Whether it’s for shedding a few pounds, training for a half-marathon or building muscle, yogurt is the ultimate snack, provided you choose wisely. Why? The balance of low-GI carbs and satiating protein will help repair and add muscle bulk, ensure a sustained release of energy and keep hunger pangs at bay. What’s more, the calcium it contains may help your body store less fat, and the probiotics can ease tummy trouble.
While “low-fat” varieties may appear the obvious choice, they’re often full of sugar to make up for the loss of flavor. The yogurt label shown here lists 25 grams of total sugar, making it relatively high in added sugar. Yogurt already has a fair amount of naturally occurring sugar in the form of lactose (roughly 9-12 grams in a 6-ounce container of plain regular yogurt). Every 4 grams on top of that equals a teaspoon of added sugar – so you’re getting an extra 3 teaspoons of sugar in this low-fat yogurt.
Label watch: Your best bet is to stick to plain yogurt and simply add your own flavor like honey, cinnamon or chopped fresh fruit. Pay attention to the serving size. Stick to 200 calories or less.
IMPROVING YOUR WELL-BEING
When it comes to yogurt, bone-building calcium and probiotics (good bacteria) are a major health draw — however, the amount of each can vary from brand to brand.
Label watch: Choose a yogurt that lists calcium on the label to ensure you’re reaching your daily calcium requirements (aim for at least 15 percent of the daily value for calcium). As for probiotics, check the packet or ingredients list for a yogurt that contains live or active cultures.
Eating good-quality foods post workout is crucial, especially when it comes to adding muscle bulk. Yogurt’s nutrient content provides a combination of carbs and protein to jumpstart muscle repair and growth.
Label watch: A typical 6-ounce serving of yogurt will provide 5 grams of protein per serving. This yogurt contains 10 grams per serving — a good choice to satisfy even the most demanding muscles.
Heading out for a long run or cycle? Barring any sensitivities to dairy, meals should be based on nutrient-rich carbohydrate foods such as dairy, which provides carbohydrates in the form of the milk sugar, lactose. What’s more, the carb-protein ratio in yogurt will help prevent sugar from entering your bloodstream too quickly, so you don’t crash and burn.
Label watch: Due to very high energy requirements for endurance events, a little added sugar in this yogurt provides a useful additional source of carbohydrates.