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Greek Yogurt Glycemic Index: Low GI Diet for Weight Loss

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I am a huge fan of plain yogurt and the positive effects it has on the body!

Greek yogurt full of nutrients and is great for weight loss

Greek yogurt full of nutrients and is great for weight loss

Greek Yogurt and Its Glycemic Index

This simple guide provides tips for using plain yogurt to meet your weight loss goals. Specifically, we will discuss 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.

How does this work? Stable blood sugar results in fewer food cravings, making it easier to lose weight. Plain yogurt is a nutritious snack that satisfies your appetite and helps keep your weight loss efforts on track.

Here are some tips on easy ways to include yogurt in your diet!

Why Is Plain Yogurt Best?

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 advises limiting saturated fat to below 10 percent of your total calories, with a goal of cutting saturated fat to 7 percent.
  • Another benefit is good digestion. 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 will be amazed at how much better your clothes fit and how 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.

Why the Glycemic Index Is a Key to Weight Loss

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, hypoglycemia, 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, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Greek yogurt works great in smoothies, as a dessert, and even as a sour cream substitute

Greek yogurt works great in smoothies, as a dessert, and even as a sour cream substitute

Tips to Using Plain Yogurt to Lose Weight

  • 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.
  • Some manufacturers 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.
  • For hiking and camping trips, I keep Greek yogurt in my cooler with a block of ice. This is a great way to save money and eat well during road trips.

How to Make Sure You're Buying Real Greek Yogurt

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 product 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.

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.

Glycemic Index Diet Limitations

  • The glycemic index doesn't provide information about the impact of the number 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


rutley from South Jersey on February 01, 2012:

Voted up and thanks so much!

Bryce (author) from Northern California Coast on November 18, 2011:

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 from Budapest, Hungary on November 18, 2011:

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.

Bryce (author) from Northern California Coast on October 28, 2011:

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.

Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on October 27, 2011:

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

Bryce (author) from Northern California Coast on April 28, 2011:

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 on April 25, 2011:

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.