Yogurt can be an amazing tool for a weight loss journey. But when you're navigating the yogurt aisle at your grocery store, you need to know which yogurts will support your goals and which absolutely won't.
Today, I'm sharing the BEST yogurts for weight loss.
Classic yogurt covers a variety of different types of milks ranging from cow to sheep to goats milk. Classic yogurt will be labeled simply as "yogurt" at the grocery store. Yogurt is a fermented milk with active live cultures that has not been strained. Because it hasn't been strained, it will contain less protein and higher carbs than nearly all of the other yogurts on this list. Typically you'll find about 5-8 grams of protein per serving in classic yogurt.
Considering whenever yogurt is used in a recipe, it's typically used as the protein source (think breakfast parfait or chia pudding), this range of 5-8 grams of protein isn't nearly enough to support weight loss and body recomposition goals. Protein is the most important macronutrient for maintaining muscle mass while burning fat as fuel during a weight loss journey.(1) And a shocking number of people aren't even hitting the bare minimum protein requirements.(2)
With this protein factor in mind, classic yogurt isn't the best option for weight loss, but it can certainly be used in recipes as an ingredient when it's not considered the main protein source. For example, marinating chicken in yogurt (this is so yum) or making a tatziki yogurt sauce to pair with grilled meat.
When purchasing classic yogurt, I look for unsweetened/plain - NO vanilla or fruit flavored yogurts. These contain a significant portion of added sugar that work against a weight loss goal. I also opt for full-fat ("whole milk") and preferably grass-fed. Ironically, full fat dairy products are actually inversely associated with obesity, which means it is likely protective against weight gain.(3)
Brands I recommend: Maple Hill, Straus, Stonyfield
Greek yogurt is just regular classic yogurt that has been put through a strainer for 12-18 hours. This straining process concentrates the protein and removes excess lactose and carbohydrates. By the end of the straining process, greek yogurt contains about 2-3x the protein content of classic yogurt and significantly less lactose.
As for a weight loss goal, greek yogurt is one of the best yogurt options to choose due to it's high protein content. Just make sure to only choose unsweetened/plain and full-fat (whole milk).
For additional perks, I also recommend looking for a grass-fed greek yogurt if you can find it. Grass-fed, pasture-raised dairy products have the additional perks of containing vitamin K2. This vitamin helps to get calcium out of the arteries and into the bones. This makes vitamin K2 both heart health and bone health protective.
It can be a bit tricky to find full-fat/whole milk greek yogurt products (let alone grass-fed), which is why I started making my own at home. It's actually *super* simple to make and requires pretty much zero culinary skills. Plus, it saves me about $500 a year by making it at home, so it's a HUGE win, win.
But when buying it at the grocery store, try to at least find a full-fat/whole milk greek yogurt if you can't find grass-fed. And avoid "greek style" yogurts. These tend to not actually be greek yogurts and are much lower in protein than the real deal.
Brands I recommend: Fage 5% (available at nearly every grocery store), Straus, Maple Hill, Stonyfield
Skyr is fairly similar to greek yogurt, as it's also been strained and contains a much higher protein content than classic yogurt. In fact, Skyr tends to have even higher protein than greek yogurt. One brand has around 19 grams of protein per 3/4 cup. That's a HUGE amount!
One caveat is that Skyr uses skim milk, which means you won't be able to find a "full fat" version of it. However, Skyr is a great option if you find that you really struggle with hitting your protein needs and you need a more concentrated protein yogurt.
Protein tip! You can add zero sugar sweetness to your yogurt and boost the protein content by stirring in one scoop of my vanilla or chocolate Pasture-Raised Protein Powder! My protein powder uses 100% monk fruit extract to naturally sweeten your yogurt without adding any sugar. Plus, it stirs in beautifully to your yogurt - no clumps here!
Test out my zero sugar, pasture-raised protein powder HERE.
Brands I recommend: Icelandic Provisions, Siggi's
Most people who choose plant-based yogurts usually do so because they are following a plant-based diet or they don't do well with dairy. I used to believe that I didn't do well with dairy - I thought it caused breakouts/acne and bloating. But you might be surprised to learn that even those who are lactose intolerant tend to have zero issues with yogurt. This is because yogurt is fermented. During the fermentation process, lactose is broken down by bacteria, leaving only very small amounts of lactose in the final product. So if you're avoiding greek yogurt or skyr because you're concerned it won't work for your body, it might be worth testing out again! Just make sure not to pair it with any sugar or refined carbohydrates (ex: honey, maple syrup, crackers, granola, etc.) as these tend to cause similar issues of breakouts/acne and bloating.
BUT with all of that considered, if you do choose to use plant-based yogurts, there are a few things you'll need to navigate.
Let's start with oat milk yogurts like Oatly. When working toward a weight loss goal, I would not advise these yogurts. These are very low in protein (a measly 4 grams per serving) and very high in starches (19 grams) that can spike the storing hormone insulin.
Then there's the "coconut milk" yogurts. Common brands include Cocoyo and Coconut Cult. These are great to use as probiotic supplements, but they aren't great for a yogurt swap. One serving only contains 3 grams of protein.
The best plant-based yogurts are the Greek Style Almond Milk Yogurts. The best brand that I have found is called Kite Hill. Their greek style almond milk yogurt contains a whopping 19 grams of protein from soy protein isolate. Although soy protein isolate isn't as high quality of a protein as those in yogurt, it's still much better than zero protein at all. It also won't contain the beneficial vitamin K2 that's in grass-fed dairy products. But if you're opting for a plant-based yogurt to use as the base of one of your meals, opt for unsweetened Greek Style Almond Milk Yogurt.
Brands I recommend: Kite Hill Greek Yogurt
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Autumn Elle Nutrition