Is cream cheese good for keto?

Quick Answer

Yes, cream cheese is an excellent keto-friendly food. It’s high in fat and low in carbs, making it a perfect addition to a ketogenic diet. Cream cheese can help you meet your fat intake goals while allowing you to enjoy cheesecake, dips, spreads, and more on the keto diet.

What is Keto?

The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with the Atkins diet. It involves drastically reducing your intake of carbs and replacing them with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits.

Main Features of a Keto Diet

Here are the main features of a ketogenic diet:

  • Very low carb intake – Typically under 50 grams per day or even 30 grams per day. This is below the standard recommendation of 150 grams per day
  • Moderate protein intake – Around average or slightly below average is recommended to maintain adequate ketone levels
  • High fat intake – Around 70-80% of calories come from fat. This includes saturated fats, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
  • Typically no more than 5% of calories come from carbs

Benefits of a Keto Diet

Here are some of the top scientifically proven benefits of following a ketogenic diet:

  • Weight loss: Many studies show keto is more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet, even in the long term. It’s especially effective at reducing belly fat.
  • Reduced appetite: Ketogenic diets lead to a drastic reduction in hunger and calorie intake.
  • Improved heart health: Keto diets have been linked to significant improvements in heart health, including reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors.
  • Increased mental focus: Ketosis seems to help mental acuity and focus. Some studies have found improved scores on tests of memory, information processing speed and executive function.
  • Diabetes management: The keto diet can drastically reduce blood sugar levels while also lowering diabetes medication needs.
  • Epilepsy treatment: The keto diet has proven effective as a treatment for epilepsy in children.

So in summary, keto provides weight loss, health and performance benefits for many people. However, it’s important to note that certain populations should avoid the keto diet, including those with kidney disease or pancreatitis.

Is Cream Cheese Allowed on Keto?

Yes, cream cheese is perfectly keto-friendly.

Here are some key facts about cream cheese:

  • High in fat: An ounce (28g) of regular cream cheese provides 5g fat, 5g of which are saturated fat.
  • Low carb: An ounce of cream cheese has around 1g net carb.
  • High calories: It’s relatively high in calories, providing around 100 calories in a 1-ounce serving.
  • No cholesterol: Despite being high in saturated fat, it contains no cholesterol.

The low amount of carbs and high fat content make cream cheese a perfect keto food.

You can eat cream cheese on its own, add it to recipes or use it as a base for spreads and dips.

Just watch your portions, as the calories can add up quickly if you overindulge in cream cheese. Around 1–2 ounces (28-57g) per day should fit into most keto diets.

Keto Diet Guidelines on Dairy

Most dairy products are allowed on keto diets, although certain low-fat and reduced-fat dairy foods are discouraged.

Full-fat dairy like cream, butter and hard cheeses are encouraged, as they provide a high amount of fat with minimal carbs. Milk should be limited to small servings of whole milk or heavy whipping cream.

Soft cheeses and cottage cheese fall somewhere in the middle. They provide more protein and carbs than hard cheeses and cream. Fortunately, even large amounts of these are usually fine on keto, as long as your carb intake remains low overall.

Here are typical carb counts found in dairy:

Dairy Food Grams of Carbs Per Ounce (28g)
Heavy cream 0.4 grams
Butter 0 grams
Cream cheese 0.6–1 grams
Goat cheese 0.4 grams
Cheddar cheese 0.4 grams
Mozzarella 1 gram
Swiss cheese 0.5 grams
Blue cheese 1 gram
Feta cheese 1.5 grams
Cottage cheese 3.5 grams
Plain whole milk yogurt 5 grams
2% milk 5 grams

As you can see, all cheese varieties fit into a keto diet, although some have more carbs than others. However, even the highest carb options like cottage cheese and yogurt can be included in small to moderate amounts.

The only dairy products that aren’t keto friendly are low-fat and fat-free varieties. These offer no metabolic advantage and can actually disrupt ketosis by providing more carb calories than fat calories.

Most Keto-Friendly Ways to Eat Cream Cheese

Here are some of the most keto-friendly ways to enjoy cream cheese:

Cream Cheese Frosting or Filling

Cream cheese is an essential ingredient in keto cheesecake and can be used to make dairy-based frostings and fillings for fat bombs, cupcakes, cookies and more. Simply combine cream cheese with your favorite low carb sweetener to make a tasty frosting.

Bagels and Baked Goods

You can make keto bagels, breads, muffins and more with almond or coconut flour, using cream cheese in place of regular flour. Adding cream cheese gives these baked goods a rich taste and creamy texture.

Pancakes and Waffles

Make keto pancakes and waffles extra tasty by topping them with cream cheese. This adds flavor and fat to what would otherwise be a relatively lean breakfast.

Dips and Spreads

Cream cheese is the ideal base for keto-friendly dips and spreads. Simply mix it with herbs, spices, chopped veggies or other ingredients to make dips for snacking.


Add a few tablespoons of cream cheese to keto smoothies to make them rich and creamy. This adds healthy fats and gives smoothies a milkshake-like thickness.

Fat Bombs

Keto fat bombs are snackable fat-rich treats that can help you meet your macros. Cream cheese can be used to make both sweet and savory fat bombs.


Cream cheese goes well with typical keto breakfast foods like eggs, bacon and smoked salmon. Using it to top keto waffles or pancakes is another option.


From cheesecake to mousse, cream cheese is the perfect way to finish a keto meal. There are endless dessert recipes incorporating cream cheese to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Amount of Cream Cheese on Keto

When eating keto, there’s no explicit limit on how much cream cheese you can eat. However, there are a few factors to consider:

– Calories – Cream cheese is high in calories at around 100 per ounce (28 grams). Track your intake and reduce other calorie sources if needed.

– Net carbs – Even though it’s low carb, overdoing cream cheese could make it difficult to stay under 20–50 grams of net carbs per day.

– Fat intake – The high saturated fat content means cream cheese should be balanced with other fats like olive oil and avocados.

– Portion control – Stick to about 1–2 ounces (28-57 grams) at a time and be mindful of servings. It’s easy to overeat cream cheese since it’s so tasty.

As a general guideline, limiting cream cheese to around 1–4 ounces (28-113 grams) daily should be fine for most people on keto. This allows room for it in your diet while ensuring adequate nutrition from other foods.

Health Concerns With Eating Too Much Cream Cheese on Keto

Eating too much of any single food on a keto diet could cause issues.

Here are some potential downsides of overdoing it on the cream cheese:

  • Weight gain – Cream cheese is very energy dense. Eating large amounts can make it hard to maintain a calorie deficit.
  • Insufficient nutrition – Filling your diet with cream cheese may leave less room for nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, meats and fish.
  • GI issues – Dairy sensitivity is common. Consuming too much may cause bloating, gas or diarrhea in lactose intolerant people.
  • High cholesterol – Large amounts of full-fat dairy could worsen cholesterol markers in some individuals, increasing heart disease risk.
  • Fatigue – Overdoing any single food can cause fatigue and low energy. A varied keto diet with sufficient protein is best.
  • Reduced ketosis – Too many carbs from cream cheese could potentially reduce ketone levels or even knock you out of ketosis.

Moderation is key. While cream cheese is great for keto diets, overdoing it could backfire. Monitor your response and adjust your intake to feel your best.

Healthier Substitutes for Cream Cheese on Keto

If you find you don’t tolerate cream cheese well or want more variety, consider these healthier keto-friendly substitutes:

Mascarpone Cheese

Like cream cheese, mascarpone is soft, spreadable and works great in dips and desserts. However, it’s higher in fat at 10 grams per ounce (28 grams).

Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta is a fresh Italian cheese with a similar texture to cream cheese but fewer carbs at around 3 grams per ounce (28 grams).

Sour Cream

Sour cream has a tangy flavor that works for savory dishes. Two tablespoons (30 grams) provide 2 grams net carbs and 5 grams fat.

Full-Fat Cottage Cheese

Full-fat cottage cheese has fewer carbs than reduced-fat varieties at 5 grams per 1/2 cup (113 grams).

Heavy Cream

For a high-fat cream cheese swap, use heavy whipping cream. This works beautifully in smoothies, sauces and soups.

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream provides richness without dairy. Make sure to use full-fat canned options with minimal ingredients.


Avocados offer creamy texture and healthy fats for those sensitive to dairy. Use them in smoothies or on keto bagels.

Switching up your choices allows you to reap the unique benefits of each healthy fat source.

How Much Cream Cheese Can You Eat in a Day on Keto?

There’s no single amount of cream cheese that’s right for everyone on keto. The optimal amount depends on your macros, calories and dairy tolerance.

That said, here are some general guidelines on how much cream cheese you can eat per day:

– 1–2 ounces (28–57 grams): This is a reasonable amount that provides fat and flavor without excessive calories.

– 3–4 ounces (85–113 grams): The higher end is fine for most if it fits into your daily carb limit and calorie needs.

– 5+ ounces (142+ grams): Large amounts of cream cheese are unnecessary on keto for most people. This may provide excess calories without additional benefits.

To determine the right cream cheese intake for you:

– Monitor your response in terms of energy, appetite and digestion.
– Adjust amounts based on your macro needs and calorie intake.
– Compare days you eat low vs. higher amounts to gauge your sweet spot.

The optimal amount can vary drastically person to person. Track your cream cheese habits to learn how much (or little) your body needs.


Cream cheese can be included as part of a healthy ketogenic diet. It provides ample fat with minimal carbs, making it useful for reaching ketosis.

Enjoy cream cheese in moderation as part of an overall balanced low carb diet, varying your fat sources. Monitor your response, adjusting intake levels if needed.

While delicious, cream cheese is no nutritional powerhouse. Make sure to include plenty of nutritious whole foods like meat, seafood, eggs, low carb veggies, nuts and seeds as the foundation of your keto diet.

With smart usage, cream cheese can be a tasty addition to keto recipes and snacks.

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