Yogurt has been a widely consumed probiotic in traditional cultures as far as 5000 BC.
Recently, various studies have drawn a connection between good gut health, gut bacteria and mental health.
#guthealth hashtags aside, yogurt contains most of the nutrients our bodies need for optimal health. This makes it an important food in a well-balanced diet.
Most of us enjoy some quality yogurt. It features in our meals from breakfast to dinner. Whenever we crave a healthy snack, we reach for some yogurt and fruit.
But despite its health-friendly nature, many of you are left wondering whether there is the right time and way to eat yogurt.
To provide you with the best answers, we asked some nutritionists:
When is the best time to eat yogurt?
According to them, there really isn't a bad time to eat yogurt.
While we aren’t surprised, they do recommend Greek yogurt and Skyr over plain. You should avoid eating it before intense workouts.
In this article, you’ll find answers to all your yogurt questions including when to eat, when to avoid, and how much to eat in a day.
But before you dig into some delicious yogurt topped with strawberries, let's find out what makes it healthy and why Greek yogurt scores over plain.
Health Benefits Of Yogurt
Fermented foods were a traditional way to preserve food along with the nutrients in it. Yogurt is a fermented dairy food prepared with live active cultures. Some of its intended health benefits include:
- The amino acids in yogurt help increase satiety and reduce the number of calories you consume. These cell building blocks regulate your blood glucose levels as well.
- The peptides in yogurt play an important role in controlling your blood pressure levels and keeping your heart healthy.
- The fermentation process that yogurt undergoes allows for better absorption of calcium by your body compared to regular milk.
- The high levels of protein help build lean muscle and aid in weight management
- Vitamins (particularly B12) and probiotic content improve gut microbiome and prevent digestive issues.
- The minerals and calcium are essential for the protection of teeth and bones along with boosting your immune system.
Yogurt may reduce inflammation, help with weight loss, and work as a remedy for ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other stomach and gastric conditions.
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Types of yogurt
Plain and Greek yogurt are made from different types of milk like goat, cow, sheep, buffalo, and even camel. You also have these probiotics made with plant and nut milk.
Milk is heated and chilled before adding the bacterial culture. The result is a slightly thick and creamy yogurt with a sour and tangy mouthfeel.
A richer and creamier yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt and removing the whey. This has more proteins and can withstand higher temperatures.
Skyr is a strained yogurt with Icelandic bacterial cultures introduced into skim milk. This results in a mildly sour-flavored and thicker version of yogurt with more proteins and fewer carbs and fat than Greek yogurt.
Low-fat/ No-fat yogurt
Low-fat milk is fermented with live cultures to make reduced-fat yogurt, while non-fat yogurt is made with skimmed milk. Both plain and Greek yogurt can be made low-fat or zero-fat.
A synthetic enzyme, lactase, is added to milk to break down the lactose. This process mimics the way our digestive system breaks down lactose in milk. The resulting yogurt is safe to eat for those who are lactose-intolerant.
These newer yogurts are made with plant milk including soy, oat, almond, coconut, and cashew. These are popular with people who are lactose intolerant or vegan.
Froyo is a yogurt dessert made from low-fat milk solids using live cultures. Seen as an alternative to ice cream, it often contains stabilizers and sweeteners. Some brands may contain more sugar than recommended.
With so many options available, which is the best yogurt to eat every day?
Amy Shapiro, RD of Real Nutrition NYC recommends Greek yogurt to her clients and our readers. According to her, “The protein is more than double that of regular yogurt and the sugar is often lower by at least 10 or more grams/serving.”
Greek yogurt contains probiotics that support digestion, help maintain and lose weight and contribute to overall health and wellness.
Skyr and low-fat yogurt are the next best options. If you want to eat healthier, make yogurt at home with low-fat milk and less sugar
So, what are the:
Four Best Times To Eat Yogurt For Maximum Benefit
While you eat yogurt anytime to feel satiated and keep hunger at bay, eating it at certain times enhances the nutritional benefits.
Should You Eat Yogurt In The Morning?
Amy Shapiro says, “because of its varied health benefits, breakfast is a wonderful time to enjoy yogurt. It can be dressed up with toppings such as no added sugar granola, berries, and/or nuts. “
Yogurt should be a part of your balanced breakfast. You can have a parfait or add it to a smoothie or overnight pudding to increase your protein consumption. This prevents energy slumps and food cravings during the day.
Can You Eat Yogurt During The Day?
Yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, is brimming with beneficial bacteria or probiotics. This supports your digestive as well as your immune system, not to mention improve your mood.
The good bacteria help control sugar cravings and reduce appetite, helping you keep your weight in check.
Besides, yogurt is filling and keeps your energy up for the rest of the day. It is inexpensive and easy to carry along.
Is Snacking On Yogurt Good For You?
Sophie Anson from EatStrong Wellness had this to say, “Unsurprisingly, people with healthy gut bacteria weigh less than those whose guts are more heavily populated with the unhealthy types of bacteria which stimulate appetite and sugar cravings.”
She further states that yogurt will make us happier, and confirms, “All good reasons to eat yogurt with lunch or as an afternoon snack!”
Is Eating Yogurt At Night Good For You?
Our bodies go into repair mode when we sleep at night. It also reaches a catabolic state when we fast during these s 6 to 8 hours of sleep time.
Eating Greek yogurt before bedtime can help you build lean muscle and prevent muscle loss from a strenuous workout.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, then you should snack on dairy products like Skyr or Greek yogurt. An amino acid, tryptophan in these foods is converted into melatonin and serotonin. These are the two hormones that promote deep sleep.
Avoid regular yogurt lower in protein and higher in sugar as a dessert. The sugar content can disrupt your sleep.
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Should You Eat Yogurt Before Or After Workouts?
Amy advises that you eat yogurt after and not immediately before intense exercise as it can give you a cramp.
Sophie suggests that you choose snacks that are rich in fiber-rich carbs and proteins to refuel your body.
A cup of plain Greek yogurt topped with berries, manuka honey, pure honey, or banana offers that benefit and is a perfectly balanced post-workout snack.
If you cannot eat it plain, blend it into a smoothie. Add-ins like vegan or whey protein powders, nut butter, chia or flax seeds, maca root, and even frozen greens work too.
How To Eat Yogurt For Weight Loss?
When your body systems function smoothly, you can maintain better mental and physical health. One such system is your gut with its microbiome content that regulates both our weight and mood.
Greek yogurt is one of those foods that help in promoting healthy gut bacteria. Start with a dose of protein from the yogurt and add it to your evening snack to keep food carvings to a minimum.
Post-workout snacking on yogurt allows you to replace essential carbs and proteins that aid in muscle building.
Make sure your branded yogurt is rBST-free. This hormone found in cow’s milk from cheap brands is said to cause weight gain.
Who Should Not Eat Yogurt
Yogurt is well-tolerated by most people. However, individuals with stomach issues or prone to acidity, should not eat it on an empty stomach.
Fermented milk products form hydrochloric acid in an empty stomach aggravating their symptoms. Low-fat yogurt is suitable for anyone with acid reflux.
Lactose-intolerant individuals should avoid plain yogurt or dairy yogurt. Greek yogurt is almost lactose-free and may prove a better alternative.
How Much Yogurt Is Best To Eat In A Day?
If you’re eating low-fat or Greek yogurt, you can have it 1 or 2 times a day along with regular meals or as a breakfast or snack.
Some people could end up with bloating and stomach discomfort from overeating yogurt. Consuming commercial yogurt with lots of sugar and fat content every day is not a good idea.
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There is no optimal time to eat yogurt. Eat yogurt foods once a day, if not more.
Avoid consuming it on an empty stomach if you suffer from acid reflux, and before intense workouts to prevent cramping.
But remember, not all yogurt varieties are created equal. Some like Greek yogurt and Skyr contain more protein and offer better health benefits.
Others like flavored and commercial yogurt could contain starch, fillers, loads of sugar, and other additives, making them less healthy options.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some common questions on yogurt for which you need answers.
When is the best time to eat yogurt with acid reflux?
If you suffer from acid reflux, avoid eating it on an empty stomach. Have yogurt along with a meal or as an afternoon or evening snack.
Can you eat yogurt while traveling?
When you’re traveling, you tend to eat at restaurants and takeout foods. Yogurt is a nutritious snack that keeps your digestive system healthy while on the road.
When should a pregnant woman eat yogurt?
Pregnant women should not consume it on an empty stomach or if they are lactose-intolerant. They should avoid high-sugar versions, yogurt made from cow milk containing rbST hormones, and those with additives.