Is yogurt fattening or good for weight loss?

Not only is yogurt delicious, it is also a great source of a variety of different nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. Yogurt can be eaten on its own, used to make salad dressings or added to smoothies.

Even though it is a great food to eat, you may be wondering whether doing so could add a few inches to your waist. The quick and simple answer is that it depends on the type of yogurt that you eat. Some varieties can help you lose weight, whereas others might cause weight gain.

Yogurt can be made from different types of milk such as whole milk and skimmed milk. Let us take a look at the nutritional profiles of 2 different types of yogurt:

1 container (227 g) of plain ordinary yogurt made from skimmed milk contains:

Calories 127
Fat 0
Cholesterol 5 mg
Sodium 175 mg
Carbohydrates 17 g
Fibre 0 g
Sugar 17 g
Protein 13 g

1 container (227 g) of plain ordinary yogurt made from whole milk contains:

Calories 138
Fat 7 g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Sodium 104 mg
Carbohydrates 11 g
Fibre 0 g
Sugar 11 g
Protein 8 g

As you can see from the tables above, both types of yogurt have fairly similar nutritional profiles.

When it comes to weight management, the first thing you should consider is calories. A calorie is a unit of energy and all foods contain them, in varying amounts. For example nuts such as almonds are high in calories because they contain a lot of fat, which is very calorie dense. Vegetables such as spinach on the other hand are low in calories because they contain a lot of water, which has 0 calories.

The main thing to monitor is the number of calories you are consuming versus the number of calories you are expending. In order to lose weight, you need to be consuming fewer calories than you are using up. Doing so will cause your body to use its fat stores as a source of energy. The opposite is also true. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

Everyone is different and so the number of calories you should be consuming might be much more or much less than a friend. The number of calories you need depends on your current weight, height, age, gender and activity levels. You can use the calculator below to estimate the number of calories you should be consuming.

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level

This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.

For example, a 35 year old woman who weighs 100 kg, is 160 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week will need to consume approximately 2600 calories to maintain her current weight, 2100 calories to lose weight and 1550 calories to lose weight fast.

(You should not consume less than 1200 calories a day and should always consult a qualified medical professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.)

Plain yogurt is relatively low in calories. Eating a container of yogurt when you are on a 1500 calorie diet for example, would contribute to roughly 9% of total daily calories. This makes it a good food to add to a weight loss diet.

What about Greek yogurt?

Greek yogurt is made by straining ordinary yogurt. Doing so gets rid of liquid whey, which leaves behind a much thicker yogurt. Below is the nutritional information of a 227 g serving of nonfat Greek yogurt:

Calories 133
Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 12 mg
Sodium 81 mg
Carbohydrates 8 g
Fibre 0 g
Sugar 8 g
Protein 23 g

Greek yogurt tends to contain almost double the amount of protein that ordinary plain yogurt does and this is one of the main reasons it is a better option to opt for when you are trying to lose weight.

Protein has a high satiety, meaning it helps you to feel full faster. You therefore end up having a reduced appetite and eat fewer calories. This study in particular had very impressive results. It found that increasing protein intake led to 441 fewer calories being consumed per day.

High protein intake has also been shown to boost metabolism, which means you burn more calories, even when you sleep. Studies have shown that protein consumption can result in 100 more calories being used up per day on average. Protein helps maintain muscle mass and the more muscular you are, the more calories you burn, even when resting.

Scientific studies that support eating yogurt for weight loss

There have been a number of studies that have looked into what effect the consumption of yogurt has on weight loss.

This study analysed the eating habits of 120,887 US men and women. It was found that potato chips resulted in the most weight gain whereas yogurt resulted in the most weight loss.

This study involved participants being in a 500 daily calorie deficit and consuming either a control food or yogurt for 12 weeks. It was found that the group that ate yogurt ended up losing more fat and had a greater reduction in waist circumference.

This study involved 35 women participating in an 8 week resistance training program. They were split into 3 groups, one of which consumed 3 servings of yogurt per day. It was found that the yogurt group lost more fat than another group that consumed fewer calories.

This study found that the consumption of probiotic yogurt on a low calorie diet led to a greater reduction in BMI and fat percentage than a low calorie diet on its own.

This systematic review concluded that yogurt consumption is associated with lower BMI, smaller waist circumferences, lower body fat and less weight gain.

Can yogurt be fattening?

Since there are so many different ways to flavour yogurt, not all varieties of yogurt are the same. Some store bought varieties can contain a lot of added sugar and toppings. These can change the nutritional profile of the “yogurt” drastically, increasing their calorie content and reducing the amount of protein.

The consumption of excess sugar is very unhealthy because it leads to spikes and dips in insulin levels. This in turn can leave you feeling hungry and cause you to overeat.

As we explained above, the consumption of excess calories leads to weight gain. Therefore, if you eat yogurts that are high in calories and sugar, they could contribute to weight gain.

In general, you want to buy plain yogurt with no other added ingredients. Check the labels on the container and try look for a yogurt that weight for weight, has nutritional values similar to what is in the tables above. Alternatively, you can make your own yogurt at home. For extra flavour, add some chopped fruit and a tiny bit of honey.


Yogurt is very healthy and makes for a great snack. Plain versions of ordinary or Greek yogurt can also help you manage your weight. They are by no means miracle weight loss foods, however when combined with other weight loss foods and plenty of exercise, they can help you shed those excess pounds.

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