You have probably wondered about a myriad of diary products since going Paleo. They are embedded in our culture, and staying away from them is quite a difficult task. But is all diary forbidden on the Paleo diet?
Yogurt sometimes falls in no man’s land. It kind of isn’t here nor there. It is considered healthy food that has many benefits and few drawbacks. But there are still some folks in the Paleo world that won’t even look at this diary legend.
Today, we’ll focus on Greek Yogurt, not its liquid brother. But since they are so similar, you can apply whatever information we give you here to the regular stuff.
So with all that said, we arrive at the question – Can you eat greek yogurt on Paleo?
Do the benefits of this probiotic meal make it worth the risks? Well, we plan on giving you all the information we can gather so you can decide. Let’s get going.
Can You Eat Greek Yogurt On Paleo?
There is a short answer to this question and a long one. The short answer is NO. You can not eat greek yogurt on the Paleo diet.
The rules are quite clear. You can eat: lean meats, fish, veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts – everything else is off the table.
But Greek yogurt could make you think twice. There are people who say that diary is completely forbidden. But some argue that yogurt, and the health benefits that it brings, allow some bending of that rule.
But we want the full story here, so you can make up your own mind about the whole situation. All nutrition should be knowledge-based.
What Is Greek Yogurt?
Yogurt and Greek yogurt are pretty much the same things. The difference is in the texture.
Greek yogurt is just plain yogurt that has been strained. This makes it thicker and creamier – but doesn’t affect the nutritional values. What could affect them is adding processed sugars and other substances that make it tastier but unhealthier. More on that later.
Greek yogurt goes by a lot of names throughout the world. Strained yogurt is the one we already mentioned. Another one is sack yogurt, kerned yogurt, and last but not least – yogurt cheese. The last one could cause the most confusion, but the reasoning is connected to the process with which Greek yogurt is made.
Greek yogurt is usually made from milk that has all its whey removed. Whey is where we find most of the lactose. The taste level then gets bumped up by boiling down the water content or by adding butterfat, and/or powdered milk.
The result is a creamier and tastier version of yogurt, which could potentially be inferior to the original – and there are some good reasons for that.
Yogurt is the food that finds its way into the Paleo conversion, and the arguments are usually health-related. Now, if you are lactose intolerant, you probably don’t even want to consider all this diary talk. But even those who have health problems that are related to dairy products, sometimes try yogurt. It’s a heck of a probiotic, that can fill your gut full of healthy bacteria culture.
But yogurt, like all foods in today’s world, isn’t always just yogurt – and the Greek variant is no different. What we mean by that is that companies are known for adding a LOT of unnecessary substances to yogurt. After all, food today is filled with sugars and unhealthy fats. If yogurt plans on competing with the other foods at the store – it, unfortunately, needs to be sweeter. And that’s where we run into the problems. As we said, when you take the whey out of the equation, you get lower levels of lactose. And when there’s no natural milk sugar present – an alternative is added.
Sugar – The Usual Suspect
Milk already has sugar in it and that sugar is called lactose. There is plenty of lactose to be found, the people who can’t tolerate it know it best. But the taste of plain Greek yogurt can be something that the general public just isn’t accustomed to. So sugar is added and with it health risks.
When buying your Greek yogurt, check the packaging. If there are more than 6 grams of sugar in your cup, put it right back. The standard serving size of greek yogurt (and milk for that matter) contain somewhere around 6 grams lactose. So anything over that is just refined sugar.
Sugar should not be in your Paleo diet at all. So if you are already risking bending the rules to implement a diary product for its health benefits, it containing sugar is a heck of a red flag.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s not all belly fat and muffin tops when it comes to sugar. The health risks can be quite serious.
When you consume sugar on a daily basis, it starts taking up a lot of real estate in your blood. Glucose starts to outnumber all else, and your usual defender insulin can’t handle the pressure. Your body tries to give you so much insulin that it gets very difficult for it to even produce it anymore. And that’s when you’ve developed diabetes.
Needless to say, sugar should be avoided at all costs. So if someone tried to trick you into eating it by packing your Greek Yogurt Full of it – outsmart them and just leave it on the shelf!
Health Benefits Of Greek Yogurt
So let’s say you checked the nutritional values and you made the decision to try and implement Greek yogurt in your diet. What benefits can you hope for?
Healthy Skeleton, Healthy Human
Greek yogurt is full of calcium and has quite a bit of protein in it, so your bones are going to be very thankful for a cup every once in a while. Healthy bones mean that the risk of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease, is lowered.
Just like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is a probiotic. And a good one at that. Probiotics are bacterias, the good kind. Consuming foods that contain them brings good bacterial balance to the gut. This can be more important than you think.
Several studies have shown that probiotics can positively affect mental health. People who eat 100 grams of probiotics per day (or take a probiotic pill) have fewer chances of having anxiety, depression, or stress problems.
There’s no complicated explanation here. Greek yogurt contains a healthy amount of protein, which means your muscles will regenerate quickly after heavy workouts. Sure, the amount isn’t on par with some protein supplements you can buy – but it’s always nice to have some extra protein in your diet.
Lowering The Risks Of Type 2 Diabetes
The one thing that Greek yogurt (or any yogurt) has that other dairy products don’t, is the ability to help the body process blood sugar. This might seem confusing because we mentioned a moment ago that sugar levels in store-bought Greek yogurt tend to be high. But those are terrible exceptions, not rules. Real Greek yogurt should have very low levels of sugar and can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. The paradox of adding sugar to it seems even dumber now, we know.
The Nutritional Values Of Greek Yogurt
Let’s take a look and see what kind of story the nutritional values tell. Yogurt usually has the reputation of being a food that should be consumed daily. That usually means the values are on a low and healthy level.
Nutritional Values of Greek Yogurt
As we can see, those are some healthy values! The fiber is at zero, yes, but your metabolism will be just fine without it. Yogurt takes care of everything even without the fiber.
The protein numbers are understandably great and fat is low, but it should be enough to fuel you up for a good portion of the day.
Like we said, keep those sugar levels low, if you have the time we suggest making homemade yogurt. That way you can know exactly how much sugar is used.
All in all, your trash can shouldn’t be filled up with empty cups of Greek Yogurt, but healthy portions on a daily basis are just fine!
Now that you have all the information, we hope you can decide for yourself. Dairy products can be tricky when on the Paleo diet. Some people will still just reject implementing them in their Diets, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s nothing wrong will Bringing some Greek Yogurt to the mix either.
You should be careful though, not everybody reacts the same way to diary products. So if you’ve been off them for a long time, take your time with reintroducing them to your body.
Whatever your decision may be, just be smart and always enjoy whatever you’re eating!