Most people trying to lose weight often avoid cheese. Due to its high saturated fat content, cheese is not generally considered a weight-loss-friendly food.
As a result, most weight loss diets exclude cheese unless you are following a keto diet. However, studies show that three servings of dairy per day can reduce waist circumference among overweight or obese subjects.
Cheese is a significant part of many diets globally and is often associated with weight gain. Nevertheless, not all cheeses are equal regarding their nutritional value and effect on weight loss.
This article will look at the different varieties of cheese and determine which ones are good for weight loss.
From low-fat to high-protein options, the article will delve into the nutritional profiles of various kinds of cheese to help you make wise decisions about including cheese in your weight loss regimen.
Cheese – An Overview
Cheese is created using milk from various sources, such as cows, sheep, goats, buffaloes, or a combination of these.
The length of time one can store cheese varies based on the type which depends on the maturation period. While some varieties require months, othes take years to reach the desired level of maturation and ageing.
The four essential components of natural cheese are milk, salt, ‘good bacteria’, and an enzyme known as rennet. Cheesemakers then add other ingredients to these basics to create the many different types of cheese that we know and love.
Cheese is a dairy product and retains the many nutrients in milk, including calcium, phosphorus, protein, niacin, and vitamins B12 and A. The quantity of these nutrients in cheese can depend on the type of cheese.
Those who are lactose intolerant can choose from various hard kinds of cheese, such as cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss, which are generally low in lactose. On the other hand, creamier cheeses such as cottage cheese, ricotta, and cream cheese tend to be higher in lactose.
Is Cheese Good for Weight Loss?
If you’re looking to lose weight, cheese can be a great addition to your diet when consumed in moderation. Opt for cheese with the lowest calorie, saturated fat, and sodium content. In addition, cheese is full of high-quality protein. When combined with other fibre-rich foods like wholegrain bread, lettuce, cucumber and tomato cheese can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the temptation to indulge in unhealthy snacks.
Adding cheese (only in moderation) to your mid-meal snack choices can help decrease your total calorie consumption. Studies have demonstrated that dairy products like cheese and yoghurt that are solid or semi-solid are more filling than drinks. Therefore, you will not be tempted to eat more than your body needs.
A study indicates that high calcium intake may be beneficial for reducing body weight. Cheese is an essential source of calcium for those with lactose intolerance, similar to other dairy products.
The HealthifyPro Tip
Replacing mayonnaise with cheese can be a great option if you’re looking to cut down on calories. Full-fat mayonnaise has nearly 94 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon, while most low-fat cheeses have 30 calories and around 2.5 g of fat per tablespoon.
It is essential to remember that everyone’s needs are different. So, to get the best out of your diet and fitness journey, you can consult a HealthifyMe nutritionist who can provide you with tailor-made diet and fitness plans to suit your health goals. So, with the help of a nutritionist, you can enjoy cheese without compromising on your health goals.
Which Cheese is Good for Weight Loss?
Cottage cheese, essentially paneer, is fresh, soft, creamy in texture and does not require any ageing process to maintain its flavour. Furthermore, it contains high amount of protein, meeting 50% of the daily requirement. To ensure a lower saturated fat content, selecting low-fat cottage cheese with 1% to 2% milk fat is better.
According to USDA, 100 grams of cottage cheese contains:
- Calories: 72 calories
- Protein: 12.4 g
- Total fat: 1.02 g
The smooth texture of cheddar cheese comes from being aged for several months. Cheddar cheese is an excellent source of vitamin K and calcium, making it an ideal food for strengthening bones, increasing blood flow, and reducing the risk of heart disease.
According to USDA, one slice of low-fat cheddar cheese contains:
- Calories: 48.4 calories
- Protein: 6.83 g
- Total fat: 1.96 g
Parmesan cheese is a popular choice for soups, pasta, roasted vegetable dressing, or salads in a weight-loss diet. The best option is reduced-fat grated parmesan cheese as a topping.
As per USDA, one tablespoon of reduced-fat grated parmesan cheese contains
- Calories: 13. 2 calories
- Protein: 1 g
- Total fat: 1 g
Feta is a soft, salty white cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. It has a tangy taste and creamy texture and mixes well with all ingredients. Feta cheese contains CLA-bound linoleic acid, calcium, and protein to help maintain weight and improve body composition. You can also add crumbled feta cheese to salads, eggs, or vegetable dips.
As per USDA, one wedge of feta cheese contains
- Calories: 101 calories
- Protein: 5.4 g
- Total fat: 8.17 g
A weight loss diet is incomplete without ricotta cheese. Compared to most cheeses, ricotta is a healthier choice due to its less salt and fat content.
As per USDA, 100 grams of ricotta cheese contains
- Calories: 138 calories
- Protein: 11.4 g
- Total fat: 7.91 g
The HealthifyMe Note
Cheeses such as cheddar, cottage cheese, ricotta, parmesan and feta, which are lower in fat, can be beneficial for weight loss when eaten in moderation. However, avoiding ultra-processed cheeses and those with high sodium levels is essential, as these are not conducive to weight loss. Generally speaking, cheese is not the best for weight loss due to its high saturated fat content.
How Can You Incorporate Cheese Into Your Diet in a Healthy Way?
There are a few fruitful ways to incorporate cheese into your weight loss diet. Such as:
- Add cottage cheese to a bowl of fresh fruits or integrate it into your breakfast. You can also have salads and other appetisers with grilled or roasted cottage cheese. Its high protein and low carb content help your body build lean muscle mass.
- Use low-calorie cheese instead of other condiments.
- You can use feta cheese in your salads and pizza. It will enhance the taste to a different level and is the healthiest option for the heart, bones, and teeth.
- Mozzarella cheese is a medium-calorie cheese that you can consume as a snack, and it will reduce hunger in the next meal. For example, adding cheese to your breakfast can help you feel full until lunchtime. Thus, it can help you eat less between meals, reducing your calorie intake.
Risks of Overconsumption of Cheese Aginst Weight Loss
Most cheeses are high in saturated fat. Hence, overeating can lead to weight gain. Other side effects that arise from eating cheese in excess are:
- Indigestion, constipation, and stomach problems, especially if you have irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance.
- High sodium levels from overeating cheese increase your heart disease, dehydration, and water retention risk.
- If you are lactose intolerant to a higher degree, you might suffer from diarrhoea, flatulence, and other unpleasant gastric symptoms.
It is time to remove the negative stigma attached to consuming dairy when trying to shed pounds.
Cheese can be part of a healthy weight-loss diet as long as you consume it in moderation. Feta, ricotta, cottage cheese, reduced-fat swiss, or parmesan cheese are all good options.
Cheese can also benefit those on a ketogenic diet, as it is low-carb and high-fat. Additionally, cheese can provide essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, K, and B complex.
Nonetheless, it is vital to be aware that cheese can be moderately high in sodium and cholesterol, so always consume cheese in moderation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is it OK to eat cheese when losing weight?
A. Cheese can be an excellent part of a weight loss diet due to its nutrient content. Protein is an effective weight loss aid as it helps reduce appetite and make you feel fuller for longer. However, cheese is high in calories and saturated fat, so one should consume it in moderation. Moreover, it is better to choose low-fat or fat-free varieties.
Q. Which cheese is good for belly fat?
A. Cheese variants such as Feta, low-fat cottage cheese, cheddar, swiss, and parmesan are excellent choices for weight loss, especially regarding reducing belly fat. Not only are these cheeses full of beneficial nutrients, but they also come in low-calorie servings.
Q. Is cheese good for burning belly fat?
A. Cheese can be a part of a weight loss diet, but only when consumed in moderation. Low-fat cottage cheese, in particular, is a good source of protein and can help keep you feeling full, contributing to weight loss. However, it is also high in calories and saturated fat. Hence, overeating can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area.
To reduce belly fat, it is essential to focus on creating an overall calorie deficit through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. For example, eating cheese as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods, combined with regular physical activity and controlled calorie intake, may help you achieve your desired weight loss goals. However, it is essential to note that spot-reducing belly fat is not possible, as weight loss is effective when you burn more calories than you consume.
Q. Can I gain weight by eating cheese?
A. Cheese is a food that can help both in weight gain and weight loss journey. It entirely depends on your choice and priority because the variety of cheese you consume matters and in what proportion. Blue cheese, cream cheese, and American cheese are some high-calorie cheeses that will make you gain weight, while cottage, parmesan, and feta are excellent for weight loss.
The Research Sources
1. Dugan, C. E., & Fernandez, M. L. (2014). Effects of dairy on metabolic syndrome parameters: a review. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 87(2), 135–147.
2. Hess, J.M. The Impact of Dairy Intake on Adiposity and Satiety in Adults. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep 15, 14 (2021)
3. Ping Li, Chaonan Fan, Yuanyuan Lu, Kemin Qi, Effects of calcium supplementation on body weight: a meta-analysis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 104, Issue 5, November 2016, Pages 1263–1273
4. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 173417
5. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 173439
6. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 168098
7. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 173420
8. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 171248