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Which cheese is best for weight loss?

Cheese is a tasty and nutritious addition to any diet. While cheese does contain high amounts of fat and calories, some varieties are better for weight loss than others. The key is choosing cheeses that are high in protein and relatively low in fat and calories. When consumed in moderation, cheese may help promote weight loss and prevent weight gain.

How does cheese affect weight loss?

Cheese contains high amounts of fat and calories – mainly in the form of saturated fat. An ounce (28g) can provide around 100 calories and 7-8 grams of fat. This means cheese is very energy dense. However, cheese also provides protein, calcium, and many other nutrients. When comparing cheeses, some varieties have more beneficial nutrition profiles than others.

Here’s a quick overview of how cheese components affect weight loss:

  • Protein – Cheese is an excellent source of protein, providing around 7 grams per ounce. Protein promotes fullness, helps sustain energy levels, and preserves or builds muscle mass during weight loss.
  • Fat – The high fat content provides a lot of calories. However, the body does require healthy fats. Moderate intake as part of a balanced diet is fine.
  • Calcium – Found in all cheese varieties, calcium may help boost fat burning and discourage fat absorption.
  • Sodium – Cheese contains added salt for flavor. Excess sodium promotes water retention and bloating.
  • Vitamin K2 – Found in some cheeses like gouda, vitamin K2 may help reduce risk of heart disease.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid – A type of fat found in small amounts in dairy that may promote fat loss.

Overall, cheese can be part of a healthy weight loss diet when consumed in moderation. Just be mindful of portion sizes.

How to pick the best cheeses for weight loss

To get the most nutrition and weight loss value from cheese, here are some tips for picking the best options:

  • Choose low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses – These have less fat and calories than regular cheese.
  • Go for high-protein, lower sodium varieties – Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are great options.
  • Pick cheese with probiotics – Probiotic-rich choices like gouda may benefit gut health.
  • Limit cheese to 1-2 servings daily – An ounce or two is a reasonable portion.
  • Avoid cheeses high in sodium – Check labels and select lower sodium options when possible.

Also consider your overall calorie needs. If trying to lose weight, you’ll want to limit total daily cheese portions to just 1-2 servings.

The best cheeses for weight loss

Below are some of the top cheeses to include in a weight loss diet. We’ll start with fresh soft cheeses lowest in fat and calories, then cover firmer cheese options.

Soft fresh cheeses

  • Cottage cheese – An excellent source of protein, cottage cheese contains around 13 grams per half cup serving. It’s low in fat and calories too. The protein will help keep you full. Mix in some berries for more nutrients.
  • Ricotta cheese – Ricotta has a creamy texture and mild flavor. Use it in cooking or combine with fresh fruit. It provides around 13 grams of protein per half cup.
  • Goat cheese – Lower in fat than hard cheeses, goat cheese is a good calcium source. Its tangy flavor means a little goes a long way.
  • Feta cheese – Along with protein, feta provides calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. Just watch portions, as feta is also relatively high in sodium.
  • Mozzarella – Fresh mozzarella is lower in fat and calories than whole milk versions. It also contains more calcium than many other cheeses.
  • Farmer’s cheese – Made from pressed cottage cheese curds, farmer’s cheese is mild and spreadable. It makes a lower fat substitute for cream cheese.

Reduced-fat firm cheeses

  • Swiss cheese – Try reduced-fat Swiss cheese for an excellent source of protein with less fat than full-fat Swiss. Also provides calcium and vitamin B12.
  • Cheddar cheese – For a healthier cheddar option, choose reduced-fat versions to slash the amount of fat and calories.
  • Parmesan cheese – While parmesan is lower in fat than many cheeses, it’s still high in sodium. Stick to a tablespoon or two sprinkled as a topping.
  • Gouda cheese – This Dutch cheese is a good source of protein. Some gouda varieties also provide gut-friendly probiotics.
  • Provolone cheese – With 10 grams of protein per ounce, provolone contains more protein than many cheeses. Opt for low-moisture, part-skim versions.

Blue cheese

  • Blue cheese – Despite its high fat content, one study found blue cheese to be an effective appetite suppressant, so a little may help with portion control.

Should you avoid any cheeses for weight loss?

Weight loss-friendly cheese options do exist. However, there are certain cheeses that may be best limited or avoided when trying to manage your weight. These include:

  • Full-fat cheeses – Full-fat varieties like brie tend to be the highest in calories and fat. Save them for an occasional treat.
  • Cream cheese – With over 100 calories and 10 grams of fat per ounce, cream cheese is extremely high in calories.
  • Cheese spreads – Cheese spreads and dips tend to be high in fat, calories, and sodium. Eat them sparingly.
  • Processed sliced cheese – Heavily processed “cheese products” provide less nutrition and can contain more sodium and preservatives.

Healthiest cheese options for weight loss

If you had to pick the absolute best cheeses for weight loss, these options offer nutritional profiles that may give you an edge:

  • Cottage cheese – Excellent source of protein, low in fat and calories.
  • Parmesan cheese – Lower in fat than hard cheeses if used sparingly.
  • Feta cheese – Fairly low in fat and gives a big flavor punch.
  • Reduced-fat mozzarella – Still provides the great melty properties of mozzarella.
  • Provolone cheese – Good protein content and firmer texture means it may promote fullness.
  • Swiss cheese – Try reduced-fat Swiss for plenty of flavor and fat-burning calcium.

Are cheese and weight loss compatible?

Yes, enjoying cheese can absolutely be part of an overall healthy weight loss plan. While cheese does contain a good amount of fat and calories, it also offers nutrition that may promote weight loss.

Benefits of cheese for weight loss include:

  • High protein content – Protein is very filling and helps maintain muscle mass.
  • Calcium – Linked to lower body fat and greater fat breakdown.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid – A type of fat that may reduce body fat.
  • Nutrient density – Cheese contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

The key is choosing healthier cheese options and keeping portions in check. About 1-2 ounces of cheese daily should fit into most calorie-controlled weight loss diets.

Tips for adding cheese to a weight loss diet

Here are some suggestions for working cheese into your diet if you’re trying to shed pounds:

  • Pick low-fat or reduced-fat varieties to slash calories.
  • Measure cheese portions – 1-2 ounces is a reasonable serving.
  • Add cheese to salads for more protein.
  • Use cheese as a topping instead of making it the main ingredient.
  • Choose cheese over unhealthy snack foods.
  • Eat cheese with fiber-rich fruits, veggies, or whole grains.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of added sugars with cheese.
  • Read labels and pick lower sodium cheese when possible.

Cheese recipes for weight loss

You can enjoy cheese as part of many delicious recipes when trying to lose weight. Here are some healthy cheese-based recipes to try during your weight loss journey:

Breakfast recipes

  • Cheese and veggie omelet
  • Cottage cheese pancakes
  • Parmesan spinach breakfast wrap
  • Ricotta breakfast toast

Light lunch and dinner recipes

  • Caprese salad with mozzarella
  • Turkey swiss panini
  • Vegetable and goata cheese frittata
  • Chicken avocado salad with feta
  • Broccoli cheddar soup

Healthy side dishes

  • Cauliflower mashed “potatoes” with parmesan
  • Green beans with feta
  • Zucchini fritters made with feta

Savory snacks

  • Cheese crisps made with parmesan
  • Cheese and apple slices
  • Ricotta stuffed cherry tomatoes
  • Cottage cheese scooped with crackers

Final thoughts on cheese and weight loss

Cheese can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet geared towards weight loss. Just focus on portion control and pick cheese varieties that are lower in fat and sodium. Pair cheese with fruits, veggies, and whole grains. If trying to lose weight, limit cheese to about 1-2 servings daily.

Some of the best options for weight loss include cottage cheese, feta, parmesan, provolone, mozzarella, ricotta, and reduced-fat varieties of swiss and cheddar. These provide plenty of nutrition without all the extra calories and fat.

Incorporate low-fat cheeses into your breakfasts, salads, main dishes, sides, and snacks. With the right choices and portions, cheese can be a tasty calorie-smart addition to your weight loss diet.