Not all yogurts are created equal.
In recent years, yogurt has been rising in popularity due to its perceived health benefits. Maybe you’ve heard all your friends raving about how yogurt is the key to magically losing weight. In some respects, they’re right. Some types of yogurts have nearly magical characteristics. However, it’s worth noting that not all yogurts are equal. Today, we’re going to talk about how to find the best yogurt for your diet.
What Is Yogurt?
Before anything else, let’s take a step back and talk about what exactly is yogurt. Put simply, yogurt is a mixture of dairy products (most commonly milk) combined with an active culture, also known as healthy bacteria.
You may have read the scientific name of the healthy bacteria on the label of your yogurt: Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Types of Yogurt
Alright, we’ve made things clear regarding the ingredients required in making yogurt. Now, you may be asking yourself, “what’s the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt?”
Right off the bat, I have to mention that if you don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it, you’re probably better off choosing Greek yogurt over regular yogurt. Let’s talk about why.
Greek yogurt is typically strained three times, meaning most of the liquid in the mixture is removed. This accounts for why Greek yogurt has a thicker consistency than regular yogurt. What’s left in the mixture is concentrated yogurt, which is why Greek yogurt also has a higher amount of protein than plain yogurt.
A higher protein count isn’t the only advantage that Greek yogurt has. Due to the same straining process, more lactose from the yogurt is removed. This lactose accounts for the fat in Greek yogurt, making Greek yogurts quite low in carbs.
In the previous section, we’ve discussed the two main types of yogurts: plain yogurt and Greek yogurt. Like most other foods, these yogurt types come in various varieties. The first subtype we are going to discuss is full-fat.
The first thing you need to know about full-fat yogurt is that it exists for both plain and Greek varieties. A serving of plain full-fat yogurt contains about 8 grams of fat, 5 of which are saturated. On the other hand, a serving of Greek full-fat yogurt contains approximately 10 grams of fat, 7 of which being saturated. Here are a few key advantages of full-fat over no-fat yogurts:
- Full-fat keeps you satiated for longer periods.
- Full-fat yogurt improves bone health.
- Full-fat yogurt boosts your metabolism.
- Full-fat yogurt is better at improving bacterial balance in the gut.
- Full-fat yogurt can improve one’s mental health, due to the chemicals in the brain that are released upon consumption.
- Full-fat yogurt contains more protein, thus promoting more muscle building.
- Full-fat yogurt may lower blood pressure.
In the end, the choice of whether you pick plain full-fat yogurt or Greek full-fat yogurt highly depends on your diet and nutritional goals. With that said, let’s take a look at a couple of the best full-fat yogurt brands.
- Fage Total. Fage Total is a great choice for full-fat yogurt because it packs the protein without the sugar. Compared to similar brands, Fage Total made it a point to pack in double the protein for far less sugar, all contained within the same amount of calories.
- Maple Hill Creamery, Plain. The unique thing about Maple Hill is that they only manufacture full-fat yogurts with organic milk from grass-fed cows. When animals eat what they’re supposed to eat, as grass-fed cows do, that translates into healthier fats in their dairy products.
For those of you following low-carb diets, we’ve got a few options for you. But before that, let’s get into why one might want to stick to a low-carb diet. Check out some of the reasons below.
- Your body learns how to burn calories faster. By reducing your carb intake, your body shifts your energy source to fat, rather than carbs.
- Your energy levels increase. “Food comas” are typically caused by too many carbs. By reducing carbs, you’ll find that you’ll feel less lethargic and full of energy.
- You become less hungry. Once you shift the focus away from carbs, you’ll find that you naturally end up consuming more protein. Protein can keep you satiated for hours and hours.
- You feel less bloated. Carbs increase water retention. By cutting out carbs from your diet, you’ll likely feel less bloated.
- You no longer need to count calories. You no longer need to track your macronutrients and calories. All you need to do is make sure you minimize carb intake.
- You can eat out! Related to the last point, there’s no need for you to stay home and measure precisely what to eat. Just make sure that when you go out, you order a low-carb dish.
- You can diet sustainably. Following a low-carb diet is relatively easy. You can still treat yourself with delicious low-carb dishes.
Now that we understand the benefits of following a low-carb diet, here are some of the best low-carb Greek yogurt and low-carb plain yogurt brands.
- Siggi’s 4% Icelandic Style Yogurt. Siggi’s is a skyr-style yogurt. This means that it has a thick consistency, has a higher protein content, and has an extra-tangy flavor. It contains an extra low carb content, as well.
- Two Good Greek Yogurt. Two Good’s yogurt was specifically designed to be low in sugar and carbohydrate content. If you’re looking to keep carbs down and protein up, this is a good choice for you.
- Maple Hill Creamery Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. Like Maple Hill’s full-fat yogurt, their low-carb yogurts are also made with milk from grass-fed cows and contain no added sugar.
Keto, short for ketogenic, is one of the biggest diets today. Keto is similar to low-carb diets but also emphasizes consuming high amounts of fat each day. This essentially puts your body in a metabolic state, called ketosis, causing you to burn calories faster.
Before anything else, let’s answer a question you probably asked yourself: “Can I eat yogurt on a ketogenic diet?” The answer is yes! There’s nothing wrong with eating yogurt as long as it’s the right kind and the right serving size. In general, most ketogenic diets prescribe 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day. That isn’t a lot, so it’s probably best to stick with low-carb yogurts.
If you’re new to incorporating yogurt into keto or you’re new to the ketogenic diet altogether, it may be difficult to get started. Here are some guidelines to help you out:
- Buy whole-fat yogurt.
- Avoid additives. Keep it natural.
- Choose non-flavored yogurt.
- Limit your serving sizes.
- Choose yogurts that contain active micro bacterial cultures.
- Choose yogurt brands that fit well specifically with your daily macronutrient needs.
If you’re committed to the ketogenic diet but still want to enjoy some sweet-tasting yogurt, here are the best keto yogurt brands to help you get started.
- YQ Plain Yogurt. YQ yogurt is subjected to a hyper-filtering process aimed to remove as many carbs as possible. It contains 17 grams of protein and just 1 gram of fat. That’s right, just 1 gram! It can easily fit into your carbohydrate allocation for the day.
- Peak Yogurt Plain. Peak is another one of our favorite yogurt brands. Keep in mind that with a ketogenic diet, our goal is not only to keep our carbohydrate intake low. We’re also trying to maximize our healthy fat intake, to enter the state of ketosis. Peak Yogurt Plain does just that. Each serving has up to 17% milkfat. Specifically, the macronutrients are 24g fat, 4g carbs, 8g protein. It’s one of the best whole-milk yogurt brands out there.
- Chobani Full-fat Plain Greek. Last on our list is Chobani Full-fat Plain Greek. Chobani is one of the most popular yogurt brands in the market, and with good reason. I’m willing to bet you can find this at your local supermarket. With 9g fat, 7g carbs, and 16g protein, Chobani is a great staple to keep in mind.
We’ve been discussing our top picks of yogurt for various diets. However, you may still be asking yourself what the ideal serving size for yogurt is. Let’s tackle that in this section.
In general, most foods follow a set serving size as prescribed by the FDA. However, yogurts work a little bit differently. Due to the various types of yogurt packaging, a single serving of yogurt varies from brand to brand.
For larger tubs of yogurt, you’ll likely see a serving size listed as one cup. This is roughly 8 ounces. Depending on the type of yogurt you buy, calorie content may vary from tub to tub. This is due to the varying content of fat in yogurt. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the higher the fat content in a tub of yogurt, the higher its calorie content is. If you’re looking to keep your calories in check, make sure to go with low-fat or no-fat varieties of yogurt.
If you’re looking to buy yogurt in single-serve containers, keep in mind that these typically come in servings of 6 to 8 ounces. Although smaller than the standard serving size, these containers often come close to the number of calories in larger containers, ranging anywhere from 70 to nearly 200 calories per serving. Similar to larger tubs, the fat content of the yogurt highly affects the overall calorie content.
In closing, we’d like to clarify a point of contention. Yogurt serving size is not synonymous to portion size, so it’s important to note how much you’re consuming. This is especially important when it comes to the consumption of the larger tubs of yogurt. With the single-serve cups, you know exactly how much you’re eating. With the larger tubs, you won’t know unless you eat the entire tub in one sitting, which is far from advisable. If you’re trying to lose weight, consider measuring the portion of yogurt that you put in your bowl before consuming it.