Greek yogurt became popular in North American food culture not so long ago. It soon earned high regard of many health enthusiasts. Its unique nutritional content can help you lose weigh and build lean muscle the healthy way. In the meantime, its thick creamy texture will not make you feel like you are on a diet.
Greek yogurt may seem like a novelty to North American gourmands but its actual history goes a long way back. Think about the vigorous ancient civilizations. Greek yogurt was almost certainly on the menu for Aristotle, Alexander the Great, and Cleopatra. Even today we associate Greek yogurt with the famous Mediterranean diet – the diet that stands for wholesome and life-prolonging nutrition.
So if you have not tried Greek yogurt yet, you should. And here is why.
What is Greek Yogurt?
Greek yogurt has many names: it is also known as labneh, yogurt cheese, and strained yogurt. These names will give your first hints about the nature of Greek yogurt.
Like regular yogurt, it is made through bacterial fermentation of milk. Unlike regular yogurt, it is strained through a cloth or paper filter to remove the whey more than twice. This process is responsible for the texture of Greek yogurt – something in between yogurt and cheese. The process provides the many health benefits that are unique to Greek yogurt.
Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt
The main difference between Greek and regular types of yogurt is higher protein content in strained yogurt. Since whey is removed, Greek yogurt can have up to twice as much protein. If you are a vegetarian, you should never overlook the importance of this protein. Greek yogurt is one of the great sources of complete protein (that means it contains all the essential amino acids).
An additional gain of removing whey from yogurt is lower content of sugar and carbohydrates. This is very advantageous for diabetics.
Many types of Greek yogurt can also have less fat while preserving a rich tasty texture. A word of warning, always check the fat content before buying. Certain brands of Greek yogurt may have up to 10% of milk fat, while others have 0%. The bottom line is that Greek yogurt can have very little fat while tasting deliciously creamy. And if you are trying to lose weight this is nothing but a win-win scenario.
Greek Yogurt vs. Greek Style Yogurt
In a grocery store you may come across the so-called “Greek style” variety of yogurt. In general, this yogurt is very similar to Greek yogurt. The name may simply mean that milk used in production does not come from Greece.
However, there is one problem with some of the Greek style yogurts on the market. Some brands thicken their yogurts with thickening agents. These yogurts may contain less protein than strained yogurts. Always check the label for protein content. A good number is about 18 grams of protein per 175 grams (3/4 cup) serving.
Benefits of Greek Yogurt for Weight Loss
Let’s look at the benefits of Greek yogurt for you. But first, let’s summarize the most basic recipe for weight loss. It goes something like this: more protein, less fat and limiting your carbs.
Without a doubt, Greek yogurt will provide an amazing source of protein.
It can also significantly lower your fat intake – just make sure that you buy the low-fat version. Let me explain this point further.
While trying to lose the extra pounds, the major challenge is often in excluding fats from one’s diet. There is no surprise there… Fats give us the after meal satisfaction. They make our comfort foods truly “comfort.” They seem to make everything so much better. Think about sour cream or mayonnaise. Think about how well they go with chicken, baked potatoes, veggies, anything!
Now, Greek yogurt can satisfy your fat cravings without spoiling the weight loss efforts. Because of its famous rich texture, it can substitute for that high-fat sour cream. But unlike sour cream, it may keep your fat intake to the minimum.
If you like Greek food, you are probably no stranger to Tzatziki sauce. But do you know what is the main ingredient of the sauce? Yes, you guessed right, it is Greek yogurt. This means that you can create the perfect weight loss meal that will leave you comforted and satisfied. How about grilled chicken (fat grilled out), some vegetables, rice, and a generous helping of homemade Tzatziki sauce?