Is Yogurt Keto-Friendly?

Yogurt has universally been regarded as a super food among dairy products. It has been around for more than 4,000 years and has established itself as a replenisher of good gut bacteria and a replanter of the intestines.

Live prebiotic yogurt delivers a whole host of live cultures to provide beneficial microflora to the large intestine. But how appropriate is it on the keto diet?

In this article we provide the definitive guide to yogurt and the ketogenic diet. We’ll discover when and how to add yogurt to your diet, precisely how it benefits your body and how to choose the best brands. We’ll even show you how to make your own delicious yogurt and provide some great recipes with it and other dairy products.

Yogurt Primer

 Yogurt gets created by combining friendly bacteria cultures (probioitcs) to cow, sheep or goat’s milk. It is then left to ferment for between eight and ten hours. During fermentation, the milk sugar, or lactose, in the mixture, transmits a tart sour flavor and a thick, custard-like consistency. In fact, the word yogurt comes from the Turkish ‘yoghurmak’, which means ‘to thicken.’

Yogurt has been a part of the Asian, Middle Eastern, Russian and Eastern European diets for many centuries.  It has only been in the last few decades, however, that the many benefits of consuming lactic acid producing bacteria have been revealed.

Yogurt has an abundance of health giving nutrients, including calcium. It is considered to be an integral part of the Ayurvedic diet in India.

A note of caution: When serving up yogurt, you should not use aluminum pans or bowls as the high acid content may react negatively with the aluminum.

For the greatest health benefits, you should use organic yogurts that contain live cultures of bacteria. When creating yogurt-based recipes, you should whisk rather than blend the ingredients. When you mix it up in a blender, it is likely to break up and liquefy. It is far better to gently whisk it or fold it into the mixture.

Yogurt has a high protein count; it also has the ability to alleviate intestinal bloating, stomach problems and even relieve conditions like constipation and diarrhea. Yogurt will also make the immune system stronger by boosting probiotics, which are the beneficial microflora (good bacteria) in the intestines.

People who are taking antibiotics, which are known to destroy good bacteria, will especially benefit from eating yogurt.

Yogurt has been shown to protect the intestinal tract as well as increasing the body’s resistance to such immune related diseases as cancer, and gastro-intestinal infection.

Yogurt can also help with bad breath. In fact, consuming just 3.2 ounces, or 90 grams, of yogurt two times per day will help to ease bad breath. This happens because yogurt reduces the levels of hydrogen sulfide and other volatile compounds. It also helps to get rid of tongue coating bacteria and reduces plaque formation, cavities and the risk of gingivitis.

A bacteria contained in yogurt, Lactobacillus acidophilus, binds to the cholesterol in the intestine. This stops it from being absorbed into the bloodstream and makes it a great food choice to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Scientists tell us that consuming yogurt every day may decrease the risk of heart disease by 7-10 percent.

Eating yogurt has also been found to help prevent vaginal yeast infections. Probiotic yogurt can also be very helpful for people who have a diminished appetite. This may include cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Probiotic yogurt also helps people who are struggling with chronic diarrhea. The lactobacillus in the yogurt binds to the walls of the large intestine in order to fight off bad bacteria.

Yogurt has a similar effect on the digestive tract as fiber. In fact, yogurt that contains bifidophilus bacteria is a suitable substitute for fiber. The Probiotic version also has been shown to help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.  It does this by increasing the number of friendly bacteria and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

Probiotic yogurt can be used to successfully treat Helicobacter  pylori, the bacterium responsible for most ulcers.

Yogurt can also be digested faster than other foods. That’s because it delivers a lot of enzymatic activity it takes about an hour to digest. This compares with about three hours for other dairy products. It can even help people who have trouble digesting other milk products.

It is believed that yogurt has the ability to help with weight loss by reducing body fat levels while also minimizing muscle loss, making it great for bodybuilders. It is also thought that the calcium in this food inhibits the ability of fat cells to store fat, forcing the body to burn more fat cells for energy.

According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  full fat yogurt may significantly reduce a person’s risk for colorectal cancer. The full fat version also includes the suspected cancer preventatives conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which also happens to be very good for your heart health.

Go even more in depth on this subject with the world’s leading medical information portal here.

Nutritional Profile

An 8-ounce serving of low-fat yogurt adds the following to your diet:

  • Carbohydrate – 17.15 grams
  • Fat – 4 grams
  • Protein – 12 grams
  • Cholesterol – 14.95 mg
  • Zinc – 2.18 mg
  • Calcium – 450 mg
  • Sodium – 104 mg
  • Magnesium – 42.75 mg
  • Potassium – 572.8 mg

A cup of yogurt provides 12 grams of protein. That makes it a good food choice for vegetarians. It also includes healthy dosages of B complex, calcium, potassium, iodine, phosphorous and folate.

What About Greek Yogurt?

So, how does Greek Yogurt compare to the standard version in terms of being keto-friendly? Here is the nutritional breakdown based on a 100-gram serving:

  • Calories – 59
  • Carbohydrates – 3.6 grams
  • Fats – 0.4 grams
  • Proteins – 10 grams

A bottle of Greek yogurt usually contains about 170 grams. That will give you 100 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 0.7 grams of fat and 17 grams of protein.

A half cup will also provide you with the following minerals (RDA %age in brackets)

  • Calcium (11 %)
  • Cobalamin (13 %)
  • Vitamin B6 (5 %)
  • Potassium (4 %)
  • Magnesium (2 %)

By comparing regular and Greek yogurt, we can see that the Greek version has more calcium and potassium. But, far more importantly for those on the keto diet, it’s also significantly higher in sodium and carb count. There is also less sodium, sugar and a lower calorie count in the Greek version.

Is Yogurt Keto Friendly?

Having taken a close look at the nutritional profiles what can we conclude about yogurt? Is it keto-friendly? The answer is yes, but you need to confine yourself to Greek yogurt. That is because it has way less of a carb count and less sodium than the regular version. On the ketogenic diet, you will be limiting yourself to 20 or fewer grams of carbs per day. A 100 gram serving will eat up 3.6 of those grams. of carbs That’s a pretty good use of those carbs when you consider the huge health benefits that come with this food.

We suggest limiting yourself to half a pottle of Greek Yogurt each day on the keto diet. Because every brand differs in its nutritional make-up, be sure to check the nutrition label. Add flavor to by including fresh keto friendly berries such as blackberries, blueberries or strawberries. You can also add chia seeds, coconut or heavy whipping cream.

What to Look For

When shopping for yogurt to support your keto diet, you should go for a brand that contains the live organisms Lacto-bacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermopholis. The vast majority made in the United States are made using these organisms.

If you are lactose intolerant, you should stay away from cow milk yogurt. Test your tolerance to sheep or goat’s milk.

Always check the expiration date of the yogurt you are buying to make sure that it is still fresh.

Store bought yogurt has typically been pumped full of sugars and artificial flavouring that’s not compatible with the keto diet. You are far better off buying a product that’s made from organic milk and that contains friendly bacteria from live, active cultures.

You should stay away from yogurts that have been produced with pasteurized milk. The high heat required for the pasteurization process will kill the good lactic acid bacteria, negating much of the health potency of this food.

Make sure that any yogurt you put into your body contains the live organisms Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermopholis. Stay far away from any products that contain artificial colors, flavorings, or sweeteners, and fruit filled yogurts that can contain added refined sugar.

Store yogurt in the refrigerator. An unopened pottle will remain fresh for up to 7 days after its expiration date so long as it remains refrigerated.

 Make Your Own Yogurt

 You can make your own yogurt with the aid of an electric yogurt maker. This is quite an inexpensive item which will make the process so much easier for you. With a yogurt maker, you will be able to prepare your ingredients before you go to bed and then wake up to a delicious batch of yogurt in the morning.

Here’s what you will need to make your own yogurt . . .

  • Kitchen
  • Thermometer
  • Yogurt maker with glass or ceramic cups
  • 1–2 quarts organic cow or goat milk (use low-fat, skim, or whole milk, but in general the higher the milk-  fat level the creamier the yogurt will be)
  • Small plain container plain
  • Unsweetened yogurt with live cultures or a yogurt starter you can purchase from your local health-food store

Instructions

  • Heat the milk in a ceramic saucepan to about 170ºF–180ºF. Use your thermometer to check the temperature.  This is done to kill any harmful bacteria that might be in the milk and to change the milk protein in a way that allows it to culture and firm up. Stir the milk continuously and watch carefully so the temperature does not exceed 180ºF. You will need to sterilize your containers by pouring boiling water into them, letting them sit for 5 minutes, then discarding the hot water.
  • When the temperature in the milk reaches 170ºF–180ºF, turn off the burner and continue to stir it until it cools. Stirring the milk for another 2–3 minutes will prevent the milk from scorching the bottom of your pan.
  • When the milk has cooled to 105ºF– 110ºF, first mix the plain yogurt in its container to a smooth consistency then add it to the pot of warm milk. Stir it for a few minutes while the yogurt dissolves into the milk. This will allow the beneficial bacteria to spread throughout the milk and begin to grow.
  • Pour the inoculated milk into the sterilized containers and place the containers into the yogurt maker.
  • Follow the maker’s instructions for fermentation time, but normally it takes about 6 hours to set up.
  • After about 6 hours, the yogurt should be firm. You can test it by gently turning the container to see if it keeps its shape.
  • There will be some whey liquid on the top that you can either pour off or just mix into the yogurt before you eat it.
  • Cap each yogurt container and refrigerate. They will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can use one of these live yogurts as a starter for your next batch, but you must do so within 5–7 days. You can also freeze a container of the fresh yogurt then let it thaw before inoculating your next batch of the sterilized milk.

Making Greek Yogurt

To create the type of yogurt known as Greek-style yogurt, all you need to do is line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it in a medium-size bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth and  place the bowl with strainer in the refrigerator. Let the yogurt drain overnight, and in the morning you will have the most wonderful thick, creamy yogurt to use as a sour cream substitute or simply enjoy with fruit for your breakfast.

Serving Suggestions

  • Add regular plain yogurt to grains after cooking to make them easier to digest.
  • Use plain yogurt in combination with sweet vegetables such as beets or carrots to make delicious cream soups that can be served either hot or cold.
  • Combine plain yogurt with minced cucumber and dill and serve as a side dish with spicy foods.
  • Add heavy cream or sour cream for a dessert treat you will love.
  • Layer plain or sweetened yogurt with ripe fruit and jam in a tall parfait glass and serve as a light dessert.
  • Whisk plain yogurt together with extra-virgin olive oil, white-wine vinegar, a pinch of sweetener, and your favorite dried herb and serve as a salad dressing or over steamed vegetables.
  • Substitute plain yogurt for milk and serve over your favorite cold cereal or granola mixture. Top with fresh berries or sliced ripe banana for a real breakfast treat.
  • Replace full-fat sour cream with low-fat creamy yogurt as a topping for baked potatoes. Sprinkle with chives or chopped green onions, a dash of your favorite dried herb, and some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Use yogurt to replace heavy cream to thicken sauces. Add the yogurt at the end of the cooking process and remove from the heat, letting the sauce sit for a moment while the yogurt absorbs the flavors.
  • Due to yogurt’s high acidity content, it makes an excellent tenderizing marinade for meat, lamb, and poultry.
  • Try using yogurt in your baked goods, to help keep the flour moist with a firm texture.

Recipes

Carrot Yogurt Soup

SERVES 8  140 calories  8 g

  • fat  14 g
  • carbohydrates  4 g
  • protein  10 g
  • sugars  2 g fiber

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 medium onion 
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed 
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric 
  • ½ teaspoon dried ginger 
  • ½ teaspoon
  • cumin  ½ teaspoon sea salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne 
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 pound carrots 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 2 cups low-fat plain yogurt 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh
  • dill, or 1 teaspoon dried  1 tablespoon honey 
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Method

  • Chop onion; mince garlic. In a large soup pot, sauté onion  and garlic in oil until soft.
  • Add mustard seed, tumeric, ginger, cumin, sea salt, cayenne, coconut and cinnamon.
  • Cook for several minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Slice carrots; add to soup pot with lemon juice and water.
  • Cover tightly; simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Purée cooked carrots and cooking liquid using a blender  wand, or purée in batches in a blender; return to cooking pot.
  • Add a small amount of carrot purée to yogurt, warming it  slowly; whisk yogurt, dill, honey, and black pepper into carrot purée.
  • Heat mixture on low, but do not boil. Ladle into soup bowls and add a fresh dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of dill for color.

Crunchy Peach Parfait

SERVES 1  660 calories

  • 27 g fat
  • 81 g carbohydrates
  • 25 g protein
  • 56 g sugars
  • 9 g fiber

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 cup plain yogurt 
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup 
  • 6 walnut halves 
  • 1 cup fresh sliced peaches 
  • ½ cup granola

Method

  • Spoon yogurt into a small bowl; add vanilla and maple syrup;  mix well.
  • Lightly chop walnuts into large pieces; set aside.
  • In a long-stemmed parfait glass, begin with a layer of yogurt, then sliced peaches, and finally the granola. Repeat layering to top of glass.
  • Sprinkle walnuts on top and serve chilled.

Important Cooking Note: The beneficial bacteria in yogurt can be destroyed by high temperatures. When cooking with yogurt, do not add to a boiling mixture. Instead, stir a small amount of the hot ingredients into the yogurt in small increments, allowing the yogurt to warm gradually. To complete, gently stir the warmed yogurt into the hot mixture.

Want more recipes? Watch this video for some great yogurt recipes.

FAQ

Can you eat full fat yogurt on the ketogenic diet?

Yes, you can definitely eat full fat yogurt on the ketogenic diet. In fact, the more fat that it contains, the better. Focus on a Greek version that’s low in carbs and has no artificial additives.

Which yogurt is lowest in carbs?

Greek yogurt is the lowest version that is available.

What foods are not allowed on the keto diet?

On the ketogenic diet you will want to limit your daily carbohydrate count to twenty or fewer grams per day. As a result you will want to avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates and that are high on the glycemic index. Focus on healthy fats, lean proteins and green leafy vegetables.

Is whole milk Keto friendly?

No, whole milk is not keto friendly. That is because it contains quite a lot of sugar and carbs. In fact, a cup of full milk provides you with a whopping 12 grams of sugar. That is more than half of your daily requirement of 20 grams! If you are lucky, however, you may be able to find a low carb version of cow’s milk, which would be compatible.

What if I am lactose intolerant?

If you are lactose intolerant you should avoid yogurt that is made with cow’s milk. Experiment with sheep and goat’s milk to see which works best for you.

What is a good alternative to yogurt?

A great keto friendly alternative is cheddar cheese. Cheddar cheese provides you with 1 gram of carbs, and 7 grams of protein. You can also eat have heavy whipping cream, sour cream, coconut and any of the other nuts that you love.

Conclusion

Yogurt is a tremendous food which delivers all sorts of health benefits on the keto diet, especially as they relate to your gut microbiome. When it comes to the keto diet, however, you need to limit yourself to the Greek version of this so called super food that. Confine yourself to no more then have a bottle of milk yogurt per day and you will be able to enjoy this health boosting, delicious treat without the carbs. Add heavy cream or sour cream, sprinkled with coconut for a dessert treat that you will love.

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