The Optavia approved cheese list refers to varieties of cheese that can be consumed on the 5 and 1 plan of the weight loss program. The amount of cheese allowed may be limited based on factors such as the type of cheese, serving size, calorie count, and fat content.
The Optavia cheese list offers 11 different types of cheese such as cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese, and permits the consumption of cheese in every phase of the program.
Additionally, there are options for vegan or dairy-free cheese included on the Optavia cheese list. It’s important to note that certain types of cheese, such as Colby, Swiss, Fontina, and Manchego, may be limited or excluded from some Optavia plans due to their calorie or fat content.
In this article, we will cover the best types of cheese to have on Optavia, as well as how much cheese is considered a lean option on the program. Additionally, we will address the topic of obtaining sufficient protein from cheese if following Optavia on your own.
Can you eat cheese on Optavia 5 and 1?
Yes, cheeses can be included in the Optavia food list, but there are some limitations.
For example, cottage cheese is allowed on the 5 and 1 plan as a lean option because it has low-calorie content and high proteins.
On the contrary, feta cheese has a much higher fat and calorie count, so it’s allowed only as a condiment to add flavor.
So depending on the type of cheese you have, it can be either used as a lean protein, healthy fat, condiment, or Optavia fueling alternative, based on its nutritional content.
Keep in mind that Optimal Health 3 and 3 plan does allow a number of dairy products and cheeses, as described in their healthy exchanges food list.
Ultimately, the best cheese for your Optavia diet depends on your personal preferences and goals.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to choose cheeses that are lower in calories and fat.
The diagram presented below illustrates the serving sizes of different types of Optavia-approved cheese that qualify as lean portions, each with varying amounts of healthy fats.
What’s included in the Optavia Cheese List?
Here you can find the complete list of cheeses allowed on the 5 and 1 plan, together with serving sizes.
When making your next cheese selection, be sure to take into account the calorie and fat content to make a healthier choice.
1. Mozzarella (part-skim)
Mozzarella is a type of cheese that originated in Italy. It is made from buffalo or cow milk and has a soft, creamy texture.
Mozzarella is a popular cheese for pizza and other Italian dishes. A single ounce of mozzarella contains around 79 calories and 4.8 grams of fat (1).
Most of the fat in mozzarella is saturated fat. However, mozzarella also contains calcium, phosphorus, and other nutrients.
While mozzarella is moderate in calories and fat, you can include up to 8 oz (1 cup) in your Optavia lean and green meal.
What is the serving size of mozzarella cheese on Optavia?
- Mozzarella (Fresh): 2 oz + 1 healthy fat servings needed = 1/3 Leaner
- Mozzarella (Reduced Fat, Part Skim shredded with 3-6 g fat/oz): 1 cup = 1 Lean
Feta is one of these cheeses that I cannot stop eating (so I try to limit myself). This is a traditional Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk.
It has a firm, crumbly texture, and a slightly salty flavor. I like to use Feta in salads, sandwiches, and pies, or as a topping for pizzas and other dishes.
One ounce of feta cheese contains about 75 calories and 6 grams of fat (2). The fat content of feta cheese varies depending on the type of milk used to make it.
(During the 5 and 1 weight loss plan, you can only eat Feta cheese as a condiment.)
I recommend choosing a reduced-fat variety.
Sheep’s milk feta cheese is higher in fat than cow’s milk feta cheese. Feta cheese made from goat’s milk has the lowest fat content of all three types.
What is the serving size of Feta cheese on Optavia?
- Feta Cheese (Regular): 1 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
- Feta Cheese (Reduced Fat): 2 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
- Feta (Fat-Free): 1 oz = 1 Condiment
Ricotta is another type of cheese that originated in Italy. It is made from whey, which is the liquid left over from cheesemaking.
Ricotta is a versatile cheese that can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It has a mild flavor and a creamy texture.
Ricotta is lower in calories and fat than other types of cheese, making it a healthier option.
Ricotta can be used as your meatless option for Optavia meals – 8oz (1 cup) per serving. It is also a good source of calcium and protein.
What is the serving size of ricotta cheese on Optavia?
- Ricotta Cheese (Low Fat Part Skim- 2-3 grams fat per oz): 1 cup (8 oz) = 1 Lean
4. String cheese
You can have string cheese on Optavia as a fueling alternative if consumed in moderation as a low-fat, high-protein snack option.
One serving has usually under 100 calories and close to 8g of proteins (3).
To stay on the safe side, choose cheese strings made from Mozzarella cheese (not Cheddar).
They tend to have more proteins and lower fat content, compared to other dairy products.
Although I’m not a fan of cheese strings, I like to choose Great Value from Walmart.
And while they it has the same calories as Sargento or Frigo, they also have less sodium.
What is the serving size of string cheese on Optavia?
- String Cheese (Low Fat): 4 sticks = 1 Lean
5. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a soft, white cheese with a mild flavor. It is made from milk and cream and has a higher fat content than most other types of cheese.
Cream cheese is often used as a spread on bread or crackers, or as a filling for desserts like cheesecake or bagels.
While it is high in calories and fat, cream cheese is still a part of an Optavia diet, but, only as a condiment, and should be consumed in moderation.
What is the serving size of cream cheese on Optavia?
- Cream Cheese (Low Fat/Light): 1 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
- Cream Cheese (Low Fat/Light): 2 Tbsp = 1 Healthy Fat
- Cream Cheese (Regular): 1 Tbsp = 1 Healthy Fat
- Cream Cheese (Regular): 1/2 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
6. Cottage Cheese
This is the most popular Optavia diet food option on the 5 and 1 plan (you can have up to 12 oz of cottage cheese per meal).
It is usually white or creamy in color and comes in many varieties like regular cottage cheese, low-fat or reduced-fat cottage cheese, and nonfat.
I always go with the latter.
Cottage cheese has a milder flavor than other types of cheese, and it is often used in Optavia recipes that call for a softer cheese.
There are many delicious ways to add cottage cheese to your Optavia plan, whether thats for your lean and green meals or snack alternatives.
It is also my favorite dairy high protein source for fueling substitutes (I often serve it with pumpkin seeds or vegetables).
One serving of 4 oz. (113 grams) of cottage cheese contains approximately 111 calories and 4.3 grams of fat (4).
What is the serving size of cottage cheese on Optavia?
- Cottage cheese (1% Low Fat): 1 ½ cups (12 oz) + 2 healthy fat servings needed = 1 Leanest
- Cottage cheese (2% Low Fat): 1 ½ cups (12 oz) + 1 healthy fat servings needed = 1 Leaner
Mascarpone cheese is another Italian cheese that is made from cream.
It has a light, creamy texture, and a mildly sweet flavor. It is often used as a spread and can be only consumed during the Optavia weight loss program as a condiment.
One tablespoon of BelGioioso Mascarpone (14 g) of mascarpone cheese contains approximately 60 calories and 6 grams of fat.
However, it should be noted that the fat content in mascarpone cheese is mostly saturated fat. Therefore, it is important to consume this cheese in moderation.
What is the serving size of mascarpone cheese on Optavia?
- 1 Tbsp = 1 Healthy Fat
Brie is a soft cheese that is typically made from cow’s milk.
It originates from the Brie region of France and has a mild, slightly tangy flavor. Brie is typically Intended to be eaten at room temperature, which allows the flavors to fully develop.
Normally, I would serve brie on its own or with crackers or bread. However, on Optavia, it can only be eaten as a condiment to add flavor and zest to your meal.
Brie is relatively high in calories and fat content, but it also contains a good amount of potassium and calcium.
I can tell you from my experience that it’s better to moderate the consumption of brie, as eating too much can lead to weight gain.
What is the serving size of brie cheese on Optavia?
- President Wee Brie: 1 1/2 wedge = 1 Healthy Fat
- Brie cheese (Regular): 1 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
9. Cheddar (reduced-fat)
Cheddar cheese is a type of hard cheese that originates from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset.
It is made from cow’s milk and has a pale yellow to orange color, with a slightly crumbly texture.
You can have cheddar cheese on Optavia, but only as a condiment. It is relatively high in calories and fat content.
One slice (21 grams) has 85.9 calories and 7 grams of fat (6). However, it also contains a good amount of phosphorus and calcium.
I often like to add it to my Optavia mac and cheese, or on top of my grilled salmon lean and green meal.
(This is my second favorite cheese on the 5 and 1 plan.)
What is the serving size of cheddar cheese on Optavia?
- Cheddar cheese (Low-Fat ) shredded: 1 1/2 cup (6 oz) + 1 healthy fat servings needed = 1 Leaner
- Cheddar cheese (Moderate Fat) shredded: 1 cup (4 oz) = 1 Lean (4 cheese sticks)
10. Parmesan (reduced-fat)
Parmesan is my go-to condiment whenever I’m cooking salad or Optavia spaghetti squash (as well as tomato sauce).
This is a hard, granular cheese that is originally from Italy but I think it’s safe to say this is one of the most popular types of cheese in the world.
It is made from cow’s milk and has a strong, nutty flavor. One ounce of Parmesan cheese contains around 122 calories and 8 grams of fat (7).
While Parmesan cheese is high in fat, it is not allowed as the main lean meal on the 5 and 1 plan.
What is the serving size of parmesan cheese on Optavia?
- Parmesan (Reduced-fat): 2 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
- Parmesan (Regular): 1 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
- Parmesan (Dry Grated/Kraft in a jar – Regular): 1 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
While these cheeses are higher in calories and fat content than other types of cheese, they also have a richer flavor that my wife and I enjoy.
Although I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese, we often buy gorgonzola cheese as a substitute for sauces.
In addition, they are relatively low in lactose, so my wife is able to enjoy them without experiencing any digestive issues.
While we don’t eat blue cheese every day, it’s a nice treat that we enjoy on occasion.
Gorgonzola cheese is a soft cheese with a creamy texture and a strong, sharp flavor. The cheese is typically white or pale yellow in color, with streaks of blue or green running through it.
Gorgonzola cheese is high in calories and fat content, but it is also a good source of calcium. I would not recommend eating it on its own. Instead, use it with moderation as an ingredient in recipes.
What is the serving size of blue cheese (gorgonzola) cheese?
- Gorgonzola (Reduced-fat): 2 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
- Gorgonzola (Regular): 1 Tbsp = 1 Condiment
Should I use Optavia’s Cheese List On My Own Optavia Program?
Using the Optavia cheese list as a guide for serving sizes and approved cheese options can be helpful when following the Optavia program on your own. This list includes a variety of cheese options that have been approved for the program based on factors such as calorie count, fat content, and protein content.
By following the cheese list, you can ensure that you are staying within the recommended serving sizes for cheese while still getting the nutrients you need to support your weight loss goals.
In addition to the cheese list, the Optavia program also includes a lean protein list, which can help you choose other sources of protein that are allowed on the program. By combining these two lists, you can create a variety of delicious and satisfying meals that fit within the Optavia program guidelines.
The bottom line
So, is cheese good or bad for you when you’re trying to lose weight with Optavia? The answer is, it depends.
Cheese can be a healthy part of your diet when you’re trying to lose weight as long as you eat the right kind and don’t overdo it.
When I eat cheese, I make sure that I include plenty of other nutrient-rich foods in my diet and watch my portion sizes so that I don’t consume too many calories from cheese.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.