Is Cream Cheese Keto Friendly? Carbs and Calories in Cream Cheese


cream cheese keto

Cream cheese is a soft cheese with a silky consistency.  It makes a great addition to the Keto diet, as long as you avoid using it as a spread for bread, crackers, and bagels, which are high carb accoutrements.

Whipped cream cheese contains less fat and fewer calories per serving and is a better option if you’re following a calorie reduction plan instead. 

The fat and protein in cream cheese help keep you feeling satiated so that you avoid snacking between meals.  You’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamin A and riboflavin with each serving. 

What’s more, cream cheese might actually help you to lose weight.  Studies show that overweight individuals are more likely to have low calcium levels. Because cream cheese is a good source of calcium, it may offer weight-loss benefits.

Keep reading to find out more about cream cheese and all the ways you can incorporate this delicious cheese into your low carb lifestyle.

How Many Carbs are in Cream Cheese?

  • One tablespoon of cream cheese contains 0.6 grams of carbs.
  • Including 100 grams of cream cheese into your recipes adds 4.1 grams of carbs.

How Many Calories are in Cream Cheese?

  • Each tablespoon of cream cheese contains 49 calories.
  • Including 100 grams of cream cheese into your recipes adds 342 calories.

How Is Cream Cheese Made?

Cream cheese is most often made using cream or a combination of both milk and cream. The cream is first pasteurized to kill any microorganisms and then lactic acid bacteria are introduced. 

Carob bean gum and carrageenan are then included to thicken the cheese and give it a better texture.  Additionally, a clotting enzyme is added to help the cheese form into a firmer consistency. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size:  1 Tablespoon (14.5 g) of Cream Cheese
Calories 49
Total Fat 5 grams 7%
Saturated fat 2.8 grams 14%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.2 grams
Monounsaturated fat 1.2 grams
Cholesterol 16 milligrams 5%
Sodium 46.5 milligrams 1%
Potassium 20 milligrams 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0.6 grams 0%
Dietary fiber 0 grams 0%
Sugar 0.5 grams
Protein 0.9 grams 1%
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% Iron 0%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 0%
Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 0%

Popular Cream Cheese Brands

  • Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia Whipped
  • Laughing Cow
  • Happy Farms
  • Weight Watchers Reduced Fat Cream Cheese Spread
  • Great Value (Walmart brand)
  • Kroger

*Most brands also come in Light and Reduced Fat.

cream cheese with bagel calories

Cream Cheese Price

Although the price of cream cheese varies by brand, you can usually pick up a container or package of cream cheese for around $2 to $5.

Health Benefits

Rich in Vitamin A

Cream cheese offers a good source of vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin that promotes healthy eye sight.  A one-ounce serving of cream cheese contains 10% of your daily recommended value of vitamin A.

Vitamin A is also instrumental in strengthening your immune system and protects many bodily organs, including the skin, lungs, and intestines.

Contains Disease-Fighting Antioxidants

Cream cheese is a source of antioxidants, which help protect your body’s cells from free-radicals.  Too many free radicals in the body leads to cellular damage and causes diseases, like cancer.

These antioxidants, namely lutein and zeaxanthin also help to promote healthy vision.

Probiotic Benefits for Gut Health

Cream cheese is made using a starter culture from lactic acid bacteria, which means they offer probiotics, healthy bacteria that increases digestive efficiency and supports your immune system.

Certain Lactobacillus strains reduce inflammatory response and strengthen your immune system to help your body fight off infection.

A research study conducted on mice that were fed cream cheese showed higher levels of beneficial short-chain fatty acids and a healthier bacteria profile in their stools.

Colon cells thrive on short-chain fatty acids and these acids also decrease inflammation and can benefit individuals with inflammatory disorders.

For the best benefit, purchase cream cheese products with “live and active cultures” written on the label and avoid heating the cream cheese to benefit from all of its living probiotics.

Side Effects

A diet high in saturated fat may increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems.  However, studies have shown that saturated fat from dairy products may be less harmful than the saturated fat contained in other foods.

Sodium is also a concern and may be high in some brands, especially “flavored” cream cheese.

The presence of estrogen and other steroid hormones in dairy products could disrupt the endocrine system and may increase the risk of certain cancers.

Individuals who are lactose intolerant may experience bloating, flatulence, or diarrhea.

Individuals with a sensitivity to casein, a protein found in milk, may experience inflammation symptoms, like congestion, acne, rash, or headaches.

Phosphorus contained in some cream cheese brands may be harmful to people with kidney disorders.

Constipation is frequently seen in people who consume a lot of dairy if they also consume a low fiber diet.

Tyramine is an amino acid found in many cheeses that can be associated with migraines and headaches.

cream cheese keto with with vegetables

Protein in Cream Cheese

There is almost a full gram of protein (0.9 grams) in just 1 tablespoon of cream cheese.

Fat in Cream Cheese

A single tablespoon of cream cheese contains 5 grams of fat, most of which is saturated.

Cream cheese in North America must be a minimum of 33% fat with less than 55% moisture.  Cream cheese in other continents may contain a higher fat content.

Cream Cheese Keto Options

Cream cheese is so versatile, it makes a great addition to low carb cooking and baking.  Its creamy texture makes it a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as desserts. 

If you’re following the Keto diet, try using cream cheese in the following ways:

  • Make a low carb cheese cake using cream cheese by substituting sweetener for the sugar and use a nut crumb base instead of graham wafers to keep it Keto.
  • Add cream cheese to low carb pancakes and waffles by substituting the wheat flour for almond flour.  You can also add a spoonful of protein powder in the batter to increase the protein content to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Add cream cheese to sugar-free cookies or fudge to increase the creaminess.  Just make sure you swap out the sugar for a natural sweetener, like Stevia granular sweetener.
  • Use cream cheese in your cheese sauces to make them rich and creamy.  Smother broccoli, Brussel sprouts and asparagus with cheese sauce.
  • Wrap cream cheese inside low carb sushi using cauliflower rice instead of sushi rice.
  • Use cream cheese, along with mozzarella, to bind together cauliflower pizza dough for a great texture and taste.
  • Combine cream cheese with sour cream and your favorite fresh or dried herbs for a tasty, low-carb dip for veggies.

Related Questions:

Can I Eat Cream Cheese if I’m Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose, the sugar found in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt may cause symptoms of bloating, gas, and diarrhea if consumed by individuals with lactose intolerance. 

Although it is recommended that those with this condition should limit or avoid dairy products, most lactose intolerant individuals can safely consume small amounts of lactose (up to 12 grams per meal).

Because cream cheese contains less than 2 grams of lactose per ounce, people with lactose intolerance may be able to tolerate this cheese.

Is Cream Cheese Vegetarian?

Firmer, saltier cheeses may contain animal rennet.  Rennet is an enzyme produced in the stomachs of mammals like dairy cows.  However, soft or mild cheeses like cream cheese (along with brie, Swiss, goat cheese, and mascarpone) are typically vegetarian.  

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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