Yogurts

The best yogurts for gestational diabetes

(*updated for 2019)
best yoghurts for gestational diabetes

Yogurt can be a great and quick breakfast, snack or ‘dessert’ which can keep blood sugar levels lower and stabilised. However, yogurt can also be packed with refined sugars, fruit and cereals making them a terrible choice on a gestational diabetes diet. So which yogurts are the best yogurts for us to pick?

*Since writing my original recommended yogurts page in 2016, many yogurts have been introduced onto the market and many older brands have reduced the amount of added sugar in their recipes. This means that the recommendations have changed slightly since I last reviewed best yogurts.

As per 3 of our 8 golden rules, we’re looking for yoghurts that are low in carbohydrates, high in natural fat, with good amounts of protein.

gestational diabetes diet 8 golden rules

Is yogurt classed a source of protein, fat, or a carbohydrate?

Yogurt is a tricky one as it typically contains all 3 macronutrients [carbs, fat and protein] and so needs to be considered a carb when thinking about the amount of carbs are on the plate.

Macronutrients impact on blood glucose

However, different types of yogurts contain varying amounts of each macronutrient and so a good yogurt can be used as a pairing tool for other carbs as it is so low carb and contains great amounts of natural fat and/or protein.

The carbs in dairy yogurts come from the lactose in the milk. Some women tolerate lactose better than others finding lactose has little impact on blood sugar levels. Whereas others may struggle with lactose.

Yogurts compared…

Best widely found branded yogurt

FAGE Total Greek Yogurt

The best widely found yogurt is an authentic strained Greek yogurt called Total made by FAGE.

The 5% version has 3.0g carbs, a decent 9.0g protein and 5.0g fat per 100g.

Fage Total has no artificial flavours, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and no protein powder. It is a rich and creamy yogurt which can be found in most shops and supermarkets in various sizes.

Best budget supermarket own brand yogurts

Lidl Milbona Greek Style Creamy Yogurt (full fat)

This Lidl yoghurt is a huge favourite in our Facebook group and that’s because it has everything we’re looking for, but at a fraction of the price compared to others.

It has 3.2g carbs, 4.6g protein and 10.0g fat per 100g.

It is available in a huge 1kg bucket size, which if you rely on this for breakfast and snacks every single day, can come in handy. It also comes in smaller sizes if needed.

Lidl Milbona Greek Style Creamy Yogurt
Aldi Brooklea Authentic Greek Yogurt

A cheaper alternative to some others (£1.39 500g), Aldi Brooklea Authentic Greek Yogurt is thick and creamy.

This yogurt has 3.7g carbs, 6.4g protein and 10.0g fat per 100g.

Best supermarket own brand Greek yogurt

Tesco Finest Greek Yogurt

Tesco Finest Greek Yogurt is a thick and creamy strained yogurt which is suitable for vegetarians. It was a close call between this and Waitrose 1 Authentic Greek Natural Strained yogurt, but I picked this over the Waitrose one due to the slightly higher protein content, the slightly lower price (£1.75 500g). Plus it is more widely available as our ladies in Ireland can also shop at Tesco. It has 3.8g carbs, 6.5g protein and 9.9g fat per 100g.

Just like Tesco and Waitrose, most supermarkets stock their own brand authentic Greek yogurt and the nutritional content is very similar, which makes these good choices.

Best low fat/fat free yogurts

We advocate choosing a high/full fat yogurt over a low fat/fat free alternative as the natural fats found in yogurt help slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. But those that need to follow a low fat diet for other health reasons e.g. higher fat triggering biliary colic caused by gallstones, or IBS, IBD e.t.c. may benefit from a yogurt that is low carb, low fat, yet high in protein.

fat free yogurts
  • Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt: 3.0g carbs, 10.3g protein and 0g fat per 100g
  • Graham’s Natural Skyr Icelandic style Yogurt: 3.7g carbs, 12.2g protein and 0.1g fat per 100g
  • Arla Skyr Simply Natural Icelandic style Yogurt: 4.0g carbs, 10.6g protein and 0.4g fat per 100g
  • Stores own brand plain fat free fromage frais yogurt

An Irish gem!

Glenisk Greek Style Natural Yogurt [Made in Ireland]

I couldn’t leave out this one as our Irish ladies could benefit from this yogurt! Glenisk Greek Style Organic Natural Yogurt has only 3.3g carbs, 2.8g protein and a lovely 11.0g fat per 100g.

Lowest carb flavoured yogurts

Flavoured yogurts can have the biggest variance in carb amounts and many contain added sugars. Ideally opt for natural or plain yogurt and add ingredients such as berries for flavour.

Below are some flavoured yogurts that could be tried if you really can’t eat plain yogurts, but if you look at any others check the total carbs per 100g and compare to the ones below.

A flavoured skyr or quark style yogurt may look the same as one of the ones below, but it may actually contain double, triple or more carbs than the ones suggested!

Lindahls Kvarg (Quark)

Nestlé have introduced a Swedish Quark (Kvarg) to our shelves which is very similar to Greek yogurt, but is actually a soft cheese. Quark is low in carbs, very low fat and high in protein.

The carbs range between 3.1g – 3.5g carbs, 11.0g – 11.3g protein and 0.2g – 0.6g fat per 100g. Each small pot is 150g, therefore 1 pot contains 5.25 grams of carbs, the equivalent of just over 1 teaspoon of sugar.

However one ingredient in Lindahls Kvarg which may be troublesome for some is the artificial sweetener aspartame.

Lindahls Kvarg
Danone Light and Free SKYR Yogurts

Skyr is a type of Icelandic style yogurt which is low in carbs, low in fat and high in protein.

Danone have launched 3 different flavoured Light & Free Skyr yogurts; Strawberry Stride, Blueberry Blast and Raspberry Razzle.

They range between 3.7g – 3.8g carbs, 9.1g – 9.2g protein and 0.5g fat per 100g. Each individual pot contains 150 grams of yogurt which can have up-to 5.7 grams of carbs, the equivalent of almost 1.5 tsp of sugar.

These fruit flavoured yogurts contain the sweetener steviol glycosides.

Arla fruit flavoured Protein yogurts, beware as these are higher in carbs!

These flavoured protein yogurts contain more total carbs than other yogurts but have a much higher protein content, meaning they may be tolerated by some ladies. They only have small amounts of fat, but the extra protein helps.

arla high protein yoghurt

We’ve had mixed reviews on the taste of these yoghurts (and the after taste), but they may be worth trying due to the high protein content and range of flavours available.

In the Arla Protein yogurts I compared, they ranged from 5.3g – 7.3g carbs (double to triple the amount of carbs in many of the recommended yogurts above), but they do have a great 10.0g protein but only a tiny 0.2g fat per 100g.

Be mindful that these pots contain 200g of yogurt, which can mean eating 14.6g carbs in one pot, which is the equivalent of just over 3.5 tsp of sugar!

Fruit flavoured yogurts have been the biggest change when comparing yogurts since my last post. Since the sugar tax on drinks and better general awareness over added sugars in products, many brands have reduced or removed added sugar in their yogurt

Best dairy free and vegan yogurt alternative

The lowest carb yogurt that can be bought is actually a yogurt alternative. Alpro soya plain yogurts have the lowest carbs per 100g!

  • Alpro Plain unsweetened; ZERO carbs, 4.0g protein, 2.3g fat.
  • Alpro Simply Plain; 2.1g carbs, 4.0g protein, 2.3g fat
  • Alpro Plain with Almond; 2.3g carbs, 3.9g protein, 2.8g fat
  • Alpro Plain with Coconut; 2.3g carbs, 3.9g protein, 3.0g fat
  • Alpro Greek style Plain; 2.6g carbs, 5.8g protein, 3.3g fat
  • Alpro Plain with Oats; 3.0g carbs, 3.8g protein, 2.0g fat
Alpro simply plain
CO YO Organic Natural Dairy Free Coconut Milk Yogurt

If soya is a problem for anyone who needs a dairy free or vegan yogurt alternative, then a great option is CO YO Organic Natural Dairy Free Coconut Milk Yogurt.

With only 3.6g carbs, 1.9g protein but a whopping 23.0g of fat per 100g, this coconut yogurt is a great choice!

Jazz up your natural yogurt

There are literally tons of suitable yogurts to choose from out there, but these are just a few of the better choices above.

If you prefer flavoured yogurts, you can easily add flavour to natural/plain yogurts and have much better control over what you are eating rather than buying flavoured yogurt which may contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

Here’s some ideas to try:

  • a few berries or cherries
  • 1 x chopped kiwi
  • half a grated granny smith apple (skin included)
  • lemon or lime juice and zest
  • natural sweetener such as xylitol, Sukrin, erythritol, or pure stevia
  • fresh ginger
  • seeds from a vanilla pod
  • cinnamon
  • unsweetened coconut
  • peanut or nut butter
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • a small greener banana
  • Sweet Freedom choc shot
  • agave nectar
  • zero carb syrup
  • grated dark chocolate
  • a tablespoon of *cooked apple and cinnamon
  • a tablespoon of *cooked rhubarb
  • a tablespoon of *cooked gooseberries

When adding fruit to yoghurt it increases the carbohydrate content as fruits are high in fructose. The same applies to adding things like chocolate, choc shot and agave nectar

To help to ‘pair’ or counter balance this additional carbohydrate you could add nuts and seeds which are packed with protein and healthy fats. You could also add a splash of real double cream.

*Cooked fruits have been broken down in the cooking process and so the sugars can be more easily absorbed. If you want to try adding cooked fruit to yogurt, ensure there has been no sugar or honey etc. added in the cooking process. We have a recipe for rhubarb crumble which explains how to cook fruit to keep the carbs minimal.

Lower carb fruits

For more on food pairing please take a look at our 8 golden rules of eating which can be found here.

Serving sizes versus the nutritional info

It is very unlikely that we actually consume only 100g of yogurt

A small pot of yogurt and the most common size multipack yogurts contain 120g – 125g. A yogurt the size of a Müllerlight contains 175g. The big pots contain around 400 – 500g and the ones like the bucket of yogurt from Lidl contain 1kg!

Bear this in mind when selecting your yogurt and choosing how much to eat. When starting the diet and checking your tolerance, it’s best to start with a small amount and then increase the amount depending on your readings.

4 heaped tablespoons is a good starting point and is a very rough measure of 100g of yogurt

Goats milk yogurts

If you prefer goats milk products, then you will pleased to hear that plain goats milk yogurt is fairly low carb, has good amounts of protein and fat, making it suitable yogurt to eat with gestational diabetes.

Authentic Greek yogurt versus Greek-style yogurt?

Greek yogurt is more beneficial than other yogurts as it is much higher in protein and unlike Skyr Icelandic style yogurt and Quark, it can also have plenty of good natural fat.

Authentic Greek yogurt is made by fermenting milk with live bacteria cultures. Greek yogurt is then strained multiple times to remove the whey (the water) and create the thick creamy texture.

Greek-style yoghurt, is not strained and often contains artificial thickeners such as gelatin or gums which are added to create a thicker, creamy texture and to give a longer shelf life. This is something to bear in mind if you are vegetarian.

Quark (or kvarg)

Quark is actually a soft cheese that has the same consistency as very thick yogurt or cream cheese. Unlike yogurt which has cultures added to it, quark has lemon juice (or another acidic product) added, then is heated to drain the whey.

It is very bland in flavour, is very low fat (or fat free), low carb, but contains good amounts of protein.

This means that Quark or Kvarg may be a good addition to the gestational diabetes diet, although due to the very low fat in this product, some may benefit from adding some natural fats.

What about diet yogurts like Müllerlights?

Many diet yogurts are higher in carbs. A Müllerlight strawberry yogurt for example, contains 7.0g carbs per 100g (around double the amount of carbs compared to the suggestions above). This means that in one 175g pot, there is the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of sugar with no fat and less protein to help pair the carbs.

Müllerlights also contain aspartame artificial sweetener and so it is for these reasons that I advocate natural, full fat yogurts over diet alternatives such as Müllerlights.

Kefir yogurt and milk

Kefir milk and yogurts may provide additional benefits to blood sugar levels. A study of 60 patients with type 2 diabetes found that kefir milk decreased the fasting blood glucose and HbA1C levels​1​

Kefir milk is a probiotic fermented milk. You can purchase kefir milk ready made or you can make it yourself at home with kefir grains.

You can now purchase kefir quark and yogurts…

Yogurt, so much more than ‘just a yogurt’

Don’t forget that yogurt can be used in lots of different ways to help compliment your gestational diabetes diet.

Yogurt is great for making dips, sauces, dressings and curries with! I also use it in quite a few of my GD UK recipes as shown below…

Nutritional information for this article was accessed online on 14 June 2019. Please note that nutritional information and ingredients may change at any time and so it is always best to check the product label before purchasing.

Whilst over 100 brands of yogurts were checked and compared, this list is far from exhaustive as nutritional information for many brands are not available to check online and I cannot buy and check all yogurts!

Supporting local farmers

Many locally sourced and produced natural pasteurised yogurts will be suitable for a gestational diabetes diet to achieve optimal blood glucose control and so please remember to support your local farmers and producers.

Use this interactive map to help find local dairy farms that may supply dairy products local to you

References

  1. 1.
    OSTADRAHIMI A. Effect of Probiotic Fermented Milk (Kefir) on Glycemic Control and Lipid Profile In Type 2 Diabetic Patients: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Iranian Journal of Public Health. 2015;44(2):228-237. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4401881/.