Yogurt is kinda like beef jerky. Sometimes it's good for you, sometimes it's not, and it can be hard to know which brands are okay to eat.
Ingredient lists can be confusing or just plain misleading, and with so many brands, flavors, and types, it's difficult to navigate the yogurt world — especially when you're on a diet like keto!
Well, now you can settle your doubts once and for all as we're going to cover exactly what you need to know about your keto yogurt options.
What is yogurt?
Yogurt is simply milk or other combinations of dairy products combined with an active culture (aka hungry, friendly bacteria).
Combine and leave the milk and bacteria alone for a few hours so the bacteria eats up all the tasty sugars (lactose) and converts that lactose sugar into lactic acid, and you've got yogurt.
Seriously. It's that easy.
There's obviously nuance in the process and choice of ingredients, but the fundamentals are pretty straightforward.
What's the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt?
Greek yogurt is just strained three times, so most of the liquid (whey) remaining in the mixture of milk and bacteria is removed, which is what makes Greek yogurt so thick. It's basically just concentrated yogurt, which is why Greek yogurt products are higher in protein.
Greek yogurts can also be lower in carbs because when draining the liquid whey, they also remove more of the lactose (the source of carbs) found within yogurt.
Okay! Now let's talk keto.
According to the USDA, a typical 6oz serving (170g) of plain, unflavored yogurt has the following carb count (keep in mind these vary slightly by brand):
- Full-fat Greek yogurt: 6.77 grams
- Low-fat Greek yogurt: 6.70 grams
- Non-fat Greek yogurt: 6.19 grams
- Full-fat regular yogurt: 7.92 grams
- Low-fat regular yogurt: 12.00 grams
- Non-fat regular Yogurt: 13.10 grams
Yogurt is generally considered a high-fat, high-protein snack. Protein is one of the three macronutrients and is used to build muscles and cells in your body, and yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is high in protein that generally decreases appetite and helps you feel full — making it great for diets like keto.
Yogurt also contains both Vitamin B and D and a lot of minerals like magnesium and potassium[*]. Vitamin B is good for heart disease and D vitamins are great for strong bones and can prevent a variety of terrible diseases! Magnesium and potassium help with blood pressure and/or metabolism.
And since yogurt is a fermented food similar to kombucha, sauerkraut, or kimchi, it contains a lot of healthy bacteria that are great for balancing out the bad and good bacteria in your gut and contains probiotics well-known to help general digestive health.
Can you eat yogurt on keto?
Yes — as long as you stick to plain, lower-carb varieties and keep an eye on your daily carb count. Yogurt, especially Greek, is considered a healthy and high-protein food that contains a moderate number of carbs, making it something you can add to your keto diet in moderation.
Keto usually suggests eating between 20-50g of carbs per day. That's not a lot of room to work with, so that's why if you're going to eat yogurt on keto, you'll want to opt for the lower-carb options.
That may seem obvious, but there's still more choice than you may think, including yogurts that use alternative milks like coconut milk. Ketoers love coconut milk yogurt because it's also fairly low-carb. For example, So Delicious Coconutmilk Yogurt has 7g net carbs per 170g container. The downside is coconut milk tastes noticeably different than regular dairy.
Other dairy-free options include cashew milk, oat milk, and soy, but make sure to check the nutrition label because the carb counts can vary widely by type.
Best keto yogurt brands
Here are a few of our favorite keto-friendly yogurt brands with their typical serving size nutrients.
1. Peak Triple Cream Plain Yogurt
According to Vox, "Peak, a Portland, Oregon-based keto yogurt brand, has gone one step further, producing a vanilla yogurt with 16 percent fat and a plain variety with 17 percent."
In other words, this is as creamy and fatty as you can get with yogurt, making it ideal for high-fat, low-carb diets like keto.
Per serving: 270 calories, 24g fat, 4g net carbs, 8g protein
2. Siggi's Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
I'm a big fan of this yogurt. It has a great balance of carbs to protein and is the perfect base for sprucing it up anyway you want. You can easily add some cinnamon, seeds, and low-carb sweeteners to round this out, too!
Per serving: 170 calories, 7g fat, 8g net carbs, 18g protein
3. YQ by Yoplait Plain Yogurt
YQ yogurt is hyper filtered to remove almost all the carbs and is just packed with protein. 17g of protein and 2g of carbs? Counts like that make YQ perfect for hitting your macros and staying in ketosis.
Per serving: 100 calories, 3g fat, 2g net carbs, 17g protein
4. Chobani Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt
Found in almost all superstores, Chobani's whole milk plain Greek yogurt is a great staple to have in mind when on keto. It's a little pricier than some of the other supermarket options, but I love the taste and texture of this yogurt.
Per serving: 170 calories, 9g fat, 7g net carbs, 16g protein
5. Forager Plain Cashewmilk Yogurt
For a dairy-free option, give Forager's cashewmilk yogurt a shot. You won't get nearly as much protein as you do from the whole milk options, but it will still get you that creamy fix we all need when running a keto diet.
Per serving: 100 calories, 7g fat, 8g net carbs, 3g protein
6. So Delicious Plain Coconutmilk Yogurt
Like we talked about above, coconut milk yogurt is another good keto-friendly option. Even more so if you are lactose intolerant! You can put any of the same keto yogurt toppings you love on this and it will still taste great.
Per serving: 90 calories, 6g fat, 7g net carbs, <1g protein
Best practices for choosing and eating keto yogurt
The best advice I can give you is to choose whole, unflavored Greek yogurt.
Why? Apart from the straining process that occurs in Greek yogurt production that we covered above, Greek yogurt is less likely to have milk powder or other additives than low-fat or nonfat alternatives.
Here are some other guidelines to follow:
- Keep it natural.
- Keep it whole fat.
- Keep it plain (even “naturally sweetened” yogurts containing real fruit have the carbohydrate called fructose).
- Keep your serving sizes small.
- Choose yogurts with active cultures since those friendly bacteria will have had even more time to consume the lactose (sugars/carbs).
- Cater your yogurt to your macro goals. If you always have too much protein and not enough fat, find a yogurt type that fits that need and vice versa.
- If you're going to add fruit, add berries. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all pretty low carb.
- Add stevia or other low-carb sweetener for some extra sweetness.
- Add more fat, if needed (MCT oil and heavy cream are great options).
- When in doubt, make your own! Here's a great recipe to get you started.
The bottom line
You can absolutely eat yogurt while on keto, but you should stick to whole fat, plain varieties.
Low-fat and flavored varieties tend to include extra sugar and carbs, so if you want to spruce your yogurt up it's better to make your own adjustments with other ingredients instead of relying on the product to do that for you.
With the exception of dairy-free varieties, yogurt also has a good balance of protein and fat, making it a good snack for keeping you full while on keto.