Yogurt is kinda like beef jerky. Sometimes it's good for you, sometimes it's not, and it's hard to know what kind to eat.
The information out there just isn't clear. Ingredients 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!
Welp. Now you can settle your doubts once and for all. We're going to cover exactly what you need to know about your keto yogurt options.
Specifically, we'll look into:
- What yogurt is
- What kinds of yogurt you can eat on keto
- Best practices for choosing keto yogurt
- The benefits of adding yogurt to your keto diet
- Our favorite keto yogurt brands
What is yogurt?
Sometimes with food and drinks, things are just way easier to make than you imagine.
It's how I felt when I first learned that you can make homemade whipped cream by pouring heavy whipping cream in a bowl and mixing it with a KitchenAid or make homemade mayo by furiously swirling oil and egg yolk.
Yogurt falls right in line with those examples.
Yogurt is simply milk or other combinations of dairy products combined with an active culture (aka hungry, friendly bacteria).
Leave that bacteria a few hours to eat up all the tasty sugars (lactose) and convert 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 really quite simple.
Then 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.
Can you eat yogurt on keto?
The short answer: Absolutely, as long as it's the right kind and the right serving size.
Here's the deal. Keto usually suggests eating between 20-50g of carbs per day. That's not a lot of room to work with, so if you're going to eat yogurt you want to opt for the lower-carb options.
That may seem obvious, but there's still more choice than you may think.
Best practices for choosing 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.
Most of us like to add things to our yogurt, so if you're going to add fruit, add berries. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all pretty low carb!
What are the nutritional benefits of eating yogurt?
According to the USDA, a typical 6oz serving of yogurt has this carb count (keep in mind these vary slightly by brand):
- Whole milk Greek yogurt: 7.5 grams of carbohydrate
- Whole milk yogurt: 7.92 grams of carbohydrate
- Low-fat yogurt: 11.97 grams of carbohydrate
- Nonfat or skim milk yogurt: 13.06 grams of carbohydrate
And even more good news:
As a general rule of thumb, you can cut about half the carbs out of any yogurt nutritional label.
Why? Because companies are required by the FDA to list the nutrient values of the product before the cooking process. In yogurt's case, the cooking is actually the fermentation process when the active cultures eat the lactose, which ends up reducing the overall carbohydrates found within the yogurt.
That's great news if you've been running scared from yogurt labels!
And the benefits don’t stop there:
Yogurt is a good source of protein
Protein is one of the three macronutrients and is used to build muscles and cells in your body. Yogurt, especially greek yogurt, can be super high in protein and leave you full for hours.
The bacteria found in yogurt promotes a healthy gut
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.
Yogurt is high in vitamins and minerals
Yogurt has both vitamin B and D. Vitamin B is good for heart disease and D vitamins are great for strong bones and can prevent a variety of terrible diseases! It also has a lot of minerals like magnesium and potassium which can help with blood pressure and/or metabolism.
Other tips for winning at your keto yogurt choices
Don't be afraid to modify your yogurt if need be
If you've found a yogurt brand you love that is super low in carb but also way too low in fat to support a keto diet, you can always add MCT oil or heavy cream to supplement your yogurt. It may not taste quite as good, but you can rest assured you're staying on track.
Don't be afraid to make your own!
Making your own yogurt is probably easier than you think as well and can give you even more customization flexibility.
And if you're going down that route make sure to keep this keto hack we saw from Women’s Health Mag in mind:
A common keto hack for yogurt is to make keto yogurt by mixing one part tangy sour cream—Wallaby Organic European Cultured is my fave—with one part heavy cream. This combination will have less carbs and higher in fat than traditional yogurt.
Our favorite keto yogurt brands
There are of course more than these, but here are a few of our favorite keto-friendly yogurt brands with their typical serving size nutrients!
Peak Yogurt Plain
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."
Per serving: 270 calories, 24g fat, 4g net carbs, 8g protein
YQ Plain Yogurt
YQ yogurt is hyper filtered to remove almost all the carbs. With 17g protein and 1g of carbs, this is a great option for keto dieters.
Per serving: 100 calories, 3g fat, 2g net carbs, 17g protein
Chobani Full Fat Plain Greek
Found in almost all superstores, Chobani's whole milk plain greek yogurt is a great staple to have in mind.
Per serving: 170 calories, 9g fat, 7g net carbs, 16g protein
So there you have it. We hope this helps you with your keto yogurt adventures!