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Why Yogurt Is a Perfect Weight Loss Food

It's soured, spoiled and riddled with bacteria. It's basically moldy milk. And it's proof that a little bad can do the body a whole lotta good.
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In fact, there's a growing body of research to suggest a daily serving (at least!) of fermented dairy like yogurt can do wonders for weight loss. Here are seven waist-whittling, muscle-toning reasons to grab a spoon and go-gurt on the regular:

It's a Cravings Crusher.

Protein is the secret ingredient to a snack that satisfies, researchers say. And yogurt may be the ultimate between-meal munchie. Women who indulged in a high-protein snack of yogurt in the afternoon reported greater feelings of satiety and ate 100 fewer calories at dinner than snackers served crackers or chocolate, according to a study in the journal Nutrition. And the higher the protein content of yogurt, the greater its influence on appetite control, research suggests. So reach for strained Greek or Icelandic Skyr varieties that provide two to three times the protein punch of regular.

It's Weight Loss Dynamite.

Bacteria are rarely considered a weight-loss ally. Let's face it, the bad bugs can leave you seriously bloated. But the good bacteria—probiotics—may keep you seriously svelte. In fact, women who consumed probiotics—the same strand and amount found in one serving of yogurt—lost nearly twice as much weight as women taking a placebo, according to one study. Researchers say probiotics in yogurt may strengthen the lining of the gut, keeping inflammatory molecules associated with obesity out of the blood.

It's a Maintenance Must-have.

You've lost the weight. Now the real challenge: keeping it off. Yogurt can help, researchers say. In fact, former dieters who ate at least three daily servings of dairy maintained their weight loss while consuming 11 percent more calories than people who consumed less than one serving per day, according to one study. Interestingly, the effect was limited to food; calcium supplements didn't prevent weight regain. Researchers attribute the results to enzyme inhibitors and amino acids unique to dairy protein, which act synergistically with calcium to boost fat-burning.

It Makes Any Diet More Effective.

If vitamin D were your diet coach, he'd say something like: I'll see your 5-pound weight loss goal and raise you another 5 pounds. That's because supplementing with the nutrient, especially when you're low in the sunshine vitamin, may enhance the effects of a reduced-calorie diet, a recent study suggests. Dieters who supplemented with vitamin D lost nearly three times as much weight as a group on the same diet who didn't get the boost. And low-fat yogurt, especially when fortified, is one of the best dietary sources.

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It's a Staple of the Healthiest People on Earth.

Think of the healthiest person you know. There's a good chance you'll find yogurt in their fridge. Compared with non-consumers, people who eat at least one serving of low-fat yogurt daily tend to weigh less, have smaller waists and follow healthier diets overall, according to a recent study. They also have lower levels of bad cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin resistance. Study authors say micronutrients in yogurt, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and the B vitamins, help improve diet quality and keep your metabolism going strong.

It's a Belt Shrinker.

Your bodybuilder friends will tell you it can't be done: Build lean muscle and drop fat at the same time. Yogurt fans know otherwise. In fact, women who ate 6-7 servings of dairy as part of a 16-week diet and exercise program lost twice as much belly fat as a group who ate less than a single serving. And while the Greek-yogurt goddesses gained one and a half pounds of lean, sexy muscle, their low-dairy sisters lost as much muscle on the same program. Study authors say it's a combination of calcium, vitamin D and potent amino acids found in dairy that speed up fat burning and help retain lean muscle mass, making yogurt the ultimate body recomposition food.

It's the Ultimate Late-night Snack.

It's every lazy person's dream come true: A late-night snack that's proven to boost metabolism and tone your muscles while you sleep. Oh, and you'll wake up less hungry, too. It's the whey and casein protein in yogurt that makes it the ultimate midnight munchie, researchers say. A pre-bed snack that included 40 grams of casein protein (about what you'll find in two servings of Greek yogurt) increased protein synthesis (aka muscle building) at rates that were 22 percent higher than a placebo, according to one study.

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