is one of the lower-carb cheeses but the above six options contain even fewer. You do have to keep in mind that these six contain more calories.

What is your goal with keto?

Ricotta 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 ricotta cheese is a good food choice for most people.

If your goal is to lose weight ricotta cheese is still a good food option but there are better choices due to its medium calorie count.