Is Greek yogurt allowed on a low carb diet?

What is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is a strained form of yogurt that has been concentrated to remove most of the liquid whey. This process gives Greek yogurt a thicker, creamier texture than regular yogurt. It also removes some of the carbohydrates, resulting in a higher protein content. For this reason, Greek yogurt has become a popular food among those following low carb and high protein diets.

Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt contains roughly half the carbs. A 6 ounce serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains around 5-7 grams of carbohydrates, whereas regular nonfat yogurt has about 11-15 grams of carbs.

This reduced carb content is one reason why Greek yogurt is often recommended for low carb diets like the Paleo diet, Atkins diet, ketogenic diet, and other low carb eating plans. The higher protein content (typically twice that of regular yogurt) is also useful for keeping you full on fewer carbs.

Greek Yogurt Nutrition Facts

Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 6 ounce serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt:

– Calories: 100
– Fat: 0 g
– Carbs: 5-7 g
– Protein: 18-20 g
– Calcium: 20% DV
– Potassium: 9% DV

As you can see, a serving of Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein, providing nearly a third of the Daily Value. It also contains calcium, potassium, B vitamins, and probiotics.

The carb content comes mostly from the naturally occurring milk sugars (lactose) in the yogurt. However, the carb count can vary between brands depending on factors like the straining process and whether or not thickeners are added. Always check the nutrition label when purchasing Greek yogurt.

Is Greek Yogurt Keto Friendly?

The ketogenic or “keto” diet aims to get your body into a state of ketosis, where you burn fat rather than carbs for fuel. This requires restricting net carbs to around 20-50 grams per day.

While Greek yogurt is lower in carbs than regular yogurt, a serving may still contain too many carbs to fit a strict keto diet. A 6 ounce serving provides roughly a quarter of the daily carb limit on keto.

However, some people following a keto diet can still incorporate small amounts of Greek yogurt in moderation. Just be mindful of your total daily carb intake. Stick to plain, unsweetened varieties and limit portion sizes to about 4-6 ounces per day.

Some easy ways to enjoy Greek yogurt and stay keto-friendly include:

– Topping your yogurt with fresh berries, chia seeds, and cinnamon. Berries provide fiber that won’t raise your net carbs much.

– Mixing plain Greek yogurt with keto-approved nuts, seeds, spices, extracts, or sugar-free sweeteners like stevia to create flavored varieties.

– Using Greek yogurt to make keto dips, smoothies, chia puddings, or replacement for sour cream.

– Choosing higher fat Greek yogurt options to help meet your keto macros. Look for full fat, whole milk Greek yogurts.

So in short, yes – but only in moderation portion sizes that fit your daily carb allowance.

Is Greek Yogurt Paleo?

The Paleo diet aims to mimic the diets of our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors. As a result, it eliminates dairy products along with grains, legumes, processed foods, and sugars.

Because Greek yogurt comes from dairy, it is not included on the Paleo diet strictly speaking. However, some Paleo followers include full fat Greek yogurt and other probiotic-rich fermented dairy as an exception. This is because yogurt provides digestive and immune supporting probiotics that our ancestors likely consumed by drinking raw milk.

So most versions of the Paleo diet exclude Greek yogurt. But some Paleo dieters choose to make an exception for probiotic-rich, full fat plain Greek yogurt in moderation.

Is Greek Yogurt Allowed on Atkins?

The Atkins diet is a popular low carb diet that emphasizes protein and healthy fats while restricting total carb intake, especially in the initial phases.

In the beginning stages, the Atkins diet limits carbs to only 20 grams per day which does not leave much room for yogurt. But once you reach the later phases and start adding more carbs to your diet, Greek yogurt can be included in moderation.

The key is sticking to plain, unsweetened varieties and being mindful of portions. A serving of Greek yogurt can account for a third or more of your daily carb intake on Atkins. So enjoy yogurt sparingly and focus on getting most of your carbs from low glycemic index vegetables and small amounts of fruit instead.

Here are some tips for fitting Greek yogurt into the Atkins diet:

– Stick to a 4-6 oz serving. Measure it out rather than eating from a large container.

– Mix in seeds, nuts, spices, extracts or stevia to add flavor without extra carbs.

– Pair yogurt with lower carb foods like berries and leafy greens.

– Opt for full fat or 2% fat Greek yogurt to help you feel satiated.

– Be mindful of other carbs and aim to stay under 20-50g total per day depending on your phase.

Is Greek Yogurt Good For Weight Loss?

Greek yogurt has a number of properties that make it useful for promoting weight loss:

Higher protein – Having adequate protein intake helps reduce appetite, increase metabolism, and prevent muscle breakdown on a calorie deficit. Greek yogurt provides nearly double the protein of regular yogurt.

Thicker consistency – The creamy, thick texture of Greek yogurt takes longer to consume and satisfies hunger. This promotes feelings of fullness compared to more liquid-y yogurts.

Less sugar – Greek yogurt tends to be lower in sugar since the straining process removes some lactose. This means fewer carbs and calories than sugary flavored yogurts.

Probiotics – The probiotics in yogurt support a healthy gut microbiome, which may promote weight loss according to some studies.

Versatility – Greek yogurt is a high protein ingredient you can include in smoothies, snacks, dips, dressings, baked goods, and more to help you feel full while cutting calories.

Studies specifically looking at Greek yogurt for weight loss are limited. But eating Greek yogurt in place of other high-calorie, high-sugar snacks as part of a healthy diet can absolutely help with shedding pounds.

Just be sure to stick with plain, unsweetened varieties of Greek yogurt without added sugars. Pre-flavored yogurts often include sweeteners that add extra, unnecessary calories and carbs.

What About Low Fat vs Full Fat Greek Yogurt?

When choosing a healthy Greek yogurt option, should you opt for full fat or low fat varieties? Here’s a look at the differences:

– Full fat Greek yogurt contains around 8 grams of fat per serving, whereas low fat has roughly 1 gram of fat.

– Full fat Greek yogurt provides fatty acids that may promote fullness, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s.

– Full fat yogurt has more calories. A serving has around 150-180 calories rather than 100 calories for low fat.

– Both full and low fat Greek yogurt provide lots of protein, calcium, probiotics and other nutrients.

Current nutrition advice generally favors unprocessed full fat dairy products over low fat. While full fat Greek yogurt is a bit higher in calories, the fat content seems to be beneficial and the extra calories are not likely to lead to weight gain.

Studies also show that full fat dairy foods improve markers of health and may help with weight regulation when included as part of an overall healthy diet.

For most people, choosing full fat over low fat Greek yogurt is fine. Just focus on sticking with plain, unsweetened varieties and keeping portion sizes reasonable.

Tips for Adding Greek Yogurt to a Low Carb Diet

Here are some simple ways to incorporate Greek yogurt into a low carb eating pattern:

– Use it to make smoothies. Blend Greek yogurt with a small amount of berries and chia seeds for a low carb breakfast.

– Mix in spices, extracts, cinnamon, or sugar-free sweetener to give your yogurt more flavor.

– Top Greek yogurt with chopped nuts or seeds for a crunchy, satisfying texture.

– Enjoy Greek yogurt topped with low carb fruits like berries or peeled, diced peaches.

– Combine with avocado and lemon juice as a tangy salad dressing or dip.

– Use as a base for chia pudding or overnight oats made with chia seeds, nuts, and spices.

– Combine with baked chicken, fish, or fajita veggies for a protein-rich wrap or topping.

– Swap mayo for Greek yogurt when making chicken, tuna, or egg salad recipes.

– Use in place of sour cream on tacos, chili, baked potatoes or other low carb meals.

The key is sticking to plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt and pairing with other low carb ingredients for maximum nutrition without spiking blood sugar. Measure portions and account for the carbs as part of your daily intake.

Potential Drawbacks of Greek Yogurt

While Greek yogurt provides protein and nutrients, there are a couple potential downsides to keep in mind:

Higher in sodium – The straining process concentrates the sodium naturally present in yogurt. Greek yogurt averages around 80mg sodium per serving.

Contains lactose – Those with lactose intolerance may be unable to tolerate Greek yogurt well. Lactose-free varieties are available.

Easy to overeat – The high protein and creamy texture make Greek yogurt very satiating. But this can also lead to consuming more calories than intended if portions are not measured.

May cause GI issues – Some people report bloating or gas when eating Greek yogurt regularly. Start with small servings to see how your body handles it.

High environmental impact – Dairy production requires significant water, land and energy resources. Consider organic and local options to reduce your carbon footprint.

Easy to buy flavored – It takes effort to find plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt without added sugars or artificial ingredients at many grocers.

As with most foods, moderation and mindfulness when choosing and consuming Greek yogurt are key. Pay attention to how your body reacts and adjust your intake accordingly.

Greek Yogurt Recipes for Low Carb Diets

Here are some delicious Greek yogurt recipe ideas that work great for low carb, Paleo, keto and Atkins diets:

1. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

– 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
– 1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
– 1 celery stalk, diced
– 1⁄4 cup diced onion
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tsp mustard
– 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
– Salt, pepper and dill to taste

1. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, Greek yogurt, mayo, celery, onion, lemon juice, mustard and seasonings.
2. Mix well until fully combined.
3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.
4. Serve on low carb wraps or on top of salad greens.

2. Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing

– 1 cup Greek yogurt
– 1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 1⁄4 tsp garlic powder
– 1⁄4 tsp onion powder
– 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and creamy.
2. Store in the refrigerator and use on salads, veggies, wraps or as a dip.

3. Greek Yogurt Banana Protein Pancakes

– 1 ripe banana, mashed
– 2 eggs
– 1⁄4 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 1 scoop (25g) vanilla protein powder
– 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
– 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
– Coconut oil for cooking

1. In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a little coconut oil.
3. Pour batter into skillet to form 4 inch pancakes. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden.
4. Top with additional Greek yogurt and berries if desired.

4. Greek Yogurt Berry Chia Pudding

– 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
– 1⁄4 cup chia seeds
– 1 cup mixed berries
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tbsp honey or low carb sweetener (optional)

1. In a bowl, mix together Greek yogurt, chia seeds, vanilla and sweetener (if using).
2. Fold in 3⁄4 cup of the berries, saving some for topping.
3. Refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours to thicken.
4. Top with remaining berries before serving.

5. Greek Yogurt Baked Chicken

– 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
– 1 cup Greek yogurt
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 2 tsp dried oregano
– 1⁄4 tsp paprika
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken breasts in baking dish.
2. In a bowl, mix Greek yogurt, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and seasonings.
3. Spread mixture evenly over both sides of chicken.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
5. Broil 2-3 minutes at end to brown tops if desired.

The Bottom Line

Greek yogurt can be included as part of a healthy low carb diet when consumed in moderation. Stick to unsweetened, plain varieties and account for the carbs. Enjoy Greek yogurt in smoothies, chia puddings, dressings, dips and other recipes to take advantage of its high protein content and nutrients without spiking blood sugar.

Pair yogurt with low carb fruits, nuts, seeds and spices to keep carb counts low. Measure portions to avoid overeating. Select full fat options for satiety, if tolerated.

While Greek yogurt is not strictly allowed on stricter versions of keto and Paleo, it can work for some people when servings are measured and total carbs are kept very low throughout the rest of the day.

Overall, Greek yogurt can be a tasty and nutritious addition to a low carb eating pattern for many people. Just consume mindfully and in balance with other low carb whole foods.

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