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Greek Yogurt Glycemic Index: Low GI Diet for Weight Loss

Updated on January 26, 2013

Greek Yogurt 2013 Update

Read the labels carefully on products claiming to be "Greek yogurt." Many products making this claim are made by companies that use ingredients that aren't traditional to Greek yogurt, resulting in a yogurt that doesn't have the higher protein and rich, thick texture of traditional Greek yogurt. Some commercial yogurt makers add gelatin and other ingredients that aren't necessary in real Greek yogurt.

Yogurt Label Tips

  • Check serving size to make comparisons. Many yogurts give nutritional information for 8 ounces (1 cup), but some give information based on 6 oz. or 4 oz. This can make the calories and fat seem lower when you compare them to a larger serving size.
  • Check the amount of carbohydrates. The higher the sugar content, the more carbohydrates there. Plain yogurt is the lowest in carbs.
  • Check the protein. Yogurts claiming to be "Greek yogurt" might have only 6 grams of protein -- no more than other yogurts. Authentic yogurts, especially strained Greek yogurt, will generally have 10 to 12 grams of protein in an 8 oz. serving.

Inferior products that claim to be Greek yogurt don't offer the higher protein content that helps to stabilize blood sugar. Regular yogurt, unless it's reduced-lactose, contain a significant amount of carbohydrates -- that includes plain yogurt, simply because the milk in yogurt contains lactose, a natural sugar. Greek yogurt that's made the traditional way is strained, resulting in a thick, protein-rich yogurt with the consistency of custard. Unfortunately, even some of the thick-textured so-called Greek yogurts are imposters and have the same protein level in grams as other commercial yogurts.

Your best bet is to buy yogurt from companies that specialize in Greek yogurt, instead of companies that recently started faking "Greek yogurt" to make a profit off of the popularity of a food that's superior to anything in their product line.

A simple guide to using plain yogurt to help with weight loss, including information on the significance of the glycemic index in weight management. Low-glycemic foods such as plain yogurt contribute to stable blood sugar. Authentic, strained Greek yogurt is particularly valuable in reducing hunger and supporting healthy weight loss.

Stable blood sugar results in fewer food cravings, making it easier to lose weight. Plain yogurt provides a nutritious snack with a low glycemic index to satisfy your appetite and help keep your weight loss efforts on track. Tips on easy ways to include yogurt in your diet, and yogurt benefits for weight loss.

Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt is a nutritious, low-glycemic food that can help keep your blood sugar stable. Keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range supports mental focus and physical health, and curbs your appetite. High GI foods, such as processed foods, cause a rapid rise in blood sugar followed by a crash when your blood sugar drops. This pattern can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index ranks carbohydrate foods based on their effect on blood glucose, according to the American Diabetes Association. Foods that rank at 50 or below count as low glycemic. The glycemic index ranks foods relative to glucose — glucose ranks as 100. Plain yogurt has a low glycemic index.

Managing your blood sugar by using the glycemic index provides a healthy strategy for people with diabetes, hypoglycemic and anyone who wants to manage their weight and appetite.

The glycemic index can guide you to make healthier food choices to help protect yourself from chronic diseases. A diet heavy in high-GI processed foods such as sweets and white bread puts you at increased risk for metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and some cancers, the Harvard School of Public Health says.

Use plain yogurt for breakfast, salads, smoothies, desserts and as a sour cream substitute.

Beet Root with Yogurt by Girl Interrupted Eating
Beet Root with Yogurt by Girl Interrupted Eating | Source

Glycemic Index Diet Limitations

  • The glycemic index doesn't provide information about the impact of the quantity of carbohydrate foods on your blood sugar. Another system, called "glycemic load" offers a more accurate assessment. Paying attention to portion size is a key to managing blood glucose and your weight, according to the American Diabetes Association. The carbohydrates in plain yogurt come from lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk. Some adults have difficulty digesting lactose.
  • The glycemic index doesn't address food composition or quality. A chocolate bar may have a lower GI than oatmeal, so it's important to use your judgment to make nutritious food choices.

Yogurt for Weight Loss Tips

Plain yogurt offers the advantage of being free of sugar, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, colorings and other additives common to many commercial yogurts. Yogurt contains calcium and beneficial bacteria.

Plain yogurt has a glycemic index of 14, according to the Low-Carb Resource website. By comparison, reduced-fat yogurt with fruit has an average GI of 27.

The fat content of plain yogurt varies, ranging from non-fat to whole milk yogurt. It's important to limit saturated fat to reduce your risk of heart disease. The United States Department of Agriculture's 2010 Dietary Guidelines advise limiting saturated fat to below 10 percent of your total calories, with a goal of cutting saturated fat to 7 percent.

Preliminary evidence suggests eating a low-glycemic diet promotes weight loss.

2011 Weight Loss with Yogurt Update

I've burned off 32 pounds since last December. I enjoy yogurt in a morning smoothie, as a snack with berries or frozen as a substitute frozen dessert. I freeze plain or natural fruit yogurt made without sugar. Most frozen yogurts are full of sugar and other ingredients I prefer to avoid.

Partially thawing the yogurt and serving it with dark cherries, blueberries or organic strawberries satisfies my sweet tooth, with healthy probiotics, calcium, antioxidants and vitamins. Combined with regular exercise and a whole-food diet, yogurt offers a versatile food to make a low-glycemic diet more enjoyable. Certain dairies offer lactose-free yogurt and kefir. Lactose is a natural sugar in dairy products -- it raises the glycemic index of the food and some adults have difficulty digesting lactose.

September 2012 Update

I'm within a few pounds of my goal weight. I gained a few pounds during some stressful freelancing setbacks and was able to lose the weight within a few weeks with improved nutrition and exercise.

Greek yogurt continues to be a staple food. It's a relatively inexpensive source of quality protein. For hiking and camping trips, I keep Greek yogurt in my cooler with block ice. This is a great way to save money and eat healthy during road trips. The fat content of low-fat and even whole milk Greek yogurt can be part of a healthy diet, provided you aren't on a restricted diet for medical reasons.

A reasonable amount of dietary fat helps to keep you fuller longer and slows down the metabolism of sugars, such as milk sugar and fruit, so that you stay full longer and don't have the blood sugar crashes that can lead to food cravings and overeating.

Vigorous exercise busts stress and helps to keep healthy eating on track. I wish all of you a healthier year. Start with one or two small changes, and you can change your entire life. I'm much more active and feel better about myself with a 33 waist than I did when I was wearing a 38.

Start today and keep track of what you eat and how much you exercise. Within a few days, your clothes will feel looser, even if the numbers on the scale don't move right away. Persist, and you can do it!

January 2013 Update

Another yogurt benefit is good digestion. A common problem is bloating, which can make you look and feel bigger, especially in the abdomen. Pasta and other food made with white flour can promote bloating. When you eat yogurt regularly and cut out refined carbohydrates such as processed grains and sugar, you might be amazed how much better your clothes fit and that you become free of bloating. My belly used to blow up like a beach ball after certain meals -- I don't miss that at all. As always, consult your doctor about any health problems.


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    • rutley profile image

      rutley 5 years ago from South Jersey

      Voted up and thanks so much!

    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Plinka -- That's a good point, as a dancer you have an added incentive. Adding fresh fruit works well with yogurt -- and gives sweetness without the high added sugar content of certain commercial yogurts. Natural fruit tastes good and gives your body more carbohydrates to use as fuel -- you burn it off in physical activity. Bananas are a great choice for a healthy person -- and they add fiber. For anyone with blood sugar issues, a lower-carbohydrate fruit such as blueberries adds flavor with less fruit sugar.

    • plinka profile image

      plinka 5 years ago from Budapest, Hungary

      Useful hub! I'm on a diet too, because I dance and I don't want to put on weight. Yogurt is a basic part of my diet as well. I usually blend it with smashed bananas. I know, bananas are quite sweet, but I need energy during the day. I try to avoid bread and rolls and eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, drink a lot of water, etc. I don't crave for sweets at all. I think, it's just a bad habit which you can get rid of by going cold turkey.

    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Ubanichijioke -- Thank you for taking time to comment. My weight loss writing comes from experience. Even though I do a lot of research, I like to write about the things I know work. Once I realized I could be free of food cravings, my weight loss became much easier.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 5 years ago from Lagos

      These are easy and healthy weight loss strategies. You write with a rare gift of expertise. Voted useful and interesting

    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 6 years ago from Northern California Coast

      BlissfulWriter --

      Good point about avoiding hfcs and excess sugar. Reading labels shows that yogurt ingredients vary a lot. Recently I searched through five brands of Greek yogurt to find one made the natural way, without gelatin and various additives. I usually buy plain yogurt and add it to fresh fruit or cooked whole oats. I also make my own salad dressings with it and serve it with Mediterranean-style meals and Mexican food.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      Yes, yogurt is a very healthy food. Avoid those with high-fructose corn syrup or those lot of sugar in it. I do try to eat low-glycemic foods rather than high-glycemic ones.

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