Replacing less-healthy foods with nonfat, plain yogurt may improve your weight-loss results. Although some research points toward weight loss when consuming nonfat yogurt -- including belly fat loss -- not all studies have found weight-loss benefits from eating yogurt. Yogurt does provide significant amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin B-12, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Potential Weight-Loss Benefits
A study published in "Obesity Research" in April 2004 found that compared to people on reduced-calorie diets who consumed 400 to 500 milligrams of calcium per day from dairy products, getting 1,200 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day from dairy products increased weight loss by approximately 70 percent and fat loss by about 64 percent -- with about 66 percent of fat loss coming from the trunk region of the body. Not all studies, however, show such drastic weight-loss improvements from eating more yogurt or dairy products. A study published in "Obesity Research" in October 2005 found that after a year, weight loss was about the same between the groups that consumed about one serving of dairy per day and those that consumed three or four servings per day.
Amount of Yogurt
A study published in the "International Journal of Obesity" in 2005 found that eating enough yogurt each day to consume 1,100 milligrams of calcium led to increases in both weight loss and belly fat loss compared to a control diet in which people consumed no more than 500 milligrams of calcium per day. Both groups ate reduced-calorie diets. An 8-ounce serving, or 1 cup, of plain nonfat yogurt has about 488 milligrams of calcium, so this is about 18 ounces of nonfat yogurt per day.
Type of Yogurt
The key to losing weight is to minimize the number of calories you consume, so nonfat plain yogurt is a better choice than low-fat or whole-milk yogurt. Nonfat plain yogurt has about 137 calories per cup, compared to 149 calories in the same quantity of whole-milk yogurt. Flavored yogurts contain more sugar, and thus, they contain more calories. Greek yogurt has about the same number of calories as regular yogurt if you choose nonfat, but whole Greek yogurt has about three times the fat of regular yogurt, making it higher in calories, as well. Greek yogurt also has only about one-third the calcium in regular yogurt, which means that you'd have to eat more for the potential weight-loss benefits.
You'll need to replace something else in your diet with yogurt if you want to lose weight, rather than add yogurt to what you'd typically eat. If you eat 18 ounces of plain, nonfat yogurt, you'll get about 308 calories. Eliminate enough processed foods, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages from your typical diet each day to make up for the increase in calories from yogurt.