If you’re following a ketogenic diet, you know it’s about a lot more than counting calories. In fact, if you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t really have to worry too much about your calorie intake. But for the keto diet to put you into that coveted fat-burning state of ketosis, you do have to drastically reduce the amount of carbs you’re taking in while increasing your fat intake. And with the wide variety of low-fat, no-fat, and high-fat dairy products on the market, this can get a little tricky, especially with something like cottage cheese, whose ingredient list can be all over the place. So if you love cottage cheese and are asking yourself, is cottage cheese keto friendly, we’ve got the answers you seek.
Ever wonder what the writer of that old nursery rhyme meant by the curds and whey Little Miss Muffet was eating until that spider walked up and ruined her day? It was cottage cheese!
Unlike cheeses that lend themselves to aging—think Parmesan and cheddar cheese—cottage cheese is a fresh cheese, which means it’s produced without curing. This gives cottage cheese a much milder flavor than its aged counterparts.
What’s more, cottage cheese is much easier and quicker to make than aged cheeses—so much so that it may even have been the first cheese produced in America. (The fact that it’s also a great way to ensure no milk goes to waste during the butter-making process was probably also a selling point to early settlers.)
Cottage cheese is traditionally made by adding lactic acid or vinegar to milk until it curdles. The milk is then heated and cooled and the curds that have formed cut into cubes so additional whey can drain out. The curds are then heated once more, drained, pressed, and rinsed, and additional salt (and sometimes heavy cream) added.
Like other types of cheeses, cottage cheese is gluten free and nutrient dense. Yet even full-fat cottage cheese manages to pack all that nutrition in about half the calories you’ll find in many other types of cheese. Just check out what you get in a cup:
Plus, if you choose cottage cheese that’s been produced with the aid of lactic acid bacteria, you’re also eating a fermented food that’s rich in gut-strengthening probiotics.
And the high protein content—more than that found in a comparable amount of plain Greek yogurt—helps keep you feeling fuller longer, which has been proven in studies to aid with weight-loss goals.
What’s more, the majority of the protein in cottage cheese—approximately 80%—is made up of a type of slowly absorbed milk protein called casein. This protein is also what makes cottage cheese a popular choice among athletes, as it’s been found in studies to be just as effective as whey protein at stimulating muscle growth and even more effective at blocking muscle breakdown.
And, like other dairy products, the protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats in cottage cheese have been found to contribute to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome—a group of conditions, including elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, that’s associated with a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
While cottage cheese is often made using low-fat milk—and some brands are high in sodium, sugar, and other additives—with so many different varieties to choose from, it’s really easy to find the fat content you’re looking for and still come away with as few as 4 grams of carbs per cup.
Cottage cheese also makes a great low-carb, high-protein alternative to other dairy products, like cream cheese, which contains half the protein and a third more net carbs, and sour cream, which contains less than a fifth of the protein and almost a third more net carbs.
Because it pairs well with both sweet and savory ingredients, cottage cheese makes the perfect addition to any low-carb diet. In fact, it first became popular as a health and diet food in the 1950s.
While cottage cheese made a name for itself as an integral part of fruit salads and even traditionally high-carb foods like lasagna, its versatility means what you make with it is limited only by your imagination.
So whether you’re in the mood for some healthy snacking or planning a main course, we’ve got some low-carb cottage cheese recipes that will perk up any keto diet meal plan.
Unless you’re doing a little fasting, you just can’t start the day without breakfast. And with this keto-friendly, low-carb recipe from The Worktop, you can start your day with a healthy protein boost.
In the mood for a delicious low-carb, high-protein lunch? Then try this quick and easy recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen.
If you’re looking for a keto-friendly sauce you can use as a topping for meat or veggies—or even as a dip—this recipe from Diet Doctor could be your new favorite go-to. And it’s super easy to make too!
Puree all ingredients in your blender of choice until smooth—that’s it!
You can also vary the recipe to suit your taste. So feel free to play with the seasonings or use sour cream or Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise.
We round out our five keto-friendly cottage cheese recipes with this offering from Delish Studio. With broccoli, flaxseeds, and savory spices, these cheese balls can help take your keto meal plan from boring to exciting in just 30 minutes!
As you can see, cottage cheese is a healthy food that can make the perfect addition to the ketogenic diet. Just be sure to read the list of ingredients first so you know you’re getting all the fat you want and none of the carbs, fillers, or artificial ingredients you don’t.