The 20 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss, Say Dietitians
Packed with metabolism-revving protein and overflowing with gut-healthy probiotics, yogurt has all the makings of one of the very best weight-loss foods around. In fact, a 2014 study in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases found that adults who ate more than seven servings of yogurt per week were less likely to be overweight or obese than those who ate two or fewer servings per week.
But tread carefully in the aisle of fermented milk products. Manufacturers have a knack for cramming as much sugar into yogurt as they do candy bars—all while marketing their products as the picture of health.
The good news is that we're here to help! We asked dietitians for their expert advice on how to choose the healthiest yogurts. Whether you're looking for a low-fat, full-fat, or sippable yogurt, the next time you find yourself discombobulated in the dairy section, refer to this handy guide of the best yogurts for weight loss.
How yogurt can help you lose weight.
"While no one food is responsible for weight loss, yogurt can be a great addition to a balanced diet that can ultimately help you lose weight," says Elizabeth Matchett, RDN, CD, a registered dietitian and nutrition coach at NapTown Fitness.
There are multiple different ways that eating yogurt contributes to weight loss:
- It's rich in satiating macronutrients. "Yogurt is high in protein (some varieties higher than others) and can be low in fat, but it is still a good source of energy and can keep you full and satisfied," says Matchett. Greek yogurt, in particular, is great for weight loss due to its high protein content. Eating protein-rich Greek yogurt helps to control appetite, which leads to consuming fewer calories later on, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal.
- Yogurt is one of the best probiotic foods. The fermented dairy product also contains probiotics that help foster a healthy gut, which research shows can encourage weight loss and fat loss.
- You can use yogurt as a nutrient-dense substitute for high-calorie ingredients. "Yogurt can also aid in weight loss as it is often replacing other high-calorie meals, such as a buttery bagel for breakfast. Whether decked out in a parfait, substituted for heavy cream in a sauce or whipped into salad dressings, yogurt is the perfect low-calorie substitute to jazz up your favorite dish and cut the calories!" dietitian Bonnie Balk, RD, a Health & Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics tells Eat This, Not That!
How we chose the best yogurts for weight loss.
"Yogurt has all sorts of ways to help you lose weight; however, some yogurts are better than others for weight loss," says dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, who serves on the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living.
When selecting the best yogurt brands for weight loss, we made sure our choices met specific nutritional criteria:
- It should be low in fat. Although fat can help you feel full and satiated, it also adds extra calories. "If you're trying to control your calorie intake for weight loss, opt for low-fat or non-fat yogurts," says Kostro Miller.
- Opt for a sugar-free yogurt or one with no added sugars. "Because the lactose in dairy is a natural form of sugar, some sugar is fine, but you want to make sure that there hasn't been a lot of sugar added on top of that," says dietitian Sarah Marjoram, MS, RDN, LD. The healthiest yogurt will have little to no added sugar.
- Look for high protein yogurts. "Protein helps you stay full for several hours, so getting enough protein can prevent early hunger, which is good for someone who is trying really hard to control their calories," says Kostro Miller. "While yogurt, in general, is a good source of protein, Greek yogurt varieties have around double the amount of protein as regular yogurt, which will help keep you full and satisfied," adds Matchett.
Each of our "Eat This!" picks are also free from artificial sweeteners, colors, and additives, and are the lowest sugar options in each of their categories.
If you stick to our best yogurts for weight loss, the stubborn pounds and belly fat are sure to melt away.
Not just great-tasting, Siggi's is one of the lowest-sugar vanilla yogurts on the market. "With just 9 grams of sugar, it barely has any added sugars, as yogurt itself naturally contains about 6 grams. As opposed to most other vanilla-flavored Greek yogurts, with about 15-20 grams per serving, a moderate 9 grams of sugar in Siggi's is the winner," says Balk. The Icelandic yogurt is strained more than Greek varieties, which also ups the protein content.
While it's not technically a sugar-free yogurt (because dairy naturally contains sugars), Fage Total are all no-sugar-added. You can't get a much purer ingredient list than this: milk, cream, and live, active probiotic cultures.
Stephanie Nelson, RD, in-house nutrition expert and nutrition scientist at MyFitnessPal, prefers 2% Greek yogurts to nonfat because they tend to be more satiating and have a thicker, creamier texture.
"Lowfat yogurts are a good compromise between the lower-calorie benefits of nonfat yogurt and the better-tasting whole-milk yogurts," she explains. "And Greek yogurts in general are great for weight loss because they are higher in protein, which helps preserve muscle mass while you lose fat."
This all-natural yogurt is not only protein- and calcium-rich but contains no added sugar, additives, or preservatives. As it's unflavored, you can use it in smoothies, as a sour cream replacement, dips, cooking, baking, or even as your dessert!
If you want a high-protein yogurt but don't like the tart taste of Greek yogurt, try Icelandic Provisions' skyr. The Icelandic heirloom cultures Icelandic Provisions uses help transform their dairy base into a creamy, decadent yogurt. This vanilla skyr will fill you up with an impressive amount of protein for the fewest grams of added sugar.
The healthiest yogurts, like Chobani's Plain Greek yogurt, have low sugar content and are packed with plenty of satiating protein. Julie Upton, RD, co-founder of Appetite for Health, recommends reaching for plain Greek yogurt when you're trying to slim down.
She loves Chobani's because it's just 80 calories, but is triple strained to have a rich, thick and creamy texture. It also contains 14 grams of high-quality protein to keep you full for hours, and since it's unflavored, it has zero grams of added sugar. (Pro tip: you can add flavor to yogurt for far fewer calories by mixing in your own fruit, nuts, and seeds.)
Chobani's yogurt contains live and active cultures, and three different types of probiotics to keep your gut happy. As an added bonus, it has less than 5% lactose, making it an ideal pick for those who have to adhere to a low-lactose diet.
"It's important to pay special attention to the quality of the yogurt you consume," she notes — and she loves Stonyfield's Greek yogurt because it has no added sugar but a whopping 16 grams of satiating protein.
"All these characteristics are ideal for weight loss and overall health as it provides no empty calories and plenty of protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied, which prevents overeating," Best explains.
It's also organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and contains not one but five different strains of live active cultures.
It's hard to find flavored yogurts that are low in carbs and sugar—but this one fits the bill. That's why Patricia Kolesa, RDN, a dietitian with Hackensack Meridian Health calls it one of the best yogurts for weight loss.
With just 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of sugar, and 80 calories per serving, it still packs a notable 12 grams of protein and multiple strains of active cultures. Best of all, this yogurt is flavored with lemon juice, fruit and vegetable juice, and stevia — and contains no aspartame, sucralose, or acesulfame-k.
If you like flavored yogurts, Matchett recommends Wallaby Organic Aussie Greek No Sugar Added yogurt. "It currently comes in two fun flavors and is sweetened with fruit concentrates [rather than added sugars]," she says. So, again, while technically not a sugar-free yogurt, Wallaby is added sugar-free. Wallaby also offers countless plain low-fat Greek yogurt flavors. They're all tasty middle-of-the-road offerings for those who don't want to commit to the calories of a whole-milk-based yogurt, but like the idea of reaping extra nutrients from a bit of milk fat.
Maple Hill Creamery's yogurts are made just two ingredients: grass-fed milk and live cultures. That difference in milk might be reflected in the price, but it's well worth the extra cents if you can afford it. "Grass-fed yogurt contains more omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids, both of which help prevent heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and various cancers," registered dietitian Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD, CDN explains. That's why grass-fed milk makes the healthiest yogurt. Bonus: Maple Hill Greek yogurts are rich, creamy and taste way more decadent than they are.
Vitamin D-fortified dairy products, like this plain yogurt from Dannon, help the body absorb bone-protecting calcium.
Although there is no naturally-occurring fiber in yogurt, Dannon's addition of chicory root fiber allows the yogurt's six grams of naturally-occurring sugar to be matched with an equal amount of digestion-slowing fiber. The source of fiber, chicory root, is a source of inulin, a prebiotic that may help feed those live active probiotic cultures and can help minimize spikes in insulin after a carb-heavy meal.
Without a doubt, this traditional Icelandic yogurt tops the list when it comes to protein content, with a staggering 19 grams per serving.
When you're aiming to lose weight, Kolesa advises always looking for products that contain less than 10 grams of added sugar, and more than 10 grams of protein — and since this yogurt definitely checks those boxes, she gives it her stamp of approval.
The beauty of this yogurt lies in its simplicity: the only ingredients are pasteurized skim milk and live active cultures.
And by the way — it makes a phenomenal healthy substitute for sour cream, or for milk in baking recipes.
It can be hard to find a Greek-style yogurt that your tummy can handle if you're lactose intolerant. That's why Chobani introduced this new line of yogurts — which is lactose-free, yet still super high in protein. It's also worth noting that, unlike many other Greek yogurts, Chobani Complete offers 3 grams of filling fiber, which can further help to stave off mindless snacking between meals.
Not only is this yogurt easy to digest, but it contains both prebiotics and billions of probiotics to support digestive and immune health. It contains no artificial sweeteners, and instead, gets its tasty flavor from real vanilla extract, natural flavors, monk fruit extract, and stevia leaf extract. Did we mention that it provides all nine essential amino acids as well as 10% of your daily value for calcium? Now that's what we call complete.
If you want to enjoy Noosa, be sure to pick a flavor that comes in a 4-ounce container. If you can't find these smaller packaged yogurts, you could end up consuming over 30 grams of sugar before breakfast!
As far as fruit-flavored yogurts go, Chobani's Less Sugar line is a safe bet. Especially since it's so rare to find a fruit-flavored yogurt with more protein than sugar. This one's also gluten-free, kosher, and free of artificial ingredients. Pick some up if you haven't been able to give up on your fruit-flavored yogurts, but we'd always recommend a plain Greek yogurt with real blueberries before any pre-packaged container.
If you're choosing plain, Oikos gets the green light from us. Low sugar, high protein: that's the winning combo in any yogurt.
Brown Cow Farms makes a great cream-on-top yogurt because they keep things simple and basic. As a general rule, we recommend choosing brands that have a short ingredient list. Brown Cow's non-GMO Greek yogurt contains just two ingredients plus cultures.
It's not the healthiest yogurt, and it's not even our second pick (you can see where it actually ranks in our ultimate ranking of vanilla yogurts), but this is your best option if you're a die-hard traditional Yoplait yogurt fan. (Especially since their other lines are riddled with artificial sweeteners.) Their Original French Vanilla has reasonable calorie, fat, and protein counts. However, because it is still fairly high in sugar, don't rely on this container to keep you full all morning. To counteract the high sugar count, we recommend pairing it with digestion-slowing, high-fiber chia seeds.
The best drinkable yogurts for weight loss
Compared to other drinkable yogurts on the market, Chobani has churned out a drink that has about 33 percent less sugar. Not only is it lower in sugar than their competitors, but it also contains belly-filling fiber and 10 grams of muscle-building protein. With its moderately high sugar count, it may still be good to keep this drink to a post or pre-workout snack.
This tangy, sippable yogurt—called "filmjölk"—is surprisingly filling. We recommended this pick as either an on-the-go snack or breakfast addition.
Kefir is 99 percent lactose-free, making it a great yogurt alternative for those with lactose intolerance. This tangy drinkable yogurt is easy to eat on the go and is loaded with 16 grams of protein. Whether or not you can handle dairy, throw it into your shopping cart to mix up your morning routine!
A previous version of this article was originally published on November 5, 2019.
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