Yogurt is the perfect grab-and-go snack. You can enjoy it as is, or you can make your own yogurt parfait with granola, fruit, and nuts. And because yogurt is made by fermenting milk, it contains live and active cultures that can help improve your gut health.
Unfortunately, some yogurts aren't as healthy as others. Many companies sell yogurts that are full of added sugar and very little protein, but still, try to market them as "healthy." If you're someone who is trying to lose or manage your weight and enjoy eating yogurt as a snack, these more unhealthy varieties can easily derail your goals if they're consumed on a regular basis.
"The best yogurt for belly fat would be a low-fat variety without added sugar, or very little sugar", says Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our medical expert advisory board. "Many yogurts contain far too much added sugar which may contribute to belly fat."
For example, Yoplait Whips! comes with 18 grams of added sugar and Dannon Fruit on the Bottom has 15 grams, both clocking in at anywhere between 21 and 22 total grams of sugar (which includes the natural sugar in yogurt and fruit)! And The Greek Gods Honey Greek Style Yogurt has 15 grams of added sugar for a total of 23 grams of sugar, even though Greek yogurts are known for being healthier and lower in sugar.
Read on to learn more about how too much added sugar can contribute to excess fat around the abdominal area, and for more healthy eating tips check out 6 Best High-Protein Foods for Weight Loss.
How a low-sugar yogurt can help with belly fat
It's important to first note that when talking about the effects of added sugar on belly fat, we are referring to larger quantities consumed on a consistent basis. We recognize that eating a sugary yogurt from time to time is not going to cause belly fat, but eating a diet high in added sugar and consuming sugar-sweetened yogurt regularly can contribute to excess fat around the stomach over time.
One way that added sugar can contribute to belly fat is that sugar can get stored as fat in the body when consumed in excess. Added sugars are much more prevalent in our food supply than they once were. In fact, there has been a 25% increase in added sugars in our food supply in the 30 years since 1970, according to a The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article. The same article states that if your liver begins to overflow with fructose, one of the simple sugars found in added sugar, it will eventually turn into fat.
Eating foods that are high in added sugar, especially if they're also low in protein and fiber, will almost always leave you feeling full and less satisfied. According to a report published in Appetite, this may result in further snacking or eating afterward.
Protein can help, too
Looking for a low-sugar yogurt that can help you satisfy cravings while keeping your added sugar count low? Another helpful tip is looking for a low-sugar yogurt that is also high in protein.
Protein has been known to help with weight loss by maintaining a well-functioning metabolism and keeping you full longer, and studies have also found that it can help specifically with abdominal fat, too.
For a high-protein, low-sugar yogurt, try something like Yoplait YQ Protein Yogurt, which has only 1 gram of added sugar and a whopping 17 grams of protein. "I also really like the FAGE 2% with the honey pouch on the side, because you can control how much to add," says Young.