What is the Best Yogurt for Weight Loss?


Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein both of which may be important for weight loss. And there are other benefits. But in my opinion only limited number of single serving yogurt products rate very highly. Let’s take a look at the ones I think are best.

I wrote a previous article on Yogurt for a Healthy Low Calorie Diet that goes into the specifics of the different kinds of yogurt. In this article my emphasis will be on plain non-fat yogurt both regular and Greek Yogurt. These are your best choice. Look for simple, plain yogurt without added sugar, fruit, fiber, granola, or any kind of artificial or natural sweetener.

NOTE: I have mixed feelings about sweeteners, particularly artificial sweeteners for weight loss. These may or may not be suitable for your diet. If you have a favorite sweetener that you feel comfortable using I think you would be better off buying plain yogurt and adding the sweetener at home than letting a food company choose one for you.

Healthy Low Calorie Yogurt

Purchasing yogurt is somewhat like getting a mystery gift. Do you know what you are buying?

Why I like Plain Yogurt

1. Plain yogurt can be purchased as a non-fat or low-fat product.

This means you get fewer calories and little or no saturated fat. You need some healthy fat in your diet and a little saturated fat is fine but it isn’t too hard to get plenty from other foods. The calories in fat can add up fast. When there’s little or no fat in yogurt the calorie count will typically be low IF there are no added ingredients such as sugar!

2. You can substitute yogurt for other less healthy ingredients such as sour cream in your favorite recipes or even create an entire well-balanced meal with plain yogurt as the base.

Add fresh or dried fruit, nuts, and cereal to plain yogurt to make a parfait. Create low calorie nutritious smoothies by blending yogurt, fruit, veggies, nuts, and/or seeds.
Add plain yogurt to pancakes, muffins, fruit or vegetable dishes, salads, soups, spreads, and more. Plain yogurts add flavor, lots of important nutrients, and relatively few calories.

3. Some yogurts are fortified with vitamin D.

The calcium you need in your daily diet can only be absorbed and used by your body if you have enough vitamin D. Getting enough vitamin D in your diet from every day foods can be a challenge unless you get plenty of sunshine each day. So having vitamin D present with calcium in the yogurt you buy can be an advantage.

4. Plain yogurts may be acceptable for someone who is lactose intolerant.

A person with this sensitivity cannot make enough of the enzyme lactase to digest lactose. This means most milk products are a problem because they are a source of the natural sugar lactose. However the bacterial strains commonly used to make yogurt can produce the lactase enzyme and do most of the digesting for you. Although yogurt with active and live bacterial cultures may contain a little undigested lactose, it is my understanding that most people who experience sensitivity to lactose can tolerate a small amount in their diet.

NOTE: Frozen yogurt does not have the bacterial cultures of fresh yogurt and as such may not be well tolerated if you have lactose intolerance.

Greek yogurts are thick and creamy. Because they are processed differently than regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has as much as two times or more the protein.

You may find you no longer have a choice between the “regular” plain yogurts and the Greek yogurts at your supermarket. Greek yogurts have become the more popular choice for a variety of reasons. As such consumer demand may no longer be as strong as it once was for “regular” plain yogurts, so they are not being stocked as often. Not too long ago they were the only choice you had (in many parts of the United States).

Which Plain Non-Fat Yogurt Brand is Best?

I find regular plain yogurt to be somewhat thin and watery without much taste by itself but that can make it a good choice for adding to certain recipes. Greek yogurt is thick and creamy but somewhat tart tasting in my opinion. Finding the taste that you like best may take a bit of experimenting because it can vary considerably from one brand to another. The best tasting plain yogurts are NOT fat free so make sure you read the label carefully!

Greek yogurt is processed in a way that results in about two times the protein of regular plain yogurt. If your goal is to increase your protein intake for a given meal then Greek yogurt might be best. On the other hand there are certain recipes for which a lighter regular yogurt might be better.

Here’s a list of the non-fat plain yogurts both regular and Greek that I found available where I live. I’ll list the nutritional breakdown for these products to help you decide for yourself what might be best. Take a look at the factors relevant to you.

Calories range from 80-120 for a 5.3 to 6 oz. carton.
Protein ranges from 15-18 grams.
Sugars range from 6-12 grams. (Milk has some natural sugar about 12 grams per cup.)
Calcium ranges from 15 to 40% DV or about 150 to 400 mg.

NOTE: Calcium and vitamin D needs for Women

Women younger than 50 need a total of 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 400-800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D every day.

Women age 50 and older need a total of 1,200 mg of calcium and 800-1,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D every day.

Only two of the yogurts include vitamin D that I could find. If you live in a northern state I would say these yogurts may the better choice in the colder months of the year. Also, keep in mind that your body can only absorb about 600 mg of calcium at a time (when you have enough vitamin D present). I share this because if you are taking supplements you might not want to take a supplement at the same time as one of these yogurts. It won’t hurt you but, if I understand it right, the extra calcium won’t be absorbed.

Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt
5.3 oz.
Non-fat

Calories = 80
Protein = 15 g
Sugars = 6 g
Calcium = 15%
Vit. D = 0%

Yoplait Greek Yogurt
6 oz.
Fat Free

Calories = 120
Protein = 15 g
Sugars = 8 g
Calcium = 40%
Vit. D = 25%

Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
6 oz.
Non-fat

Calories = 100
Protein = 18 g
Sugars = 7 g
Calcium = 20%
Vit. D = 0%

Fage Greek Yogurt
6 oz.
Non-fat

Calories = 100
Protein = 18 g
Sugars = 7 g
Calcium = 20%
Vit. D = 0%

Kroger Greek Yogurt
6 oz.
Non-fat

Calories = 110
Protein = 16 g
Sugars = 6 g
Calcium = 20%
Vit. D = 15%

Dannon is the only plain regular yogurt I’ve found where I live. Take a look at how the protein compares with the Greek yogurts:

Dannon Plain Regular Yogurt
6 oz.
Non-fat

Calories = 80
Protein = 8 g
Sugars = 12 g
Calcium = 30%
Vit. D = 0%

Some Meal/Recipe Ideas for Non-Fat Plain Yogurt

Healthy Smoothies for Weight Loss

Nutritious Low Calorie Spreads, Condiments, and Dips

Healthy High Protein Breakfast Ideas

Choosing the right products when you grocery shop can be difficult! I hope this article will give you a better sense of the best yogurts for weight loss to help you reach your diet goals.

Best of luck,

Lori