‘Which yogurt is best/healthiest/highest in protein/lowest in sugar?’ This is one of the most popular set of question I get asked in relation to healthy snacking particularly at this time of year. Therefore, in an effort to give you the most informative answer I have put together the nutritionals of the most popular types of yogurts.
What you notice first is the majority of yogurts are between 70-100 kcal & differ mainly in their fat & carbohydrate content; they are higher either in fat or carbohydrate but not both unless they are full-fat fruit yogurts, but then the calories are also increased. Notice that the protein content is also pretty much the same in regular yogurts but jumps to much higher in the Greek yogurts.
Greek yogurt is higher in protein as its processing makes it more concentrated. Also when you remove the fat from any yogurt you make more room for protein, hence why 0% fat is higher in protein.
So which is better??? Honestly, it depends on you! Your goals & your personal preferences of whether you like it creamy, fruity and/or with added extra’s like fruit/nuts.
Lets break this important decision down by goal, which yogurt is the best choice for;
Weight loss; the one with the lowest calories or the one that fits within your calorie limits, remember weight loss can only occur if you eat less than your expend. However, choosing a yogurt which is higher in protein may also increase your satiety, helping you stay more satisfied until your next meal. Enjoying the snack is also an important factor when choosing a yogurt, if you feel like you have enjoyed a tasty snack, that also hits your calorie and protein goals you are much more likely to feel good about yourself and stick to your nutrition plan.
A Healthy Snack; the one that you get the most pleasure from eating ☺. Snacking calories are usually between 100-300 kcal, depending on your daily calories requirements. So realistically you could choose any of the yogurts suggested & even add some fruit, nuts, seeds etc. I always veer towards those with higher protein, which I think is a good choice particularly for females as it can be hard for us to hit our daily protein requirements & it keeps me full for longer (I am constantly hungry!!)
Performance; ultimately the yogurt that fits into your daily nutrition plan and compliments your daily calories requirements which supports your performance goals.
- Improve Body composition: my answer is similar to the above weight loss answer; choose the yogurt that is going to satisfy your hunger and food cravings while staying within your calorie requirements.
- Fuelling: Choose a yogurt higher in energy, carbohydrate & protein but low in fat to facilitate faster deliver of nutrients to the muscle to support fuelling. What type of yogurt you choose may also depend on what you are eating as part of your pre-training meal/snack. For example, if you are eating it with a bowl of pasta & chicken the most important factor is that it functions to further increase the energy content of the meal to meet your energy demands for training as your carbohydrate and protein needs have already been covered by the pasta and chicken. However, if you are having it at your desk before training with a banana, then it should be high in energy, carbs and protein to support the muscle while you train.
- Recovery: If you are eating yogurt as part of your recovery plan, it should be to support long term recovery and therefore compliment your daily total calorie, protein, carbohydrate & fat goals. Greek yogurt is a great snack choice before bed as it is high in casein. This is a type of protein which is digested at a slower rate delivering protein to the muscle over a 3-6 h window which will facilitate the recovery process while you sleep.
In summary, your yogurt choice is individual to you and as long as the snack contributes towards your health/performance goals and is within your calorie limits it is totally individual which one you choose! And yes, there are outliers such as Activia 0% fruit (57 kcal) and Skyr (77 kcal with 13g Protein) but the same rules apply, they may be a superior choice for you but it doesn’t mean it’s the only best choice of yogurt.
My personal choice is full-fat Greek every time, creamy & delicious with some berries on top, it makes me happy ☺