Is Greek Yogurt Worth The Hype?
I love fresh yogurt. But I’m very picky about what cup of probiotic goodness I eat. With the ever-expanding yogurt aisle, you may not be checking the label of each and every option available. We make your yogurt selection easier with this inside look into the cup of yogurt that has become all-too-familiar.
Real and Fake Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is still gaining ground among health conscious eaters, comprising over 35% of the fresh yogurt market. But what exactly is Greek yogurt? There is no legal definition for it, so making the Greek yogurt claim is not regulated by the FDA. Chobani, a leading Greek yogurt brand, started a marketing initiative about “real” Greek yogurt. Their tagline, “Go Real.” There are plenty of brands that tout the Greek yogurt label, but are not “real” at all. The traditional Greek yogurt process takes more time and requires about 3 times more milk to make the same amount of regular yogurt, so it's fitting that certain brands have taken a shortcut to enter the Greek yogurt market. You can tell if your Greek yogurt is the real thing by checking the ingredient list. If there are ingredients like milk protein concentrate, corn starch, gelatin or anything other than milk and yogurt cultures, you may not be eating traditionally-made processed Greek yogurt. So you know, Yoplait, Cabot, and Lucerne’s Greek yogurt all contain milk protein concentrate, and each has additional additives such as gelatin, corn starch, and whey protein concentrate.
What about Fat and Sugar?
The biggest hubbub about Greek yogurt is its higher protein content, but what about fat and sugar? Full-fat Greek yogurt has more fat and calories than regular plain yogurt. But plain yogurt may be hard to come by these days. Yoplait doesn’t even list a non-Greek plain yogurt option on their website. That said, navigating the right yogurt choice takes some extra work. If the ingredient list isn’t telling enough, look for an anomaly in what the fat and sugar content should be without all of the extras. Typically, no matter the fat content, an 8 oz. serving of plain yogurt has about 12 grams of carbs and about 9 grams of protein. Low-fat yogurt has about 2.5 grams of fat, and full-fat about 8 grams. When it comes to plain Greek yogurt, the serving is usually smaller, around 5.3 ounces, and has about 15 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar. The low-fat options, keep in mind the smaller serving size, have about 3.5 grams of fat. Full-fat Greek yogurt is hard to find plain, but Fage’s Total Classic option is a hefty 220 calories in its 8 oz. serving (thanks to the additional cream in their recipe). Most other full-fat options are offered in fruity flavors and add way more sugar than the low sugar content of the plain varieties.
Newer Yogurts on the Market
Pinkberry, the frozen yogurt chain, has entered the fresh yogurt market with its Pinkberrygreek. Their snack size is a tiny 4 oz. at 70 calories and their meal size, almost 6 ounces is 100 calories. Noosa, a brand I heard tastes like ice cream lured me into a taste test. Funny thing, the calorie count is similar to one serving of ice cream. Each package is 8 ounces, 300 calories total, but masked behind a 4 oz. serving listing – the same serving size of ice cream. The ingredient list is also similar to ice cream with milk, cream, sugar, and pectin (with a little milk protein to boot). You’ve got a small amount of protein at 6 grams, 7 grams of fat, and 18 grams of sugar – again those are the numbers for the 4 oz. serving. Multiply by two and you’re really going above and beyond your yogurt calorie allotment. If you'd tried Noosa before and remember a lower calorie count, they just offered a mea culpa about that incorrect nutritional information. We love that they've come clean.
Top Ten Yogurt Calorie Countdown
To give you a better idea of the best and worst options you’re used to seeing on the shelf, we put together a list of the nutritional information for yogurt options by brand and calorie count of course.
Non-fat Plain Greek, 8 oz. serving, 120 calories, Carbs 9g, Protein 22g
Flavored ≈5.3 oz. serving, 160 calories, Fat 4.5g, Carbs 18g, Protein 11g
No plain offered
Flavored ≈4 oz. serving, 150 calories, Fat 6g, Carbs 21g, Protein 6g
Non-fat Plain Greek, 6 oz. serving, 120 calories, Carbs 13g, Protein 15g
Greek Flavored ≈ 6oz. serving, 160 calories, Carbs 26g, Protein 12g
Original Flavored ≈6 oz. serving, 170 calories, Carbs 33g, Protein 5g
Yoplait Light(contains artificial sweeteners) 6 oz. serving, 90 calories, Carbs 16g, Protein 5g
Chobani Greek Yogurt
Non-fat Plain 6 oz. serving, 100 calories, Carbs 7g, Protein 18g
Plain Low-Fat 6 oz. serving, 130 calories, Fat 3.5g, Carbs 7g, Protein 17g
Flavored ≈6 oz. serving, 140 calories, Carbs 22g, Protein 14g
No Plain Offered
Greek Flavored ≈ 5.3 oz, 130 calories, Carbs 19g, Protein 12g
Flavored ≈ 4 oz. serving, 110 calories, Carbs 20g, Protein 4g
Activia Light(contains artificial sweeteners) ≈ 4 oz. serving, 60 calories, Carbs 10g, Fiber 2g, Protein 4g
Fat-Free Plain, 8oz. serving, 110 calories, Carbs 15g, Protein 10
Cream-on-Top Whole Plain, 8 oz. serving, 160 calories, Carbs 14.1g, Protein 10g
Fat-Free Flavored≈ 6 oz. serving, 130 calories, Carbs 26g, Protein 7g
Non-Fat Plain 6 oz. serving, 60 calories, Carbs 10g, Fiber 2g, Protein 6g
Full-fat Flavored≈ 6 oz. serving, 270 calories, Carbs 26g, Fiber 2g, Protein 6g
Mountain High (Trader Joe’s)
Fat-Free Plain 8 oz. serving, 120 calories, Carbs 19g, Protein 11g
Low-fat Vanilla 8 oz. 190 calories, Carbs 31g, Protein 11g
Full-Fat Flavored≈ 8 oz. serving, 230 calories, Fat 7g, Carbs 31g, Protein 11g
Non-fat Plain 6 oz. serving, 97 calories, Carbs 6.7g, Protein 17.2g
2% Flavored≈ 5.3 oz. serving, 130 calories, Fat 2.5g, Carbs 18g, Protein 10g
Non-fat Plain 8 oz. serving, 110 calories, Carbs 16g, Protein 11g
Full-fat Flavored≈ 8 oz. serving, 230 calories, Fat 8g, Carbs 31g, Protein 8g
Greek yogurt - worth the hype?