It's no secret that Americans have a love affair with cheese. As a matter of fact, according to a recent survey of 1,000 adults in the U.S. conducted by Wakefield Research, 96% of Americans are cheese eaters. And among those surveyed, one-third report eating cheese an average of three times each day. All that cheese consumption may explain why three out of four U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. However, if you're on a weight loss journey but can't imagine life without that creamy, savory cheese goodness, we have some good news. We spoke with Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian with Balance One Supplements, who shares her top insider tips to lose weight without giving up cheese.
Get excited, because you won't have to end your passionate love affair with cheese! It's all about eating smart when you do decide to indulge. Keep reading to learn about 10 ways to lose weight without giving up cheese. And when you're done, don't miss out on the 5 Grocery Store "Cheeses" That Aren't Actually Cheese.
Choose low-fat cheese varieties.
Choose low-fat cheese options that are equally satisfying but with fewer calories. Think light mozzarella, reduced-fat cheddar, or skim milk ricotta for a guilt-free indulgence. These options retain the delicious taste you love while being kinder to your waistline.
"Opt for low-fat or reduced-fat versions of your favorite cheeses," advises Best. "These options have fewer calories and saturated fats, making them a healthier choice for weight management."
Practice portion control.
Enjoying cheese doesn't mean going overboard. Stick to moderate portions to savor the flavor without sabotaging your weight loss efforts. You may be surprised at how satisfying a small serving of cheese can be when paired with other nutritious foods.
"Cheese can be high in calories, so be mindful of your portions. Measure out a reasonable serving size, and avoid mindlessly snacking on large quantities," says Best.
Pair cheese with fiber-rich foods.
Balance your cheese consumption with fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The fiber will keep you feeling full and satisfied, preventing cheese overload. Enjoy a delightful cheese and apple combo, or sprinkle some cheese over a hearty quinoa salad for a wholesome and filling meal.
Best tells us, "Combine cheese with fiber-rich foods like whole-grain crackers, vegetables, or fruits. The fiber will help you feel fuller, preventing overeating."
Opt for stronger-flavored cheeses.
Use stronger-flavored cheeses like feta or blue cheese to take your cheese game to the next level. Their bold flavors mean you can use less while still getting that cheesy punch. For instance, consider crumbling a bit of goat cheese over your favorite roasted vegetables to elevate the taste without piling on excess calories.
"Stronger-flavored cheeses, like feta, parmesan, or aged cheddar, pack a lot of flavor in smaller amounts," says Best. "You'll still enjoy the taste without consuming large quantities."
Use cheese as a garnish.
Add cheese as a tasty garnish rather than the main event. Sprinkle some Parmesan on your salad or pasta for that delightful finishing touch. Using cheese as an accent will deliver the same taste you crave without overwhelming your dish with unnecessary calories.
"Instead of making cheese the main ingredient in a dish, use it as a garnish to add flavor without adding too many calories," says Best.
Snack on cheese mindfully.
When snacking on cheese, do it mindfully. Sit down, savor each bite, and truly appreciate the taste. Mindful eating can prevent overeating and reduce calorie intake. For example, create a cheese platter with various textures and flavors.
Best tells us, "If you love cheese as a snack, savor it mindfully. Focus on the taste and texture to fully enjoy each bite, which can help prevent overeating."
Incorporate protein-rich cheeses.
Choose protein-packed cheeses like cottage cheese or Parmesan to fuel your body and keep hunger at bay. Not only will these cheeses provide essential nutrients, but they'll also help you feel satisfied and less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks.
"Choose cheeses that are higher in protein, like cottage cheese or mozzarella, to promote satiety and keep you feeling full for longer," advises Best.
Balance your overall diet.
Enjoy cheese as part of a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. "Make sure your overall diet is balanced and includes a variety of nutritious foods," states Best. "Don't rely solely on cheese as a protein source, but incorporate lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals."
Avoid cheese-based processed foods.
Steer clear of cheese-loaded processed foods like cheesy snacks or frozen pizzas. Processed cheese products often contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and preservatives, which can wreck your weight loss goals.
"Be cautious with processed foods that contain cheese," cautions Best. "These often contain added fats and sodium, which can cause weight gain," says Best.
Plan your cheese intake.
Plan your cheese intake mindfully throughout the day, and consider how it fits into your health and nutrition goals. Make conscious choices about when and how you incorporate cheese into meals and snacks, ensuring it aligns with your weight loss strategy.
"Instead of consuming cheese haphazardly throughout the day, plan when and how much cheese you'll eat. Being intentional about your cheese consumption can help you manage your calorie intake more effectively," says Best.