Is yogurt forbidden in a keto diet? With Yes and No answers all over the internet, one is often immersed in a dilemma revolving around the consumption of yogurt. The simple answer is that a specific type of yogurt finds its berth on the keto menu, one that is high-fat and low-carb.
So, How to Eat Yogurt on A Keto Diet
In other words, how to procure one that is low in carbohydrates, given the fact that numerous brands and flavors with various added ingredients are out there, adding to the confusion.
The good news is that the overwhelmingly high number of options available commercially can be filtered out. What it boils down to is a ‘custom-made’ yogurt, complying with the keto plan.
So, What Is the Keto Plan?
The ketogenic diet puts the body in ketosis, a metabolic state, wherein the body uses fat for energy and not carbohydrates. The basic rule of a keto plan is to consume more fats, some proteins, and drastically reduce carb intake.
Now that we know the concept of the keto diet, let’s get to know more about yogurt and all the available options.
All About Yogurt:
- What is yogurt
- Why do we need yogurt?
- Ingredients of yogurt
- Various kinds of yogurt and sugar content
What Is Yogurt – Traditional Food with Good Nutritional Quotient
A dairy food that is produced by fermentation of milk. The most commonly used milk is cow’s milk. Goat milk and buffalo milk are also used; goat milk is a popular alternative due to its low lactose levels. Other options or, more specifically, the vegan choices that surfaced not too long ago include coconut milk, almond milk, cashew nut milk, soymilk, and rice milk.
The lactose (or the sugars) in the milk are converted into lactic acid by the bacteria (also called starter cultures) introduced in the milk to make yogurt. It is the lactic acid that imparts the creamy texture and the tart flavor to yogurt.
Why do we need yogurt? Basically, for good immune health. Yogurt is packed with calcium, protein, vitamin B, and minerals, including potassium and magnesium.
Additionally, yogurt ensures a good gut. Probiotics in the yogurt enhance digestive health and ease symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Yogurt, specifically, Greek yogurt is rich in protein and aids in weight management due to the fullness it promotes.
How Is Greek Yogurt Different from Regular Yogurt?
Greek yogurt is basically concentrated regular yogurt, made by straining whey and any other liquid. While removing whey, lactose gets taken out too, making the yogurt a good source of protein, in addition to lowering its carbohydrate content.
Else, the method of making the yogurt and the ingredients, including bacteria used in either case, is the same. Greek yogurt turns out to be more expensive as the volume of milk required to make the concentrated yogurt is more than that required for regular yogurt. Additionally, regular yogurt is sweeter when compared to Greek yogurt.
Despite Greek yogurt being a relatively low-carb and moderately high protein yogurt, it doesn’t necessarily qualify it to become keto-friendly. The carbohydrate intake prescribed for a ketogenic diet is 50gms or less.
Though there is no strict number attached to the amount of carbohydrates, you have to limit the carbohydrates in the range of 20 to 50 grams for the best results from a keto plan. Do not be misled by the Greek yogurt label.
Ingredients of Yogurt
Traditionally, yogurt comprises only milk and bacteria (called yogurt cultures). Streptococcus thermophilus and lactobacillus bulgaricus are the commonly used starter cultures. However, the commercial yogurt ingredient list varies quite a bit owing to the additional ingredients such as flavoring, preservatives, sugar, emulsifiers, and fruit.
A quick comparison of sugar in various kinds of store-bought yogurt sheds some light on which yogurt to pick.
For an 8oz cup, the numbers are:
- Fat-Free Greek – 9gms
- Fat-Free yogurt with fruit – 47gms
- Fat-Free yogurt plain – 19gms
- Whole milk plain – 11gms
Without much of a thought, the fat-free options get eliminated from the keto diet as the main criteria for a keto diet is low sugar and high-fat. Moving onto the whole milk, the numbers for sugars are still high. But wait, before you strike off yogurt from the keto menu, let’s see if yogurt can be made to ensure keto standards.
Though yogurt from the store does not entirely or always fit the bill, including the plain, unsweetened one and, even the commercially available Greek yogurt threatens to nudge you out of a keto diet, the homemade yogurt helps stay on course.
Yes, you heard it right. There exists a low-carb, high-fat yogurt with plenty of gut-friendly bacteria that you can make by yourself using full-fat milk.
Thanks to yogurt makers like this: Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker, one can enjoy the benefits of yogurt without straying from the keto plan. Ideally, the yogurt is ready within 10 hours using this yogurt maker. But, for a keto yogurt, a 24 hr incubation period is necessary.
This yogurt maker permits leaving it ON for 24hrs as it does not Auto switch OFF, and thus, the desired yogurt can be made, whether the traditional dairy version or the many vegan alternatives.
What Makes It Different from Commercial Yogurt?
Simply put, the two deciding factors are temperature and time of the process. One can have full control of these aspects, including ingredients, by switching to homemade yogurt, made with the easy to use a yogurt maker.
Let’s walk through the steps involved in the yogurt making process and see how the commercial process is different.
Milk contains carbohydrates called lactose. The active bacteria introduced to the milk convert the lactose to lactic acid. Along the way, carbohydrates get reduced. The bacteria render a sour taste to the yogurt as they eat away the sugar (or lactose).
Despite the reduction in carbohydrates, it does not suffice to qualify for a keto diet when processed commercially as the fermentation time is limited to a maximum of 8 hours.
On the contrary, the Euro cuisine yogurt maker allows a 24hr fermentation process at a temperature of 100F. It is a relatively low-temperature process compared to most yogurt-making procedures that involve higher heat and are a lot quicker.
Leaving the milk to incubate for 24hrs ensures low-carb, high probiotic yogurt with the bacteria slowly eating away nearly all of the carbohydrates.
The 24hr yogurt process under low heat has a cool aspect with regards to microbes. It is 700 billion CFUs (colony formation units) for the 24hr low heat process vs. 1 to 5 billion CFUs when it comes to yogurt using commercial methods.
In the former process, the enormous number of microbes make sure there is hardly any lactose remaining towards the end of the process, making it really low carb.
What you are left with is sour yogurt with calcium, protein, vitamin B, and fat, just what we are looking for in a ketogenic diet.
Things to Watch Out for When Shopping for Yogurt Making Ingredients
Points to bear in mind when making yogurt by yourself are to choose a good yogurt making machine and grass-fed organic milk, so you do not add hormones to your body. Experts are inclined to raw milk, particularly raw goat milk, for the keto yogurt recipe, provided it is legal in the area you reside in.
Selecting the appropriate yogurt starter is as important as the machine and milk chosen. They are available to purchase as freeze-dried yogurt starters. The package comes with directions regarding the quantity to be used.
Making sure that more starter is not added is essential as the bacteria will fall short of food and the yogurt turns out to be slimy. Too less starter is again a concern as the yogurt will be milky and does not meet the nutrition criteria though safe to consume.
To sum it up, a newbie trying to make yogurt at home for the first time must check for:
- Temperature variation – ensure you don’t leave the yogurt maker too close to a door or window.
- Use the right amount of yogurt starter.
- Heat the milk slowly.
Always keep in mind, for a keto diet, the yogurt you choose should be natural, whole fat and, plain (without artificial sweeteners). Opt for real fruit as a sweetener. The best way to ensure the yogurt is keto is going with the home-made route.
Putting all controversy to rest, a ‘keto-yogurt’ can be eaten while on a ketogenic diet. However, having control over the ingredients and the culturing process is essential to ensure it meets the strict keto plan requirement.
A home-made yogurt that is a combination of good fat, low-carbs, moderate protein, and bacteria that are gut-friendly, made using a reliable yogurt maker with the 24-hour, low-temperature process ( nearly 110F) makes for a healthy, keto-friendly menu item.