Best Yogurt Combinations For Stronger Muscles, Says Dietitian
Yogurt is one of the simplest protein-packed snacks or breakfasts. That's especially the case when you top yogurt with healthy ingredients that provide a boost in satiety power, beneficial micronutrients, and fuel for your muscles.
Even if you're not looking to bulk up in the gym, it's still important to eat a diet that's rich in nutrients that support muscle development, especially as you get older. "We lose 3-8% of our muscle mass each decade after age 30, so it's very important to support our muscle mass through both our diets and physical activity," explains registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.
Protein is essential for maintaining muscular strength, which is why Greek yogurt is a popular option; Greek yogurt is rich in protein, offering 16 grams in an average 5.3-ounce serving, which will get you close to the recommended protein intake to build and support muscle maintenance.
"Consume 25-35 grams of protein with each meal, plus extra by snacking in the day for optimal muscle maintenance and refueling after exercise," Harris-Pincus suggests.
But if you really want what's best for your muscles, eating protein alone isn't enough. Your body needs additional nutrients besides protein to replenish and satisfy muscles, as well as repair damaged muscle fibers and tissue—which happens with exercise, especially strenuous forms, like HIIT and weight-bearing workouts.
"We need heart-healthy fats, like the kind found in avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, and enough calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, and potassium," Harris-Pincus says, which is why yogurt combinations boost yogurt's nutritional value and potency to prevent loss in bone and muscle mass with age.
Here are 6 dietitian-approved yogurt combinations that will benefit the body and protect and strengthen bones and muscles. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.
Yogurt + Berries + Almonds
"The combo of yogurt, nuts, and berries is a fabulous way to enjoy a satisfying and creamy, crunchy snack. This yogurt combination contains dairy and plant protein, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats, along with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium," says Harris-Pincus.
Berries are the lowest sugar fruits, and antioxidant-rich fruit can help decrease inflammation in the body to speed muscle recovery and promote a healthier body with stronger bones and muscles.
Yogurt + Quinoa
"Muscle building protein is also found in plant foods, and quinoa has the most plant-based protein of any grain (though it's actually a seed)," says Harris-Pincus. Quinoa is a high-fiber complex carbohydrate that gives muscles energy in the form of glycogen for greater endurance and stamina.
Together, these two ingredients will keep your muscles happy, but you can include a piece of fruit, either fresh or frozen.
Yogurt + Chickpeas + Pumpkin Seeds
"Drizzle olive oil on top with sprinkled salt and pepper for seasoning," suggests Harris-Pincus, which builds a perfect yogurt bowl that has moisture, extra fats, and some spice and heat for enhanced flavor.
Yogurt + Pomegranates + Pistachios
This trio is a great yogurt combination that not only provides protein, fiber, and antioxidants, but it also gives your yogurt a bright, bold pop of color. "You'll get a boost of iron, magnesium, healthy fats, and plant protein, and the crunch is so satisfying," says Harris-Pincus.
"Antioxidants also speed muscle recovery and help repair damaged muscles," she adds, which are abundant in pomegranates, so sprinkle in pomegranate seeds or add a splash of pomegranate juice to yogurt.
Yogurt + Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain a good amount of fiber and healthy fat to keep you fuller longer and repair and strengthen muscles, so this 2-ingredient yogurt combination is perfect for post-workout.
"Chia seeds have heart-healthy omega-3 fats to lower inflammation and improve muscle recovery, and both potassium and magnesium to support muscle building," says Harris-Pincus. Add a serving of fruit, like blueberries, dark chocolate, or cacao nibs (darker the better for antioxidant power) or some seasoning, like ginger, if you find it bland and need more flavor.
Yogurt + Bananas + Peanut Butter
Peanut butter and banana is a classic go-to for a sandwich, but it tastes just as delicious when mixed into yogurt for a high-protein, high-fiber snack or meal that's also rich in healthy unsaturated fats to support muscle health and recovery.
"Peanut butter and bananas also provide electrolytes with potassium and magnesium to support muscle recovery and replenish energy and nutrients to fuel muscles after exercise," Harris-Pincus says.
A grocery store tip? Check the ingredient list when buying peanut butter—it should contain only peanuts and maybe salt, without other oils and additives, which aren't good for you. Or check out these The 20 Healthiest Peanut Butters—Ranked!