A lot of people ask me about yogurts and wonder if they can have full-fat, low-fat, or no-sugar-added Greek yogurt. When using a simple system like I teach, you want to really focus on the total carbohydrate content of any food that has a label or is in a box or a bag.
Read the label on “keto” yogurts
Look at the yogurt’s total carbohydrates. Don’t look at the label saying, “Great for keto diets” or keto branded products. Don’t get hoodwinked by any of those things. Some may be okay, but most of them typically aren’t. You want to look at the total carbohydrate grams. It’s not that they’re wrong or bad, it’s just that the prescription strength keto diet uses total carb calculation, staying under 20 to 30 grams for the day. If someone comes to my office to reverse diabetes or obesity, I’ll keep people at 20 total grams for the whole day. Using net carbs and using internet keto methods might work for you, but when people come to my clinic, they want it to work the first time, every time. To do that, I use 20 total carbs as the limitation.
Can I eat low-fat yogurts on a keto diet?
The concept of low-fat yogurts came about because of the idea that low-fat diets would fix everything. The idea was if you limited fat because there are more calories in fat than in carbs or protein, you would have weight loss. It was thought that if people would just eat less fat, they would lose weight. The problem with that is if someone ate more carbs than the fat calories they restricted, they had more calories from the carbs, then they would actually gain weight. In the 1990s and early 2000s, people restricted fat but had unlimited or more carbs and ended up gaining weight. We have the largest diabetes and obesity epidemic ever as a result of telling people not to have fat. Don’t be persuaded by low-fat labeling, go right to the carbohydrates.
One of the low-fat yogurts I found contains 32 grams of carbohydrates. Another contains 25 grams. That’s a lot and it’s only for one serving. Be careful, sometimes the label will say 25 grams, but the container might be two servings – if you add the whole container, that would actually be 50 grams of carbohydrates. The low-fat yogurt containing the least amount of carbohydrates I could find was 15 grams of carbs. That’s still pretty high when you’re looking at staying under 20 or 30 carbs for the whole day. Don’t get persuaded by the low-fat language anymore, but then don’t be persuaded by the keto language either.
Full-fat vs low-fat yogurts
Looking at a full-fat or full-fat Greek yogurt, I see a carbohydrate content of 8 total grams. That’s lower than any of the low-fat ones out there. In our local area, there are some brands that are low enough in carbs, say 3-4 grams per serving, which would be acceptable if you could stick to one serving for that yogurt because you’re moderating the number of carbohydrates. Full-fat yogurts actually are better than low-fat yogurts in terms of carbohydrates but still, always look at the label. Check out the label, and then that brand is going to be pretty reliable.
Beware of added sugar!
If there is added sugar, that’s not good. Be sure to find the “no sugar added” or “low-carb full-fat yogurt” and always check the label on the product to ensure that the carbs are super low. I remember one person came back having purchased many products under the assumption that “lite” meant that it didn’t have sugar in it when actually it had a lot of sugar in it depending on the product and the labeling.
Practice makes perfect
A “keto” label doesn’t necessarily mean low in carbs or low enough in carbs for a prescription-strength keto diet. Always be vigilant, at least the first time you look at those kinds of products so you get familiar with the different brands. After doing this for over 20 years now, I have to confess that I stay mainly to zero-carb foods so that I don’t really have to worry about counting carbs. The idea or the need for something sweet fades away over time. Remember, alternative sweeteners are okay to get you off sugar, but after a while, even the things that didn’t taste sweet before start tasting sweet as your taste buds wake up.
Full-fat yogurts should be fine, just make sure they don’t have sugar in them and always watch the carbohydrates. Rather stay away from low-fat and “keto” yourts.
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