Ah, summer, the season of cool creamy yogurt as a snack on a hot afternoon. That was pre-low carb though, right? Wrong! Gone are the days of passing by the yogurt at the grocery for fear of its high carb count. The truth is you CAN eat yogurt daily and still maintain a low carb lifestyle. Yogurt will have a minimum impact on your carb allowance and may improve your intestinal health to boot.
The Carb Question
The number of carbs in a cup of yogurt is a mystery to many low carbers. As a result, they simply shy away for fear of getting off track. I felt the same way, so I decided to find the answer to the perplexing question: ” What is the carb count in a 1 cup serving of yogurt?” I found my answer at the HiMoLoCarb™ diet website:
According to Jack M. Goldberg, Ph.D., and Dr. Karen O’Mara, a cup of yogurt has only 4 grams of carbohydrates. (Dr. Goldberg has actually measured this in his lab.) That is quite a difference from the 14 grams of carbohydrates listed on my yogurt container. The discrepancy can be attributed to the method by which the government requires manufacturers to measure carbohydrates. The “difference” method means manufacturers measure all the different components of a food and anything left is counted as carbohydrates.
Where Have All The Carbs Gone?
My inquisitive mind didn’t stop with the carb count question, though. I wanted more information. I needed to know where the “missing” carbohydrates went. What I found was a complex web of research that, when put in simple terms, is very easy to understand.
Yogurt starts as cream and/or milk. Live bacteria cultures are added, which produce curdling. Yogurt produced in the United States contains two specific live and active cultures of bacteria. Milk could not become yogurt without these cultures. The cultures metabolize most of the milk sugars, or lactose, turning it into lactic acid. It is the lactic acid that changes the consistency from liquid to a semisolid and gives the yogurt its unique flavor. Any left over lactose is counted as a carbohydrate. The remaining lactose (and there isn’t much) is digested by lactase, an enzyme present in the digestive system as well as produced by L-Acidophilus, a strain of “friendly bacteria” also added to some yogurt.
What Can Friendly Bacteria Do For Me?
It is estimated that several trillion friendly bacteria inhibit a human gastrointestinal tract. In fact, we carry around nearly 4 pounds of intestinal bacteria. When the intestines are healthy, the “good” bacteria out number the “bad.” The good bacteria are called probiotics. Probiotics, including L-Acidophilus, form a protective barrier to keep harmful bacteria out thus, maintaining good digestive health. Additional benefits include a stimulated immune system and relief from indigestion and diarrhea.
Lactose intolerant individuals will find that lactase, the enzyme important to the digestion of milk, which they lack, is also produced by probiotics. In fact, yogurt may be tolerated by the lactose sensitive because of this.
All Yogurts Are Not Created Equal
When buying yogurt, check the label carefully. Check the “sell by” date on the container. Yogurt will maintain its quality for up to 7 days after this date. The ideal yogurt should contain live and active cultures including L-Acidophilus. These are the probiotics so beneficial to intestinal health. Avoid artificial ingredients and don’t be afraid to buy the full fat variety. Additionally, take special care to check for sugar in the ingredient list.
I buy plain natural yogurt and add my own sweetener to taste. Try making your own yogurt at home. Yogurt making machines are available but not really necessary. Use store bought plain natural yogurt as your starter, and you’re on you way!
With picnic season in full swing, now is the perfect time to gather those summer recipes and start substituting. Use your imagination, how about yogurt in place of sour cream in your favorite dip and dressing recipes? One cup of yogurt contains about half the carbohydrates of a cup of sour cream. Here are some other quick low carb recipe ideas using yogurt:
- Dress up plain gelatin by adding yogurt. (See recipe below.)
- Substitute yogurt for cream in a protein shake.
- Fill half an avocado with 1/4 cup yogurt for a quick snack.
- Make yogurt cheese as an alternative to cream cheese. (See recipe below.)
- Use yogurt instead of buttermilk as a marinade for meat.
- 2 small boxes sugar free gelatin (any flavor)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 8 ounces plain yogurt
In a small mixing bowl, add the 2 cups boiling water to the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the yogurt. Refrigerate until firm.
Makes 6 1/2 cup servings.
Homemade Yogurt Cheese
Yogurt cheese is easy to make at home from plain yogurt. The consistency will be like spreadable cream cheese.
Line a strainer or a colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth or a single coffee filter, and place it over a container to catch the liquid.
Cover both the strainer and the container to prevent anything thing from falling into the draining yogurt and contaminating it. Refrigerate overnight or longer. The longer you let it drain, the firmer it becomes.
When the yogurt cheese reaches the desired consistency, place it in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve or use it.
One cup of yogurt will yield approximately one half cup of yogurt cheese.
*** Note: Save the liquid and use it in place of water in your favorite low carb muffin recipe.
One Yogurt, Many Benefits
Now that you have the facts about yogurt you can make it a part of your low carb lifestyle without fear of sabotaging your critical carbohydrate level. One cup of yogurt not only provides probiotics, which are beneficial to your health, it also contains 9 grams of protein and approximately 200 milligrams of calcium. With just 4 grams of carbohydrates per cup, yogurt is a great low carb food choice!