The publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" recommends that adults consume three servings of dairy products per day to get the calcium they need for building and maintaining strong bones. Yogurt is a calcium-rich dairy product that counts toward these recommendations, and it can also help you control your weight. Choose fat-free yogurt and plain yogurt without added sugars to limit your calorie consumption.
Choose Yogurt Instead of High-Calorie Foods
You will lose weight if you are able to consume fewer calories than you expend, and yogurt can help you limit your calorie consumption. Each 8-ounce container of plain nonfat yogurt contains only 127 calories. Consuming three servings of yogurt per day gives you a total of 381 calories from yogurt, leaving sufficient room in your calorie-controlled diet for other healthy foods. Reduce your calorie consumption by choosing yogurt instead of higher-calorie foods. Have a cup of yogurt and some whole-grain cereal for breakfast instead of a stack of pancakes with butter and syrup, or eat yogurt instead of potato chips or cookies for a snack or dessert.
Load Up on Protein
Eating yogurt three times a day can help you lose weight because of the amount of protein you will consume. Protein is more a filling nutrient than carbs or fat, because it delays the emptying of food from the stomach so that you feel full for longer after a meal. This may help you eat less of other higher-calorie foods. A cup of plain nonfat yogurt provides 13 grams of protein, or 26 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Greek yogurt is higher in protein, with 23 grams in an 8-ounce portion.
The Research on Dairy Products
Consuming yogurt three times a day may have additional benefits for weight loss. According to research published in the November 2010 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” individuals who consume more calcium from dairy products are more likely to successfully lose weight. Each 8-ounce container of plain nonfat yogurt provides 452 milligrams of calcium, or 45 percent of the daily value. The study also states that vitamin D may play a role, so you should select vitamin D-fortified yogurt.
Eating yogurt three times per day can become boring and tempt you to go off of your weight-loss diet unless you consume your yogurt in a variety of ways. In addition to enjoying yogurt on its own, you can mix fruit or whole-grain cereal into your yogurt. Make smoothies with yogurt and a variety of fresh or frozen fruit, and mix yogurt with various herbs, such as dill, to use as a dip for raw vegetables. You can also mix yogurt into curries and soups.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database
- Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Dairy Calcium Intake, Serum Vitamin D and Successful Weight Loss