Greek yogurt started to become the cool kid in about 2009 with its popularity spiking over recent years. There are now whole sections of the grocery store devoted to just Greek yogurt. As the number of Greek yogurt products have rapidly increased, so to has the confusion over which products are healthy or unhealthy. It is vital to read the Greek yogurt label to determine if it is fattening or unhealthy.
Is Greek Yogurt Fattening?
Sugar in Greek Yogurt
Most flavored Greek yogurt varieties have added sugar or sweeteners. Excessive sugar intake can add pounds to the waistline quickly so avoid products containing added sugar or sweeteners like fructose, juice concentrate, or high fructose corn syrup. All dairy milk based Greek yogurt naturally contains sugar known as lactose. This is why if you read a nutrition label with ingredients of just milk and live cultures, it will show a small amount of sugar. This type of sugar is Okay, but what should be a concern is the sugar added beyond the lactose sugar.
Fat in Greek Yogurt
Although some fats can be healthy in a diet, it is best to stick with non-fat or low-fat plain varieties if you are counting calories. A gram of fat contains nine calories so obviously the more fat, the higher the calories. Higher calorie Greek yogurt products will sometimes have saturated fats, which are responsible for raising cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day. It is best to avoid yogurt products with saturated fats if you can.
Carbs in Greek Yogurt
We recently published an article on carbs in Greek yogurt. We looked for Greek yogurt products with 10 or less carbs and found only plain Greek yogurt products meeting this qualification, based on our sample. We found that the carbs in Greek yogurt typically double that of plain when flavoring (strawberry, honey, peach, etc.) is added. Greek yogurt high in carbs will likely have high sugar, which may add to increased weight gain if consumed excessively with other unhealthy foods.
Calories in Greek Yogurt
The range of calories in Greek yogurt is all over the place from product-to-product . For example, one cup of Greek Gods Honey Strawberry has 300 calories, whereas one cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt has approximately 120 calories. You can see that The Greek Gods approaches dessert like calories whereas the plain is a sensible snack in terms of calories. A Greek yogurt is likely more like a dessert if the ingredients are something similar to what you might also find on an ice cream sundae (caramel or chocolate). The majority of the time it is best to steer clear of these products if you are trying to avoid fattening yogurt.
Like most things in this world, there are good and bad options. Greek yogurt is no exception. Greek yogurt is fattening if you select a high calorie option and eat it in excess. It is not fattening if you eat a sensible portion of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. If avoiding fattening Greek yogurt is your goal, it is best to read the label before buying to verify you are buying a healthy product. Many times a product may seems health by the package, but in reality it is more like a dessert. Click here for a list of lower calorie, lower carb, and low fat or zero fat Greek yogurt options.