Greek yogurt is an excellent option for an early or mid-morning snack – especially for those on the go. It has an abundance of protein; and if you stick to the original Fage, lacks any of the additives that the health-conscious take pains to stay away from.
With that said, a lot of people don’t quite know the difference between regular yogurt and the Greek kind. For starters, the Greek option is definitely a meal for those trying to become leaner and lose the weight. The more traditional yogurt – the one that dominated supermarket store shelves in the years up to about 1998 (which is when Fage Greek yogurt landed on American shores and started to basically take over) – can be ridiculous cups of processed sugar, with a nutritional value not much better than pure ice cream.
The sugar in regular yogurt is the stuff that extends your belly outwards; it’s the fat feeder because all of it is added sugar. The Food & Drug Administration doesn’t count the sugar from fruits and complex carbs to the recommended value because that kind of predigested sugar is really quite good for your body and can be had in great quantities. It’s the processed sugar added to most packaged foods that’s a killer over the long term.
How to Distinguish Between the Yogurts
The most obvious thing about Greek yogurt is the amount of protein inside; it’s a lot more than what you’d find in regular yogurt. In fact, it’s more than double what you’d find; a single cup of plain Fage Total or 2% can contain as much as 23 grams of protein. Compare this to the fact that the Daily Recommended Value for protein intake for sedentary women and men is up to about 50 grams – which means a single serving of Greek yogurt gets you more than halfway there.
Now, just because it’s Greek yogurt doesn’t mean it is automatically good for you. As can be expected in a society dominated by competitive marketing, the once fully healthy Greek yogurt market has become saturated with all kinds of silly alterations that fly in the face of its Mediterranean origin. Greek yogurt has benefits, and you shouldn't undermine them by adding all sorts of unhealthy condiments.
There’s cookies n cream, chocolate-covered and other sugar-heavy additives in some brands. This defeats much of the purpose of switching to the Greek variety, which is why you must opt only for the plain kinds – whether you choose Fage, Oikos, Chobani or any of the other brands. Avoid the vanilla, honey and even fruit options, which cater to the American tendency to over-sweeten everything.
Add Your Own Stuff to Plain Greek Yogurt
Don’t take the above to mean that Greek yogurt with fruit is a bad thing; it’s not – not even close. It’s just that when the fruit is already added at the production plant, they invariably add processed sugar to it, too – to make sure it tastes better than the competition’s so that they don’t lose market share.
Fruits and other toppings, when added by you, ratchet up the benefits of the yogurt. From strawberries and mangoes to nuts and oats – even raw honey, which has tremendous digestion benefits – the options are almost limitless. Granola is another one and makes for a quick and essentially self-contained breakfast.
Many bodybuilders and athletes even add protein powder to their Greek yogurt, which increases the overall content of protein even more, and makes for a fuel-packed, muscle-repairing and muscle-building superfood.
So, in sum, get the plain Fage or another kind of Greek yogurt if you’re serious about your diet. Then, add the stuff you’d like to make it taste better yourself. This rings true even if you like semi-sweet chocolate chips or similar toppings; it’ll still be a lot better for you than if the store added the stuff.