Although yogurt contains carbohydrates, which is a downside on the keto diet, it can offer general health benefits such as stronger bones and lower inflammation.
Yogurt is a go-to breakfast (and snack!) staple. And while yogurt bowls may provide an opportunity to get in some good-for-you foods, such as fruit and nuts, they’re also a base for higher-carb toppings, such as granola. Here’s what you need to know about yogurt if you’re on a keto diet or are interested in another low-carb diet.
Yogurt has carbohydrates because it contains lactose, a type of sugar found in milk, as research notes.
One look at the dairy case and you’ll see that there are many varieties of yogurt (such as traditional, Greek, Skyr), made with different milks (cow, nondairy), fat content (whole, 2 percent, nonfat), and flavors (plain, fruit, dessert). The amount of lactose varies by yogurt type as well.
The following is the nutrition for a 6-ounce container of plain, whole-milk yogurt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
Net carbs is a measurement determined by total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols, according to Atkins. Net carbs provides a rough estimate of the amount of carbohydrates that are digested and thus affect blood sugar. (Some fiber and sugar alcohols are partially digested, too, per the American Diabetes Association.)
Net carbs isn't an official macronutrient (like carbs, fat, and protein) with a legal definition by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but people following a keto diet often use this number as a guide to help them stay in their carb range.
Because plain yogurt contains neither fiber nor sugar alcohols, the net carbs are the same as total carbs.
Yogurt provides the bone-building minerals calcium and phosphorus, and dairy-based yogurts offer B vitamins such as riboflavin, according to Harvard Health. Riboflavin helps metabolize food into energy, and another B vitamin, B12, is necessary for maintaining energy, as the National Institutes of Health points out.
Yes. But because the lactose in milk will break down into sugar that will go into your bloodstream, “if you’re going to eat yogurt, it will have to be somewhat minimized in your diet,” says Scott Keatley, RDN, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy in New York City.
Read the nutrition label on your yogurt and determine what portion will fit into your carbohydrate limit. Also important is to spread out your carbs throughout the day to stay in ketosis, he says. So also make sure that any yogurt toppings are not high in carbs, like traditional grain-based granola.
So, what kind of yogurt can I eat on keto? Go for plain, whole-milk yogurt, says Diana Rodgers, RD, of Sustainable Dish in Concord, Massachusetts. She recommends it with “a handful of berries and nuts as a snack or dessert.”
When it comes to other types of yogurt, you may ask is Greek yogurt okay on keto? The answer is yes, especially if you need a higher source of protein. Be sure to choose plain Greek yogurt. This type of yogurt is slightly lower in carbs (7 g per 6-oz container), has more fat, and packs more than double the protein (15 g), per the USDA.
Yes. A large amount of research suggests that yogurt delivers health benefits. One review of more than 100 studies spanning almost 40 years suggests consuming “fermented milk products,” which includes yogurt, is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and type 2 diabetes; healthier weights; and better heart, bone, and GI health. The fermentation creates health-promoting compounds that may help reduce blood pressure, enhance the immune system, and act as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent, says research.
When you need inspiration for how to incorporate yogurt in delicious and keto-friendly ways, check out these recipes:
Yogurt can fit into a keto diet, but watch your portion size, read labels to make sure you’re getting a plain, unflavored version, and add lower-carb toppings, such as berries and nuts or seeds.
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