Yogurt: Low-Fat vs Regular?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 06, 2010 at 1:54 PM

I know, I know Yogurt isn't Paleo... My apologies!

According to the paleo theory of the world (which I buy into!) -- which of the following is closer to the ideal paleo diet: regular yogurt or low-fat yogurt?

I'm guessing regular yogurt, because, I think, it requires less processing/artificialness than a low-fat yogurt, right?

Does it then follow that (according to our paleo worldview), the regular yogurt is slightly healthier (or, lets say, less bad) for you than the diet yogurt?

This is my reasoning and the conclusion I think I've come to; is this right according to the Paleo worldview?

Thanks! morgan



on April 06, 2010
at 07:10 PM

gilliebean, your answer is wonderful, just what I was looking for. Thank you!

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10 Answers



on April 06, 2010
at 03:16 PM

Low-fat is pointless. Regular yogurt is okay. Greek yogurt is best.

To quote primal guru Mark Sisson, "Raw, fermented, full-fat dairy is probably best." In his blog post called "The Definitive Guide to Dairy" he says:

Tons of traditional, fairly disease-free groups lived with dairy (just as tons of traditional, fairly disease-free groups lived without it), and they all included some form of fermented or cultured product. Cultured butter, yogurt, kefir, clotted milk, cheese ??? these are traditional ways of increasing shelf life, improving digestibility, and incorporating beneficial probiotics into the gut. Fermentation takes care of most of the lactose, and some posit that it may even positively alter the structure, function, and safety of casein.

Try to find a greek yogurt in your area and avoid non-fat, low-fat and "regular" yogurts. Check the label. Even some regular yogurts have HFCS and stabilizers. Ew.

If you're feeling ambitious, you can even make your own yogurt!!

P.S. For the record, you may not need to be too concerned with calorie counts if you're eating yogurt solely for the protein content. Read this for an interesting perspective.



on April 06, 2010
at 07:10 PM

gilliebean, your answer is wonderful, just what I was looking for. Thank you!



on April 06, 2010
at 02:26 PM

The processing isn't relevant per se, even though it counts for a few anti-paleo points. One thing to bear in mind with the removal of the fat though, is that it might entail the removal of the fat soluble nutrients. According to NutritionData (comparing milks) this isn't so, but this seems a little implausible. One other thing that you lose when you remove the fat, is that the sugar and protein will be absorbed more quickly; even if you don't care about GI, this may practically lead to you feeling hungrier from getting a spike of blood sugar.

Which one is actually better, depends on what you want from the food. The first thing to consider is what two things you're actually comparing. Are the carbs+protein the same in the yoghurts you're comparing (simply +/- fat)? If you're eating the yoghurt for a source of protein then, all else being equal, you might well want to go for the 0% one. I remember when I've been forced to try to meet my protein needs on yoghurt a couple of times (being unable to eat solid food and being unable to cook, respectively), that it was basically impossible to do so using full fat greek yoghurt. By the time I'd reached my daily calories I was still short.

On the other hands, most paleos would say that there's absolutely nothing wrong with saturated dairy fat, but there's (potentially) a lot wrong with casein, lactose and whey, they're also more likely to be trying to increase fat intake than to increase protein intake. In such a case, then the full fat yoghurt is a reasonable food, though it's a shame about the unhealthy sugar and dairy protein. Paleo common sense would probably recommend eating the full fat version just to displace some of the neolithic food, but if you're eating for some specific purpose this doesn't necessarily hold true.

As a general rule the fat free component of the yoghurt would contain most of the micronutrients, (b vitamins, potassium etc), as opposed to the cream, so if you're eating the yoghurt to meet these micronutrient needs then you might want the lower fat yoghurt so that you can eat more of it.



on April 09, 2010
at 09:22 PM

Full Fat live culture yogurt for the win, Greek Yogurt preferably (Recently I've become addicted to Fage total). Absolutely no point in low fat or zero fat unless you like paying for extra sugar and water in it.

funny thing I learned from gutsense.org Danactive dosen't actually have live cultures, they add inulin to them (prebiotic/fiber, if you already have live gut bacteria, it will eat the inulin, if you don't it just makes you have IBS). Apparently you can test cultured foods by putting some in a clean glass in a warm place and tightly sealing it with plastic wrap.. if the plastic starts to bulge after awhile.. congratulations you have a live culture and its doing what it says, if it doesn't move they pasteurized the hell out of it and you are eating dead bugs, 0 benefit.



on April 06, 2010
at 04:47 PM

Also, my understanding was that the carbs (in the form of lactose) indicated on the label of full-fat yogurt has mostly been consumed by the bacteria in the yogurt. Some dumb labeling law requires them to list it as carbs nonetheless. In short, full-fat Fage has even fewer carbs than the label would indicate.


on April 06, 2010
at 04:19 PM

Always full-fat! I, as gilliebean, concur with Mark Sisson @ MDA. She also mentioned that you can make your own yogurt, it really is super easy. I make mine from raw goat's milk so it can be runny so I add gelatin and only heat to 110. a good link with three good reasons to eat it is at: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/search/label/yogurt



on April 06, 2010
at 03:23 PM

Always keep the natural product- always keep the fat, it is a much needed and important nutrient. The erroneous low fat movement is death walking for our society. I eat Greek yogurt as a diabetic on low carb it is a much need source of fat and protein. Watch out for Greek 'STYLE' yogurt- it is not real Greek Yogurt, just thickened. Fage Total (as in Total fat) is the best. I lost over 70 lbs and NEVER counted a calorie or went hungry



on April 10, 2010
at 01:25 AM

Agreed. I love Greek full fat, no sugar yogurt and I also like to strain some whey out to use it as sour cream for dips and to eat with veggies.

It has less carbs and more flavour.


on April 09, 2010
at 08:03 PM

Modern "Yogurt" from the grocery is mostly processed. It is full of sugar and emulsifiers. For the Activa types they have to add back the cultures that already exist in real yogurt. Dairy fat is one of the best fats for you, so stick with the full fat, Greek style yogurt or, like someone said above, make your own.



on April 06, 2010
at 02:13 PM

Low fat yoghurt would have more carbs than full fat yoghurt. The hard thing is finding anything but low fat.


on August 03, 2010
at 08:31 PM

Do you want to swallow this?! Imagine eating yoghurt eaten out of dog???s rear!

Ewwwwwwww! Light and Fit doggish model or actress sounds and looks like my dog licking his! She may love it but it would be less disgusting to eat yoghurt out of any other container ??? or no yoghurt at all!

Disgusting yuck!

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