Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that is enjoyed worldwide as a creamy breakfast or snack (1). What used to be one of the unhealthiest breakfast foods to start your day with has now turned into one of the healthiest options for weight loss (2).
In the past, it’s hard to come across a small carton of yogurt with less than 20 grams of sugar, today there are several low-sugar varieties to choose from (more on this later) (2).
Apart from its low sugar content, yogurt is also deemed as a perfect food for weight loss thanks to its high protein, satiating fats, and beneficial micronutrients (2). Other than that, yogurt is also associated with bone health and digestive benefits (1).
With the assertion that yogurt helps in shedding weight, it is common for many diets to center around this weight loss food (1). According to a study, adding yogurt to your diet can boost your body’s fat-burning process, speed up weight loss, and trim your belly (3).
Thanks to its metabolism-reviving protein and gut-healthy probiotics, yogurts are one of the best weight loss foods around. If you are looking for a low-fat, full-fat, or sippable variant, this guide can help you find the best weight loss yogurts for weight loss (4).
Make sure, however, that you keep an eye out for any sugar or artificial ingredient added to your yogurt pots and bottles. Despite each brand’s marketing efforts to broadcast their products as healthy, these yogurts contribute to weight gain (4).
Not all yogurt is good for weight loss since many of them are loaded with added sugars. Although its refreshing flavors make yogurt one of the most favorite dairy products in the market, it is only healthy if you choose the right kinds (5)(6).
That said, we’ll kickstart this article with some of the best yogurts for shedding those extra pounds.
Best Nutritionist-Approved Yogurts for Weight Loss
According to dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, part of the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living, yogurt can help you lose weight; however, some yogurts work better than others (4).
When choosing the best brands for weight-loss yogurt, make sure that they meet the following criteria (4):
- Low in fat: While it is true that fat can help you feel fuller, it does come with extra calories. In addition to this, Miller suggests that opting for low-fat or non-fat yogurts can help you control your calorie intake for weight loss (4).
- Sugar-free or with no added sugars: According to dietitian Sarah Marjoram, MS, RDN, LD, lactose in dairy is a natural form of sugar. Some sugar is fine, but make sure that you don’t add a lot of sugar on top of that. The healthiest yogurt is always that with no added sugar (4).
- Look for high-protein yogurts: Miller points out that protein helps you stay full for several hours, so getting enough protein can prevent early hunger, which is good for someone who is really trying to control their calories. Yogurt, in general, is a great source of protein, while Greek yogurt varieties contain twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt, which helps you feel full and satisfied (4).
Based on these criteria, the following are the best yogurts for weight loss.
1. Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt
Unlike what its name implies, this yogurt is not technically a sugar-free yogurt because of the fact that dairy naturally contains sugars. Instead, Fage Total has no sugar added. It contains the purest ingredients, which are milk, cream, and cultures.
Concerning the brand, Miller says, “”I love Fage Total 0% nonfat, plain Greek yogurt. It is thick, creamy and is so versatile. I always recommend using Fage yogurt in smoothies, as a sour cream replacement, dips, cooking, baking, as your dessert, etc. Since it is unflavored, you can add your own toppings (sweet or savory) (4)(5).”
2. Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Greek Yogurt, Plain
This plain, thick, and delicious Greek yogurt is made with organic non-fat milk and live active cultures. Unlike conventional cows, organically-raised cows are not exposed to the hormones or antibiotics present in them which can get transmitted to you. If you choose this, couple the yogurt with fresh fruit, raw nuts, and tasty weight loss teas for a complete and healthy breakfast (4)(5).
3. Light & Fit Two Good Greek Low-Fat Yogurt, Vanilla
This is another nearly sugar-free. Two Good’s unique slow-straining process also removes the naturally-occurring lactose in the fermented milk. Thus, it renders a very low-sugar cup given its 2 grams of sugar. Thus Greek yogurt is delicious and packed with high protein and less than 100 calories. Plus, a touch of stevia is added to enhance its flavors (4)(5).
4. Maple Hill Creamery Plain Greek Yogurt
Maple Hill Creamery’s yogurts are made from two ingredients: grass-fed milk and live cultures. Although its milk variant might be reflected in its high price, it’s worth the extra cost (4)(5).
According to registered dietitian Stephanie Middleberg, grass-fed yogurt contains more omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids, which both prevents heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. These benefits make grass-fed milk the healthiest yogurt. Maple Hill Greek yogurt is rich, creamy, and comes with a unique taste (4)(5).
5. Chonabi Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
Chonabi’s Plain Greek yogurt is one of the healthiest yogurts with its low sugar content and plentiful satiating protein. This non-fat snack is packed with 15 percent of your daily value of bone-building calcium. In addition, its container is reusable, making it ideal to keep around the house (4)(5).
It is important to note that when choosing the best yogurt for weight loss, plain flavor is always the best since it has fewer extra ingredients and no added sweeteners. If you do prefer a little sweetness, you can go for vanilla flavored-yogurts for the same content (5).
Nonetheless, here are other important features to look for in a weight loss yogurt.
- Look for yogurt – specifically Greek yogurt – that is higher in protein (at least 10 grams per serving) and healthy fat, yet is low in sugar (not higher than 6 grams) and with fewer ingredients (especially those without extra fillers, artificial sweeteners, and sugars) (5).
- As per recent studies, dairy that is high in fatty acids – which are found in full-fat dairy – helps control hunger and shifts the metabolism in healthy ways (5).
- As mentioned, when it comes to flavors, plain is always best since it is unsweetened. It’s because the creaminess and luxurious texture and flavor alone provides enough satisfaction. Still, you can add some fresh berries or small amounts of other fresh fruits (5).
- For an added crunch or flavor, you can add sweetened almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or even 80 percent or higher dark chocolate (5).
- Avoid any flavors such as chocolate, cookies, or those with fruits at the bottom. This is because the fruit that comes in yogurt cups is usually canned or covered in sugary syrup or preservatives (5).
- Keep an eye out for sugar. Make sure that sugar is only below 6 grams; otherwise, your weight loss is slowed down (5).
- If you can afford it, go for spring or grass-fed variants (even at least once in a while) as they are high in omega 3s.
Weight Loss Benefits of Yogurt
Now, we move on to the many benefits of yogurts in weight loss. Below, are some ways and claims on how this weight-loss food can help you lose fat.
1. High in Calcium
Your daily yogurt is considered an excellent source of calcium. One cup (or 245 grams) of this weight loss food provides approximately 23 percent of the Daily Value (DV) (1).
According to Eric R. Braverman, MD, bestselling author of Younger You and Younger (Thinner) You Diet (7), the key to weight loss is eating more, not eating less. Apart from focusing on the quantity, you also have to ensure quality – and one of the most important food groups to give you the much needed source of protein are food that are high in calcium (8)
Calcium is known as an essential mineral in bone health, but it also has been studied for its weight loss benefits. Test tube studies reveal that higher blood levels of calcium can lead to reduced fat cell growth. Similarly, animal studies have also connected calcium supplements to significant reductions in body weight and fat mass (1).
On one hand, the effect of calcium on weight loss for humans is mixed. Results of a study conducted for 4,733 people revealed calcium supplements are linked to significantly less weight gain over time across children, adolescents, adult men, premenopausal women, and adults with a normally healthy body mass index (BMI) (1).
However, the overall effect of the supplements was found to be quite small – with those who took calcium gaining an average of 2.2 pounds (or 1kg) less than those who took the supplements (1).
However, Researchers at the University of Knoxville have found that dietary calcium can directly influence your weight loss efforts. The results showed that high-calcium foods – particularly dairy sources like yogurt – increases body fat breakdown and preserve metabolism during dieting. Overall, the study suggests eating three servings of dairy products daily to get the most benefit (8).
Moreover, increasing your calcium intake can also directly reduce belly fat. A study at the Obesity Society Meeting of 2007 showed significant abdominal fat reduction with calcium supplementation. During the seven-week study, the participants consumed 3 to 4 servings of dairy foods every day. After which, the results showed that an exercise program coupled with a reduced calorie diet and an increased calcium consumption changed metabolism significantly enough for fat burning (8).
Other studies suggest that dietary or supplementary calcium can aid in weight and fat loss in children, post-menopausal women with obesity, and men with type 2 diabetes. Still, several more studies fail to show a significant link between calcium intake and weight loss. Thus, more research is needed for yogurt’s calcium content (1).
2. Packed With Protein
Yogurt is a low-fat food that is enriched with calcium and protein. It offers all the benefits of dairy without the added fat or calories, but it contains more calcium and protein for each serving than other dairy products because of the process of making it (8).
When it comes to weight loss, protein and calcium-enriched foods seem to be the best clinically-proven combination to boost metabolic rate and improve digestion and bowel health (8).
Protein is essential to feel full and satisfied throughout the day; it allows you to avoid binge-eating on easy-to-eat carbs that you may crave. Protein is also necessary to receive energy that you need for an exercise program – where you’ll burn several calories (8).
Yogurt’s protein content aids in weight loss in several ways. Among these are:
- Regulating hunger hormones: A high protein intake has been found to increase the levels of several appetite-reducing hormones. It also reduces levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin (1).
- Keeping you feeling full: The main premise is that increasing your protein intake has been linked to increasing feelings of fullness and satisfaction. A high protein diet may naturally encourage you to consume less calories throughout the day (1).
- Boosting your metabolism: A high protein diet helps you burn more calories throughout the day (1).
- Helping preserve muscle during weight loss: A high protein diet can promote fat loss, especially when combined with resistance exercises (1).
A cup (245 grams) of yogurt has around 8 grams of protein (for regular yogurt) to 22 grams (for Greek yogurt) (1).
Researchers say that the secret ingredient to a satisfying snack is protein. That said, yogurt may be the ultimate between-meal snack. A study in the journal Nutrition found that women who indulge in a high-protein snack with yogurt in the afternoon reported feelings of satiety. These snackers consumed 100 less calories at dinner, compared to those who were given chocolate or crackers. Moreover, research suggests that the higher the protein content of yogurt, the greater is its influence on appetite control. So, to have two to three times more protein than the average, opt for Greek or Icelandic varieties (2).
3. Enriched With Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut growth – and yogurt happens to be a good source of it. Although research is limited, early studies suggest that probiotics, especially those containing Lactobacillus bacteria (which is common in yogurt) can help you lose weight and belly fat (1).
Apart from Lactobacillus, the unpasteurized variants of yogurt possess a high concentration of good bacteria that is specifically known as Bifidobacteria, which is also known to improve your gut health (6).
A 43-day study in 28 overweight adults found that consuming 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of yogurt with Lactobacillus amylovorus each day resulted in significant reductions in body fat compared to yogurt without probiotics (1).
Bad stomach health and poor digestion are both linked to weight gain and the difficulty in losing weight. So, when you are improving your digestion, and countering the possible symptoms of an upset stomach, these properties of yogurt can improve digestion and promote weight (6).
4. Helps With Inflammation
Eating yogurt can support your immune system, reducing your overall inflammation and also lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol (8).
A lot of people find that dairy is positively correlated with inflammatory responses or processes, but it’s different with Greek yogurt. Research proves that this type of yogurt has the probiotic strains known as Lactobacillus, which actually promotes the formation of a desirable anti-inflammatory environment in the blood system.
The effects of probiotics may be due to the body working against potentially pathogenic or pro-inflammatory endogenous microbiota in the digestive system. That said, a healthy tummy corresponds to a healthy body (9).
Moreover, a lot of adults have problems digesting milk products because their bodies do not produce enough of the enzyme called lactase. Fortunately, yogurt contains lactase, which makes it a healthy and delicious alternative for those who are lactose intolerant (8).
5. Boosts Weight Loss Efforts
If you happen to know someone, or have a friend, who keeps up with a healthy diet, there’s a good chance that you might see some yogurt in their fridge. That’s right! Compared to those who don’t consume this weight loss food, people who do eat at least one serving of low-fat yogurt daily tend to weigh less, have smaller waist circumference, and adhere to healthier diets, as per a recent study (2).
These individuals have also been found to have lower levels of LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin resistance. Study authors mentioned that the micronutrients in yogurt – calcium, potassium, B vitamins, and magnesium – help improve diet quality and maintain a strong metabolism (2).
Moreover, vitamin D plays a huge role in boosting weight loss by allowing you to gradually increase your weight loss goal. As suggested in a study, this is especially helpful when you are low in the sunshine vitamin, as yogurt enhances the effects of a reduced-calorie diet (2).
Thus, a dieter who was supplemented with vitamin D lost nearly three times as much weight as a group on the same diet who did not get the boost. In addition, fortified low-fat yogurt is known as one of the best sources of vitamin D (2).
Yogurt for Your Gut!
Despite the limited amount of research available, it is still a fact that, as an excellent source of protein, calcium, and prebiotics, yogurt is an excellent weight loss aid (1).
Nonetheless, weight loss can be best-achieved if you use yogurt as a healthy alternative to high calorie, low protein foods rather than simply adding to your diet. As it aims to keep you full for longer, this dairy product naturally leads you to consume less calories throughout the day (1).
Yogurt boasts high protein content without the unnecessary fat, carbs, sugar, and calories. Moreover, it is rich in probiotics, which also aids in your immunity and digestive health, providing healthy bacteria for your gut. With its high satiating power, yogurt – especially Greek yogurt – can help you with your weight loss mission (9).