Is Yogurt Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Bridget Nalwoga, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Who doesn’t enjoy a good serving of cold yogurt on a hot afternoon? It is not only a refreshing treat but also a very healthy one. 

The problem is yogurt is healthiest in its most natural form. However, with processing, many additives are added to it to appeal to consumers. 

When this happens, you have to wonder if the health benefits still outweigh the potential effects of the additives, especially on a ketogenic diet. 

In this article, we will answer some of the questions you might have, like: is yogurt ketogenic, what is the best keto-approved yogurt, how much can you have, and so much more.

 

What is yogurt?

Yogurt is a food made by fermenting milk using bacteria. The bacteria used is not to be feared. It is the good kind known as probiotics.

The bacteria break down the sugar in the milk (lactose) into lactic acid. The lactic acid acts on the protein in the milk, making it thick and giving it a tart flavor. 

The food (or drink!) is believed to have originated in Turkey thousands of years ago. While very popular today everywhere, it only became mainstream in the West in the 1950s.   

Is yogurt a carb?

Well, it is not that simple. It does contain carbs, but the amount differs according to the type.

 

Yogurt nutrition information

This food has a unique nutrition profile because it has substantial amounts of all three macronutrients. It also contains a rich variety of vitamins and minerals.

Serving size: 100 g of regular plain yogurt

  • Calories: 88 kcal
  • Fat: 3.3 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 4.7 g
  • Total carbs: 4.7 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g 
  • Calcium: 121 mg

Serving size: 100 g of plain Greek yogurt

  • Calories: 97 kcal
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 4 g
  • Total carbs: 4 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 9 g 
  • Calcium: 100 mg

Greek yogurt has been strained multiple times, removing more of the whey (which is the lactose or milk sugar containing portion of yoghurt). This creates a thick creamy consistency and a product that is concentrated in protein and slightly lower in carbs. Greek and plain yogurt come in a variety of forms, from fat-free, low-fat and whole/ full-cream as well as sweetened and flavoured versions. For good heart health it’s a good rule of thumb to replace animal fats in your diet with plant fats (i.e. choose low fat plain/ Greek yogurt) and then add nuts and seeds to increase the fat content of your meal. However, this also depends on what else you are eating in the day and your preferences. Always look at the ingredients list to check for added starches (which can act as thickeners) and double check the carb count.

This nutrition information does not apply to flavored and sweetened varieties. These contain more sugar and therefore more carbohydrates. Some sweetened versions have up to 35 g of carbs per 100 g serving.

Health benefits of yogurt

Yogurt is a controversial topic in the low-carb community. You might wonder why it is not just eliminated like other dairy products such as ice cream. 

Well, first of all, the food is very delicious, but it is much more than a tasty treat. It has so many other health benefits, some of which include:

  • Source of probiotics. Fermented foods provide billions of good bacteria that improve gut health in addition to other health benefits like stronger immunity and clear skin. Yogurt is pasteurized thus the natural probiotics are unfortunately eliminated, not to worry though as manufacturers usually add them back. Check that your yogurt contains ‘live cultures’ to ensure you are getting in your daily dose.
  • Rich in protein. Dairy and dairy products are some of the best sources of protein, especially among breakfast options. Protein is essential for building muscle and helps you stay full for longer after a meal. 
  • Source of fat. Fat acts as an energy source and also helps provide satiety after a meal.
  • Strong bones and teeth. Calcium helps to strengthen bones and teeth.

 

JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS

 

Can you eat yogurt on keto?

Yes, depending on the type.

You can eat plain Greek yogurt on keto. Avoid flavored and sweetened types and check the label of lower fat versions to make sure they don’t contain fillers. 

Plain Greek yogurt contains only 4 g of net carbs per 100 g serving, which is very reasonable for such a filling nutritious food. It makes a wonderfully healthy addition to breakfast. It is also excellent as an afternoon snack, especially in the warmer months.

Frozen, it makes an equally delicious but healthier alternative to ice cream. 

Note: Just because a brand is labeled sugar-free or sweetened with stevia does not mean it is keto-safe. The carbohydrates naturally contained in milk are enough to offset a ketogenic diet.

Always read the nutrition label to find out the total net carbs in the product.

 

How much yogurt can you have on a ketogenic diet?

With every 100 g of plain Greek yogurt (about ¼ cup) having only 4 g of carbs, you can incorporate this easily into your individual carb limit. ½-1 cup is a great portion for breakfast paired with nuts, seeds and a handful of low sugar fruit. 

However, even if it is keto-friendly, it is still possible to have too much. Try not to eat straight out of a tub that has more than you intend to eat.

Instead, pre-portion into a separate bowl before eating. To save time, you can buy small containers that have only 1 serving. Most brands come in several sizes, so this should not be a problem.

 

What kind of yogurt is best for keto?

Let’s take a look at the different types and see which you should or shouldn’t incorporate.

  • Greek. This is the best type for keto because of its lower carb content. It is also richer in protein than other varieties.
  • With fruit. This is not keto-friendly because fruits are usually rich in sugars. Low-carb fruits might be used, but the product is usually sweetened anyway.
  • Flavored. Yogurts with flavors like vanilla, strawberry, and blueberry are not keto-safe. Low-carb varieties sweetened with sweeteners are available but always check the nutrition label to ensure they fit your macros.
  • Low-fat. Plain low-fat yogurt is usually okay to eat on keto, just remember to up the fat content of the meal by adding nuts and seeds. Remember to check the label for starch fillers and avoid sweetened versions.
  • Plant-based. This is usually very keto-friendly since it is made from nuts or coconuts which are low in carbs and high in fat. Nuts commonly used include almond, cashews, and coconuts (not a nut). Always check if it has been sweetened or thickened using starches, this will increase the carb count.

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN

 

Keto-friendly replacements for yogurt

While nothing can truly replace that rich creamy taste, you can still enjoy these more keto-approved alternatives for yogurt.

  • Chia pudding
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Thick smoothies
  • Sour cream. When making dressings or dips like tzatziki, you can use lower-carb sour cream instead.
  • Mayonnaise works just as well as in dressings, dips, and baked recipes.

 

FAQs on eating yogurt on the ketogenic diet

Keep reading to find answers to some of the questions you might have.

Greek yogurt is slightly lower in carbs than the regular kind. It is also more concentrated in protein and sometimes fat.

When the Greek variety is made, it is strained three times to remove the liquid. The more times it is strained, the thicker it is.

Lactose is found in the liquid portion of milk (the whey), as most of the whey is strained off Greek yogurt is slightly lower in carbs than plain yogurt.

For a snack you are sure is ketogenic, try this easy 2-ingredient recipe.

Ingredients

  • Sour cream, 1 cup
  • Double cream, 2 tablespoons
  • Probiotics, 1 serving as indicated on the packaging (Optional)
  • Vanilla essence, for vanilla flavor (Optional)
  • Berries, (Optional)

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until well combined.
  3. Serve immediately or chilled.

When choosing a low-fat dairy product, it’s important that it has not been sweetened (this will add carbs) and it’s also important to add some plant based fats to the meal to ensure you are getting in enough energy (in the form of fat).

If you do choose the full-fat or full-cream version because you enjoy their flavour, you may not need to add extra fats. Check your individual macros to decide what is best for you.

Yes, you can as long as you use low-carb fruits and stay below your carbohydrate limit.

You can for example enjoy half a cup of sliced strawberries with a 100 g serving of plain Greek yogurt for only 8.7 g net carbs.

Nut-based and coconut yogurts are usually just as or even more keto-friendly.

Nut-based yogurts like almond and cashew make excellent additions to low-carb diets. However, they must also be unflavored, unsweetened, and low-carb to qualify as ketogenic.

Keto-friendly dairy products include ghee, cheese, butter, cream, and whipping cream.

Non-keto dairy products include evaporated milk, dried milk, buttermilk, and sweetened dairy products.

 

Other dairy alternatives to consider on a keto diet

  • Butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Heavy whipping cream, also known as heavy cream