Mozzarella cheese, a stretchy cheese commonly used for pizza and Italian dishes, is the most popular cheese in America, according to information from the USDA's Economic Research Service from 2005. When losing weight, eating a high-calorie food like mozzarella cheese may cause you to have problems successfully losing weight. Before adding the cheese to your pizza or pasta dish, consider how the calories and nutrients will affect your weight loss efforts.
Eating mozzarella cheese gives you a portion of your dairy requirement, as do other cheeses, milk and yogurt. You need 3 cups of dairy a day, whether you are maintaining or losing weight. Cheese makers begin the process of making mozzarella cheese with either goat, cow or water buffalo milk. The milk, rennet, citric acid and salt combine together to make the cheese in a complex process that takes several hours. The type of milk used -- either skim, part-skim or whole milk plays a role in the caloric and fat content in the mozzarella cheese. The more fat the milk contains, the more the cheese calories can affect your weight loss.
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Calcium and Carbohydrates
Mozzarella cheese is a low carbohydrate food, which can help you lose weight if you are following a diet that recommends eating a high protein diet such as the Atkins or South Beach diet. An ounce of part-skim mozzarella cheese contains just .79 g of carbohydrates. The cheese is high in calcium, with 1 oz. containing 222 mg of calcium. Calcium helps your muscles, teeth strength, bone density and heart function, according to the National Institutes of Health. Eating higher quantities of calcium benefited participants in a weight loss study published in the May 2004 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," which indicated that eating more than three servings of milk or dairy products each day may help reduce body fat.
Part-skim mozzarella cheese has 72 calories per ounce, while whole milk mozzarella contains 85 calories in an ounce. The part-skim has 56 percent of its calories from fat, and whole milk mozzarella has 67 percent of its calories from fat. Both types of cheese have over half their fat from unhealthier saturated fats. The cheese contains less than 1 g of sugar, a trace of iron and about 175 mg of sodium per ounce. If you use 1/2 cup of cheese in a recipe, and eat half the recipe you will consume over 300 calories, and 711 mg of sodium. Eating too much sodium from foods such as mozzarella cheese may add to water retention, making weight loss more difficult.
While mozzarella cheese has nutritional benefits, if you are counting calories while losing weight, eating 2 oz. of mozzarella cheese each day adds over 150 calories, or 9.4 percent of your 1,600 calorie diet. Choose reduced-fat mozzarella cheese over whole, measure the cheese before adding it to foods and make adjustments in your other food choices throughout the day to allow for the calories from the mozzarella cheese. Additionally, the high amount of saturated fat in mozzarella cheese can lead to heart disease or obesity, if consumed too frequently.
- USDA Economic Research Service; Amber Waves; Cheese Consumption Continues to Rise; February 2005
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Part-Skim and Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese
- National Institutes of Health: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Low-Carb Diets: The Right Way to Go?; Ellen Loreck, RD; April 2007
- “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”; Role of Calcium and Dairy Products in Energy Partitioning and Weight Management; Michael B. Zemel; May 2004
- American Heart Association; Obesity Information; May 2011