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Ask the Diet Doctor: Which is Better: Nonfat Greek Yogurt or Full-Fat Greek Yogurt?

Q: "I know Greek yogurt is a good food for weight loss, but I’ve seen some experts recommend the fat-free version and others suggest full-fat Greek yogurt. Is one really better than the other?"

A: The major difference between full-fat Greek yogurt and fat-free Greek yogurt is the milk used during production: The full-fat version is made with whole milk, while the fat-free is made with skim milk. Nutritionally their fat content makes them very different, and while neither one is bad for you, there are situations when one is going to be a better choice than the other.

First let’s look at the nutritional breakdown of 1 cup of Fage’s Total Classic, which is full-fat, and 0%, which is nonfat.

 Total Classic0%
Total Fat110
Saturated Fat80
Total Carbohydrates99

As you can see, the 11 grams of fat difference plays a significant role in the calorie content of the yogurt. If you eat around 1,800 calories per day, than one cup of fat-free Greek yogurt is going to be an appropriate snack size, but if you eat more along the lines of 2,200 to 2,400 calories daily, full-fat Greek yogurt would be more appropriate for you.

I like full-fat Greek yogurt as a standalone snack. It is well rounded nutritionally, with a hefty dose of protein and fat that help you feel satiated, plus its creaminess makes it seems more indulgent than the nonfat version.

On the other hand, fat-free Greek yogurt allows you to be more versatile without creating a snack that’s too caloric. You can add some flaxseed meal or chia seeds and top with fresh raspberries, and your treat will have less than 300 calories.

The last piece to note nutritionally about the two yogurts is that since full-fat Greek yogurt is made with whole milk, it is going to have high saturated fat content. Eight grams in one cup shouldn’t send your diet into a tailspin, as it is only going to make up approximately 3 to 4 percent of your total calories. So even if you are following a low-saturated fat diet, you still have another 4 to 5 percent of calories from saturated fat to go.

The bottom line: Greek yogurt is an easy way to add more protein in your diet, so choose the variety that fits your diet and satisfies your taste buds.