What used to be one of the unhealthiest breakfast foods to start your day with has now become one of the healthiest. It’s not because of a change in viewpoint — it’s because food manufacturers gave this breakfast staple a healthy facelift. If you haven’t guessed by now, we’re talking about yogurt.
Decades ago, it was hard to come across a small carton that had less than 20 grams of sugar. Now, there are dozens of low-sugar yogurt options to choose from.
But yogurt isn’t just healthy because it’s low in added sugars. It’s also good for you because it’s high in protein, satiating fats, and beneficial micronutrients. Combined, these health benefits all factor into why yogurt is the perfect weight-loss food. Here are seven waist-whittling, muscle-toning reasons to grab a spoon and go-gurt on the regular. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, you won’t want to miss these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
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, like these 15 Best Greek Yogurts, According to Nutritionists.
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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 a Nutrition & Metabolism study. The researchers attribute the dieters’ ability to eat more calories without weight gain to dairy’s ability to burn fat through enzyme inhibitors and amino acids unique to dairy protein, which act synergistically with calcium.
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 fortified low-fat yogurt is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D.
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.
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 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. To reach that 40 grams, consider pairing your yogurt with a protein shake. (Related: 25 Late-Night Habits That Are Ruining Your Weight Loss Efforts.)
There are just certain foods that will cause long-term weight gain more than others. But for every food that is expanding your waistline, there’s a food that can shrink it — and yogurt is one of them. A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity journal found that eating low-fat yogurt over the course of years was actually associated with a decrease in weight over time. The same was true of plant-based foods.