Harley Pasternak, personal trainer to stars — including Lady Gaga — and creator of the “5-Factor Diet,” just tweeted about five essential ingredients to keep at home — one of them was Greek yogurt. But is Greek yogurt healthier than the regular runnier variety?
Not necessarily, says Marissa Lim. “Both regular and Greek yogurt are good or excellent sources of calcium and protein,” says the Toronto-based registered dietitian. One of the main differences between the two versions comes from how the yogurt is made.
Greek yogurt gets its’ creamier consistency thanks to the whey protein being removed — making what’s leftover, like the protein, more concentrated. Greek yogurt packs a powerhouse of protein — twice the amount when compared to regular yogurt. So if you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, perhaps you’re vegan or on a restricted diet, this might be the choice for you.
(Note: we need 0.8 to one gram of protein for one kilogram of body weight, in case you were wondering. So a 140-pound woman, for example, needs approximately 57 grams of protein daily.)
A single 175-gram serving of Greek yogurt will provide you with 18 grams of protein.
Lim does recommend opting for a zero-fat variety if you do prefer Greek. “The fats tend to be saturated fats, which you should limit in your diet,” she says. If the lack of creaminess in these versions is turn-off to you, try the one- or two-per cent fat versions.
When choosing between regular and Greek yogurt, both make great snacks, so Lim recommends letting your personal goals and preferences dictate your choice. “If you’re looking for more protein, go with Greek. If flavor is key, choose based on the flavors available. If you intend on eating it as a post-exercise recovery food, choose regular yogurt with fruit on the bottom as this contains more carbs and the whey protein and casein, which are the proteins that help with muscle recovery.”
And for an extra nutritional boost, you might also want to consider these options:
- Top yogurt with fruit for additional vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber (depending on the type of fruit you choose).
- Sprinkle granola on top of either variety for extra fiber. (Remember: Having fiber in your diet will make you more regular.)
- Greek yogurt can be used in some recipes, such as muffins and other baked goods, in place of certain fats.
- If you want to consume more fruits and veggies, plain Greek yogurt makes an excellent tangy dip.
Turn Greek yogurt into a great breakfast with this recipe.
A Review by our Audience:
There’s also some evidence we actually need more protein than .8 g per kg body weight. One study showed women on Calcium supplements got virtually no benefits from the supplements if they didn’t have at least 62 g of protein in their diet. If you’re on a plant-based diet (vegetarian), and particularly if you’re vegan, you probably need more than a gram of protein per kg body weight because plant protein isn’t well-absorbed.
I have personal experience with this since I was vegan and semi-vegan for years and developed a pretty severe protein deficiency. Making sure you’re getting all your amino acids is important too. Unless you really know what you’re doing you have to constantly pay attention to your diet if you’re not eating much animal protein, which can be difficult when life gets busy.