All Yogurts Are Not Created Equal

Yogurt can be a good portable snack or meal that fits into the Zone; the cultures are beneficial; and it’s often better tolerated by lactose-sensitive folks than other dairy products. But don’t let the manufacturers’ claims of “health and goodness” lure you into thinking that anything on the yogurt shelf at Safeway is worth putting in your mouth.

What you’re looking for, as always, is a balance of protein, carbs, and fat.

The first rule of thumb is that any flavored yogurt (and, yes, vanilla is a flavor, although usually not as nutritionally evil as the frooted flavors), is going to be a sugarfest and is to be avoided. Yoplait, for example, despite being advertised as a good food for health, fitness, and weight-loss, has less than one block of protein per serving and 3.5 blocks of carb (see table below). That’s virtually an entire meal worth of carbs, just in a container of yogurt, and with very little of the protein you need. (And it’s got some pretty unpleasant ingredients, from sugar and corn-based sweeteners to crushed beetle abdomens.)

Even the “natural” brands (e.g., item 4 in the table below) don’t look so good when they’re fruity. (Though the ingredients list is little less terrifying.)

So, that leaves us with plain. Different brands have their own flavor, texture, and degree of tartness, so some experimentation can help you find one that appeals to your palate most. The nutritional profile varies quite a bit by brand, so you have to read labels. In most cases, it’s pretty good on its own, which makes for a handy snack or meal, but there’s no room for any carb-containing additions or accompaniments.

I am quite enamored of Fage (pronounced fah-yeh) 2% Greek yogurt, which you can buy at Trader Joes.  It's not too tart, super smooth, and thick and creamy. And, if we can trust the label, it has a very favorable macronutrient profile. With 2.5 blocks of protein and only 1 of carb, there’s room for about a block of blueberries, strawberries, melon, or just about any fresh fruit you like. Mmm…real food.

For a more locally obtained brand with very similar protein and carb content and consistency, New Frontiers carries Voskos' Greek Style yogurt.  This brand does contain full fat milk and cream, so if you are counting fat calories, this will not be a low-fat choice.  Consistency and flavor seem equal to Fage brand.

Brand Protein
P/C/F blocks
(to nearst 1/2)
Fage 2%, plain

Voskos', plain







2.5 / 1 / 2.5


skimmed milk
yogurt cultures

yogurt cultures

Nancy's lowfat,
plain organic
11 16 3 1.5 / 2 / 2 milk
milk powder
yogurt cultures
Mountain High
lowfat, plain
11 18 2.5 1.5 / 2 / 1.5 milk
yogurt cultures
Nancy's lowfat,
10 26 2.5 1.5 / 3 / 2 milk
nonfat dry milk
guar gum
yogurt cultures
Yoplait, strawberry 5 33 1.5 .5 / 3.5 / 1 milk
modified corn starch
high fructose corn syrup
whey protein concentrate
citric acid
tricalcium phosphate
natural flavor
colored with carmine
vitamin A acetate
vitamin D3

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Bulk of text and nutrition info courtesy Carrie Klumpar, CrossFit Eastside.

NutritionLisa Ray1 Comment