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Is Cheddar Cheese Good for Weight Loss? Benefits, Calories & More

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan | Updated on 27 January 2022

It’s hard to imagine a life without cheese because it’s simply too good to give up. But what if you’re on a diet?

Is cheddar good for weight loss, or do you have to say goodbye to your longtime friend — cheddar cheese? 

Can I Eat Cheddar Cheese When Trying to Lose Weight?

There are some key vitamins and minerals in cheddar cheese that can complement your weight loss efforts if you don’t eat too much. Cheese Louise—who would’ve thought cheddar cheese is good for weight loss?! 

The thing to remember about eating cheese on a diet is that cheese alone is not the answer since it has a fair amount of calories for it’s weight. 

Weight Loss Benefits of Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese serves as a fair source of amino acids, calcium, and even some amino acids which are all great for overall health. 

If you eat cheese in moderation, it can be a good option to give you the essential fats, vitamins, and proteins your body needs to convert to fuel and keep shedding poundage. 

  • Calcium

Cheese is a great source of calcium. A chunk of cheddar about the size of your thumb contains about 180 mg of calcium, or roughly 15% of your daily recommended amount. Calcium is necessary for teeth and bone health. Especially if you are new along your weight loss and fitness journey or if you are trying to bulk up, calcium is not a nutrient to be ignored. In dairy-heavy countries like Switzerland, an average of 71% of the general public’s calcium intake comes in the form of milk or cheese.

  • Protein and Amino Acids

An ounce of cheddar cheese has about 7 grams of protein. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids, and your body needs both protein and amino acids for energy, building and repairing muscle, creating hormones, and more.

Once amino acid called L-Tyrosine is being used for it’s supposed secondary weight loss benefits by some. Tyrosine can be produced by the body in combination with another amino acid, phenylalanine. High-protein foods like cheese contain both of these amino acids, and help your body create more, providing more protein and more fuel. Tyrosine boosts brain function, and is showing potential to be effective for weight loss

  • Saturated fats

An ounce of cheddar cheese contains roughly 7 grams of saturated fat. While we know fats aren’t the enemy we used to think they were, dairy products can pose a health risk when paired with high-calorie, high-fat foods that may exceed your daily recommended amounts and lead to higher cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends a diet that achieves 5-6% of daily calories from saturated fat. Cheese isn’t doing you any fitness favors on foods like pizza and burgers.

Remember where cheese came from: people who were outdoors and fairly active most of the time. Whether you’re an ancient farmer or a modern athlete, cheese can provide an active person the energy boost they need to keep burning calories for longer, and isn’t that what weight loss is all about? The key is staying active to best utilize the fats you consume.

  • Vitamins and Minerals

There are abundant vitamins in cheddar cheese that your body needs. These include vitamins A, B6, B12, and D. In addition to calcium, cheese also contains iodine, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It deserves to be said that millions of people around the world do not get sufficient quantities of these vitamins with a low-dairy diet. So, if you can stomach it, dairy can provide you with tons of essential nutrients and vitamins to help with weight loss.

Blocks of cheddar cheese cut into different shapes.

Health Benefits of Cheddar Cheese Ingredients

  • Cultured Milk

All ruminant animal food products—like milk, cheese, and meat—contain a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs). Research has shown CLAs to be a promising anti-obesity agent and also effective against cancer. If you’re not allergic to them, fortifying your diet with some dairy products is a good way to get these CLAs.

Ripened cheese contains virtually no lactose at all. Cheddar can be easier to digest for many people with lactose sensitivities who still want the benefits from milk. As cheese requires bacteria, you might also be putting healthy probiotics into your gut that can help balance pH levels and break food down more efficiently, potentially making cheddar cheese good for weight loss. 

Milk also contains vitamins and minerals, like calcium, potassium, vitamin A, and more.

  • Rennet

Rennet is an enzyme found in the stomachs of ruminant animals (i.e. cows, goats, sheep) and helps separate the curds from the whey to produce cheese in the fermentation process. Rennet has little overall health or nutritional effects on its own. However, it can be a potent allergen and should be avoided if this applies to you. 

Cons of Eating Cheddar Cheese for Weight Loss

While the ingredient list in cheddar cheese is pretty simple, the nutritional elements are a little more complex. Let’s break down some of the contents in cheddar cheese to see how they can fit into your diet.

  • Calories in Cheddar Cheese

An ounce of cheddar cheese contains only about 120 calories, so if you don’t overdo it, cheese can definitely be good for weight loss. If cheddar isn’t your style, consider cottage cheese, which has more protein and fewer calories and can make you feel fuller by eating less. 

  • Salt

Salt and sodium is necessary, but can also lead to bloating, belly fat, and water retention. In cheese, salt is required to remove moisture, create a harder texture, and control microbial growth. To avoid sodium overload, moderate your cheese consumption, drink lots of water, and be sure to include leafy greens in your diet as well as plenty of exercise. 

Cheese can be bad for weight loss when eaten with other foods that are high in refined grains, hydrogenated oils, fats, and sodium. Whether cheese is good for weight loss depends on what you eat it with: the cheese on your burger and pizza won’t help you lose weight, but if grated onto a salad and eaten post-workout, it certainly can. 

Healthiest Cheeses for Weight Loss

Despite its saturated fats and sodium, cheddar cheese can be a good addition to an active lifestyle and a balanced diet. Some cheeses, however, may be better options if you are trying to keep an eye on blood pressure, sodium, and cholesterol. 

Cheese that is higher in moisture typically has less salt , but to curb your hunger and still get the benefits you can opt for low-salt cheeses such as:

  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Paneer
  • Cottage cheese
  • Swiss cheese

Cottage cheese also has almost double the protein of cheddar, and may be the best cheese for weight loss. Another one of the healthiest cheeses is goat cheese, which is low in salt, high in protein, and free of lactose. And if you want to experiment with non-cheese options altogether that have a somewhat cheesy taste, try nutritional yeast, which has its own plethora of protein at a fraction of the calories.

So is cheddar cheese good for weight loss? If you maintain a good balance of healthy foods, veggies, and exercise, then it certainly can be a great energy boosting, vitamin-packed bit of goodness. 

Remember, the key to weight loss is to create a calorie deficit (expending more energy than you consume). Other than picking healthy foods, this is perhaps the most important weight loss rule to live by.

References

[1] Den Hartigh L. J. (2019). Conjugated linoleic acid effects on cancer, obesity, and atherosclerosis: a review of pre-clinical and human trials with current perspectives. Nutrients11(2), 370. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11020370

[2] Walther, B., Schmid, A., Sieber, R., et al. (2008). Cheese in nutrition and health. Dairy Sci. Technol. 88, 389–405. https://doi.org/10.1051/dst:2008012

[3] Cheese Science Toolkit. (2019). Top 5 Cheese Myths Debunked. https://www.cheesescience.org/5myths.html

[4] Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). The Nutrition Source: Cheese. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/cheese/

[5] Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Protein. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/protein

[6] Cheese Science Toolkit. (2020). Cheese Crystals. https://www.cheesescience.org/crystals.html

[7] The American Heart Association. (2021). Saturated Fat. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats

[8] Dekker, L. H., Vinke, P. C., Riphagen, I. J., et al. (2019). Cheese and healthy diet: associations with incident cardio-metabolic diseases and all-cause mortality in the general population. Frontiers in nutrition6, 185. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2019.00185  

[9] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019). FoodDate Central: Cottage Cheese. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/328841/nutrients 

[10] University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School Center for Applied Nutrition. (2020). Nutritional Yeast—Nourishing or No-Go? https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/blog/blog-posts/2020/2/nutritional-yeast–nourishing-or-no-go/ 

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.