It turns out eating yogurt while trying to lose weight can actually help you with fat loss and keeping muscle mass according to some research studies. However, the benefit of yogurt for weight loss appears to only be advantageous when you are following a reduced calorie diet (not when you’re eating a surplus).
How can yogurt help with weight loss?
The combination of being high in protein, calcium and a probiotic source may add benefit during weight loss. Just watch the ingredient label; yogurts aren’t produced equally. Stay away from high sugar yogurts for the highest benefit.
What the research says
A 2005 study separated obese subjects into two weight loss groups for 12 weeks. Both groups were in a calorie deficit and had similar macronutrient and fiber amounts, but one group had a higher intake of calcium specifically from yogurt.
The group that had a higher yogurt intake lost significantly more fat around the midsection and didn’t lose as much muscle mass as the group that didn’t eat yogurt.
Another 2005 study found similar results. Obese African American subjects who had a high dairy intake on a reduced calorie diet lost significantly more weight than the research group that had a lower calcium intake on a reduced calorie diet.
The high dairy group also had a higher amount of lean body mass compared to the low calcium group.
These studies and others suggest eating dairy, specifically yogurt, during weight loss can help with fat loss and help preserve muscle mass.
Does this mean eating yogurt anytime can help you lose weight?
Probably not. A 2012 review article looking at all studies with dairy intake and weight, body fat and lean mass found that including dairy during energy restriction can help with weight loss.
However, increased dairy consumption without reducing calorie intake doesn’t appear to have the same weight loss benefit.
How the protein can help
One reason why yogurt may be helpful during weight loss is because it is relatively high in protein. Getting adequate dietary protein can be helpful during weight loss because this can help preserve lean mass.
Eating protein during meals can also increase satiety, meaning you feel full for longer. This in turn can help lower calorie intake at later meals.
Eating adequate protein consistently through the day may be beneficial for weight loss instead of eating minimal protein through the day then a high protein dinner for example.
Any dairy product is a source of quality protein. However, if you’re looking for a type of yogurt that has a higher amount of protein Greek type yogurts are higher in protein than other traditional yogurts.
How the calcium can help
Another reason yogurt may help with weight loss is it is a source of calcium. Calcium’s effect on weight loss is still being understood, but there is evidence to suggest calcium may have a beneficial role for weight loss.
A 2007 study suggests a diet rich in calcium can help with weight loss for type 2 diabetes patients.
The way the body metabolizes calcium could be one reason why higher diets in calcium help with weight loss, and it could also be there are other components in calcium rich foods, like yogurt, that help with weight regulation.
Eating a diet higher in calcium could even help prevent obesity, as research from NHANES III suggests people with the highest calcium intake have a lowered risk for obesity, but not all research studies show this relationship.
Bottom line is more research is needed to fully understand the role calcium, including dairy products, has on weight regulation and other health parameters.
How the probiotics can help
Probiotics are considered helpful bacteria that grow in the gut. We all have trillions of bacteria in our digestive tract, it’s just a matter if they are helping or hindering our health.
Probiotics are associated with many positive benefits including digestive health, weight regulation, mental health and many more.
While researchers are continuing to study their effects on the body, eating a diet high in probiotic foods could offer some health advantages.
Yogurt and other fermented food can be a natural source of probiotics. Probiotics may help with weight loss; a 2014 study found that when obese women were supplemented with Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 (a specific probiotic strain) for 24 weeks, they lost more fat mass than subjects who did not receive the probiotic supplement.
Yogurt is a source of many beneficial nutrients including protein, calcium and probiotics. Some research studies suggest eating yogurt as part of a reduced calorie diet can help with fat loss and keep muscle mass.
Protein, calcium and probiotics all can offer benefits to weight loss and dairy foods like yogurt provide all three.
Watch out for yogurts with high sugar content and added chemicals. To get the best benefit from yogurt, choose natural, plain yogurts.
References used in this article