Can I Eat Yogurt on the Ketogenic Diet
Don’t you love yogurt?
Whether your favorite flavor is key lime, peach, or blueberry, yogurt’s got you covered in the flavor department.
Plus it’s everywhere; it’s portable; and, it’s convenient to pack for both kids and adults on the go
We’ve been told for a long time that it’s good for us, so we eat it.
But is it acceptable when you've gone keto? Is it low-carb enough?
The short answer is yes. It's good for keto,
But there’s a catch.
In this article:
The Problem With Most Yogurt
Most store-bought yogurt has a sugar content that’s way too high if you're on keto. Particularly if the yogurt has been flavored or had things like granola or fruit added to it, you simply can’t eat it on a keto diet and stay in ketosis because it has too many total carbs (not to mention too many extra calories). There are too many carbs, and it will spike your blood sugar and thus your Fat Storing Hormone too - pushing you right out of ketosis and thus depriving you of keto's benefits such as weight loss, more energy, and better mental clarity.
If you want to get a store-bought one that’s good on a ketogenic diet, I recommend Peak brand triple cream plain yogurt. It's made from grass-fed, organic dairy, and is full fat - something that's important on keto. Since we are talking about dairy if you like yogurt you probably like cheese. Learn everything you need to know about cottage cheese in our article. Is cottage cheese keto?
Before I go further, let’s dig into what yogurt is and why it’s considered healthy in the first place, even if you aren't on a keto diet.
What Is Yogurt?
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that’s most often made from cow’s milk. Bacteria cultures are added to the milk to start the fermentation process. It’s then kept warm for a period of time to create an environment for the bacteria to get to work. They’ll digest the fat protein, sugar, and whey in the milk, and transform it into a nutritional dynamo that makes the yogurt easily digestible and provides an increased level of nutrient absorption.
The microbes in yogurt (and other fermented foods) add themselves to your gut population and continue to help digest all the food you eat. Your gut microbes are your main source of B vitamins (especially B12) and trace minerals, which are needed by your body to properly function.
It’s no wonder fermented foods have been made and treasured for thousands of years; they’re an integral part of overall good health.
But most of the commercial yogurt you find in the store is more like a confectionery dessert than healthy probiotic-filled health food.
So what’s the solution?
How To Make Sure You Get The Healthiest Yogurt
The best way to get the healthiest possible yogurt is to make your own. You control the ingredients and the quality, and it’s simple to make.
To start, you’ll need a yogurt maker. I like the Luvele brand because it will bring the temperature down to 100 degrees and more gently cook the milk over a longer period of time.
You must be wondering, what’s important about the amount of time the yogurt cooks? Because the longer the culturing process goes on, the longer the culture has time to
multiply, thereby increasing the amount of bacteria - up to 700 billion colony forming units or CFUs.
Colony-forming units specifically refers to active, reproductive bacteria as opposed to inactive or dead bacteria. A single bacterium can divide and form a "colony" of many bacteria. And, the more live bacteria, the better!
The bacteria transferred to your gut from the yogurt you eat helps to restore your natural bacteria population, which will help fight off invasion by harmful bacteria, yeasts, fungi and viruses. They have a difficult time taking hold in your body if there is already a colony of beneficial bacteria taking up the available space and food.
By comparison, the yogurt you get at the store has only a fraction of the amount of CFUs as does homemade yogurt: 1-5 billion CFUs.
Your homemade yogurt will be somewhat sour tasting because the high number of bacteria has eaten the lactose (milk sugar) to sharply reduce its content. Which is perfect, because remember, you don’t want high sugar content in yogurt when you're on keto.
Be sure the milk you use is both organic and grass-fed, because otherwise, it contains a lot of hormones such as estrogen and growth hormones, along with antibiotics. So, for example, if you have a prostate problem, the hormones in non-organic and non-grass-fed yogurt could affect it. Or if you’re susceptible to breast cancer or estrogen dominant, you don’t want to be adding more estrogen from your diet.
If you can get raw cow’s milk or goat’s milk, that would be ideal. Clean raw milk from grass-fed cows is chock full of healthy amino acids and beneficial enzymes. It has natural antibiotic properties that help protect it from pathogenic bacteria. As well, raw milk has more butterfat, which is rich in fatty acids that protect against disease and stimulate your immune system.
All in all, high-quality yogurt is nearly a perfect food. It has calcium, B vitamins, protein, and healthy fat along with its impressive probiotic content. And yes, it certainly can be part of your keto diet.
Yogurt And Its Fat Content
While you’ve probably heard of the benefits of live bacterial cultures in yogurt, something that’s not typically discussed is its fat content. But because we’re all about the ketogenic diet here, let’s take a look at fat.
You know for decades we’ve been warned about the dangers of eating saturated fat; it’s a myth that it causes clogged arteries and heart disease.
Saturated fat is healthy. Dairy fat is no different. Meaning that on a keto diet, it’s important that you choose full-fat yogurt. Or, choose full-fat milk if you’re making your own yogurt.
I know there are many non-fat yogurt options. Avoid non-fat if possible. But if it’s your only option, make sure you add lots of healthy fats such as walnuts, pistachios, or almonds to it.
Greek Yogurt: Yes Or No?
You’re probably wondering if Greek yogurt is also allowed on the keto diet. The short answer is yes; and, in fact, in some ways, it’s better than regular yogurt.
Greek yogurt is much thicker because the whey is strained off of it. Whey is the milk's watery component. Removing the whey lowers its carb and sugar count. Plus, plain Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt, making it a good alternative to meat-based protein sources.
Lastly, Greek yogurt has a higher fat content than regular yogurt; as I’ve mentioned, dairy fat is a healthy saturated fat that’s ideal for the ketogenic diet.
But What If I’m Avoiding Lactose?
If you’re sensitive to dairy yet still want a good probiotic, I recommend you eat either kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables such as cabbage, radishes, and carrots, or sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage.
If you’re not sure how to start using sauerkraut in your diet, check out this sauerkraut and hotdog scramble recipe I created for you.
You don’t have to miss out on probiotics if you need to avoid lactose.
Aren’t You Glad About Yogurt On Keto?
Yogurt is a fantastic food to include in your keto diet.
A favorite treat is to top it with a few blueberries and perhaps some full-fat whipped cream, for a tasty dessert or snack. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and you’ve got a total keto diet-friendly dish.
So if you’ve been avoiding yogurt because you’re not sure you can eat it and stay in ketosis, it’s time to celebrate! Yogurt will support your keto diet.
Go ahead. Make yourself a yogurt treat!