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Is cheese sauce good for diet?

Cheese sauce is a creamy, cheesy condiment that is commonly served with dishes like pasta, vegetables, potatoes, and more. With its rich, irresistible flavor, cheese sauce can be hard to resist. However, with its high fat and calorie content, it may seem like an unlikely choice for those watching their waistline. So, is cheese sauce actually a smart choice when dieting, or is it best to avoid?

Nutritional profile of cheese sauce

To determine if cheese sauce fits into a diet, we first need to look at its nutritional profile. There are many variations of cheese sauce, but in general, a 2 tablespoon serving contains:

  • Around 50-70 calories
  • 5-6 grams of fat
  • 2-3 grams of saturated fat
  • 30-50 mg of cholesterol
  • 200-300 mg of sodium
  • 2-3 grams of protein
  • Little to no carbs or fiber

As you can see, cheese sauce derives a large portion of its calories from fat. The type of fat matters too – much of the fat in cheese sauce comes from saturated fat and cholesterol, which should be limited on a healthy diet.

Cheese sauce is also very energy dense, packing 50-70 calories into a small 2 tablespoon serving. It provides protein, but lacks volume and nutritional value from fiber or complex carbs.

Effect on weight loss

When trying to lose weight, calories and portion sizes matter. Cheese sauce can easily add extra calories that add up over the course of a day.

For example, let’s say your diet allows you 1500 calories per day. If you have:

  • 1/2 cup of pasta with 3 Tbsp cheese sauce – 209 calories
  • 1 baked potato with 2 Tbsp cheese sauce – 128 calories
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli with 2 Tbsp cheese sauce – 105 calories

That’s 442 extra calories from the cheese sauce alone. This doesn’t leave much room for other foods while staying under your 1500 calorie limit.

Cheese sauce is energy dense and easy to overconsume. Just a few tablespoons can put a dent in your daily calorie budget. This is why portion control is key if including it in a diet.

Effect on nutrition

Aside from calories, cheese sauce is not the most nutritious choice. It is high in saturated fat and sodium, both of which should be limited on a healthy diet. Cheese sauce is also low in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

While cheese does contain some beneficial nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B12, you can get these from healthier sources like low-fat dairy, leafy greens, beans, lentils, and lean meats.

Cheese sauce is not devoid of nutrition, but it is not the most nutrient-dense option either. For a balanced diet, it’s best consumed in moderation along with more wholesome, minimally processed foods.

Satiety and fullness

An important factor for weight loss is a food’s ability to provide satiety and fullness. Foods that are satiating can help control hunger and reduce subsequent calorie intake.

Cheese sauce is moderately satiating. The protein and fat can help provide a feeling of fullness. However, it lacks the fiber, water, and volume that come with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

While cheese sauce can provide some satiety, it may not be as filling as healthier, lower calorie options. For example, a 100 calorie apple provides more nutrients, fiber, and volume compared to 100 calories of cheese sauce.

Health risks

There are some potential downsides to eating cheese sauce regularly:

  • High in saturated fat: The saturated fat in cheese sauce raises LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, increasing risk for heart disease.
  • High in sodium: The 300+ mg of sodium in just 2 Tbsp can increase blood pressure.
  • Low in nutrients: Cheese sauce is not a major source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients.
  • High in calories: It’s easy to overconsume calories when eating energy-dense cheese sauce, which can hinder weight loss.

Consuming cheese sauce occasionally or in small portions is unlikely to negatively impact health. But regular, high intake may increase risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions.

Tips for adding cheese sauce to your diet

You don’t necessarily have to avoid cheese sauce completely when dieting. With some precautions, you can still enjoy it in moderation:

  • Measure out proper serving sizes rather than eyeballing.
  • Use reduced-fat cheese sauce or look for lighter versions.
  • Pair it with low-calorie foods like veggies to balance it out.
  • Add it on the side rather than on top to control portions.
  • Substitute in Greek yogurt for up to half the cheese sauce.
  • Boost nutrition by adding spinach, mushrooms or tomatoes.
  • Limit higher-fat meats like bacon or sausage when having it.

With smart guidelines like these, cheese sauce can be worked into a healthy diet in sensible amounts. Just be mindful of portions and pair it with nutrient-dense foods.

Healthier substitutes

For lower calorie options, try these substitutes for cheese sauce:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Pureed cauliflower or low-fat milk
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Mustard or tahini-based sauces
  • Bean dips like hummus
  • Salsa or marinara sauce
  • Avocado mash
  • Low-fat sour cream or cream cheese

These provide a flavor and creaminess similar to cheese sauce, with fewer calories and more nutrition. Some still have fat and calories to watch, but can be healthier swaps when used wisely.

Should you avoid cheese sauce when dieting?

Cheese sauce is high in calories, fat, sodium and lacks key nutrients – which may make it seem off-limits when dieting. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be avoided altogether.

The key is moderation and balance. When consumed occasionally in sensible portions, cheese sauce can be part of a healthy diet. Just be mindful of serving sizes, pair it with lower calorie foods, and choose lighter versions when possible.

While cheese sauce should not be a daily indulgence, the occasional small amount is unlikely to sabotage your diet. With some precautions, you can still enjoy this creamy, delicious condiment in moderation.

The bottom line

Here is a summary of whether cheese sauce can fit into a healthy diet:

  • It’s high in calories, fat, sodium and low in nutrients, fiber and volume.
  • Eating large amounts can hinder weight loss due to excess calories.
  • When consumed in moderation and proper portions, it can be worked into a diet.
  • Pair it with lower calorie foods and avoid eating high amounts regularly.
  • Substituting Greek yogurt or other lower calorie sauces can help lighten it up.
  • With balance and control, cheese sauce can still be enjoyed occasionally by dieters.

While not the most diet-friendly choice, cheese sauce can still be incorporated into a healthy eating plan. With some precautions to control portions and balance it with better choices, even those wanting to lose weight can still savor this delicious condiment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cheese sauce just as bad as regular cheese?

Cheese sauce is higher in calories and fat compared to an equal amount of regular cheese. For example, 1 ounce of cheddar cheese has about 110 calories and 9 grams of fat. The same amount of cheese sauce has around 160 calories and 14 grams of fat. So the sauce form leads to more fat and calories packed into each bite.

What makes cheese sauce so high in calories?

The main culprits for the high calorie content in cheese sauce are fat and a lack of protein, fiber or water to provide volume. The large amount of fat from cheese, milk, cream and/or butter packs over 50 calories into 2 tablespoons. Without protein, fiber or water to balance it out, the calories in cheese sauce can quickly add up.

Is it OK to eat a little bit of cheese sauce daily?

Eating a small amount of 1-2 tablespoons of cheese sauce daily is not necessarily harmful, as long as you account for it in your calorie budget. However, cheese sauce is high in saturated fat and sodium, so large amounts on a daily basis is not recommended. Limit weekly intake to 1/4 cup or less to minimize potential health risks.

Does cheese sauce offer any nutritional benefits?

Cheese sauce does provide some nutritional positives. It contains protein for satiety, calcium for bones, vitamin A for vision and immunity, and vitamin B12 for energy. However, it is high in unhealthy fats and sodium, and lacks key nutrients like fiber, vitamins C and E, iron and potassium. Overall, it has nutritional pros and cons.

What’s an easy substitute for cheese sauce?

Some easy, lower calorie substitutes for cheese sauce include:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Bean dips like hummus
  • Salsa
  • Low-fat sour cream
  • Pureed cauliflower

These provide creaminess and flavor for fewer calories than most cheese sauces. They can allow you to cut calories without sacrificing satisfaction.


Cheese sauce is a double-edged sword when it comes to dieting. With its rich, cheesy flavor but high fat and calorie content, it can be hard to figure out if it fits into a healthy eating plan. While cheese sauce does contain some nutritional pros, it also has cons like high sodium, saturated fat and lack of fiber and volume. Overall, cheese sauce can be enjoyed in moderation as part of balanced diet, but large amounts or daily consumption can potentially hinder weight loss efforts. Using portion control, lighter versions and healthier substitutes allows you to still enjoy its delicious flavor without going overboard.