Yogurt is produced by fermenting milk and is a good source of gut-friendly probiotics. Many health-conscious people include a daily dose of yogurt in their diet by mixing it with breakfast cereals, fresh fruits, nuts or flaxseeds; eating it on its own; or using plain yogurt to prepare dip and marinade. However, if you are concerned with your insulin levels, yogurt and dairy products in general may not be a good option for you.
Yogurt Nutrition Facts
The nutritional value can differ from one brand to another, depending on its fat content, if it contains real sugar or artificial sugar or if it is flavored. Looking at the label on the brand of yogurt you usually buy is the best way to determine how many grams of carbohydrates and sugars are found per serving. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a 4-oz. individual container of nonfat, fruit-flavored yogurt contains 108 calories and 21.6 g of carbohydrates, while the same serving of nonfat yogurt sweetened with a sugar substitute contains 52 calories and 9.2 g of carbohydrates. A 4-oz. serving of low-fat plain yogurt has 71 calories and 8 g of carbohydrates. As a comparison basis, a slice of bread has approximately 15 g of carbs.
Carbs and Insulin
The main factor influencing your insulin levels is the amount of carbs you eat; therefore, the more yogurt you eat and the more carbohydrates and sugar your yogurt contains, the more insulin will produce your pancreas and the higher your insulin levels will be. If you typically consume your yogurt with other carbohydrate-containing foods, such as fresh or dried fruits, breakfast cereals, oatmeal, extra sugar, honey or syrup, your higher carb intake will trigger the release of more insulin from your pancreas.
Dairy and Insulin
In addition to raising your insulin levels because of the carbs it contains, the protein casein and whey found in yogurt can also contribute to stimulating the release of more insulin, as explained on Mark's Daily Apple. Milk and cheese, but not cream and butter, also have the same properties because they contain the same insulin-stimulating proteins. As a result, your insulin levels will raise more than they would normally raise when eating yogurt than when eating another food with a similar carbohydrate content.
Lower Your Insulin Levels
High insulin levels are not desirable and can lead to insulin resistance. If you know you are insulin resistant, which is often the case for people with a large waist circumference, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome, you should modify your diet to help you lower your insulin levels. Although yogurt may be partly responsible for raising your insulin levels, carbohydrate-rich foods, such as added sugar, desserts, sugary drinks, breads, pasta, rice and other grains, are probably the biggest culprit. Eat plain yogurt and add fresh fruits, nuts or nut butter to flavor it without adding sugar and reduce the release of insulin from your pancreas. Reduce your carb intake from grains and sugar in your diet, and your insulin levels will decrease, and your insulin sensitivity will improve.
- Mark's Daily Apple; Dairy and Its Effect on Insulin Secretion; January 2011
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Inconsistency Between Glycemic and Insulinemic Responses to Regular and Fermented Milk Products; Elin M --stman, et al.; 2001
- "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable"; Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek; 2011
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data Laboratory