How Many Carbs Are There In Yogurt? 

 July 15, 2023

By  Diane Miles

All dairy products are best known for the calcium and protein they lend to your diet. But most dairy products will also have some amounts of carbohydrates, owing to the presence of lactose or milk sugar — be it yogurt, cheese or butter. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you can certainly incorporate yogurt in your meals. But you need to know which type of yogurt to pick. Not all kinds of yogurts have the same characteristics. Depending on how they are made and what kind of milk is used to make the yogurt, the nutrients may differ. Here’s the low down on the carbohydrates in your yogurt.

When you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, yogurt may seem like a healthy enough replacement for all the other types of food you may be looking to replace in your diet. But different kinds of yogurt have different carbohydrate content. Not all of them are suitable for consumption if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet.

Fruits in Yogurt

Plain yogurt (meaning one that is not artificially sweetened or flavored), typically, has a standard amount of carbohydrates. On average, the following are the nutritional facts regarding plain yogurt. A 6-ounce serving will typically have:

  • Whole milk yogurt - 8 gms of carbs
  • Whole milk Greek yogurt - 7 gms of carbs
  • Low-fat yogurt - 12 gms of carbs
  • Skim milk/ non-fat milk - 13 gms of carbs

If you notice, the yogurt made from non-fat milk ends up having the most amount of carbohydrates. So there is definite math that goes into making yogurt for a low-carb diet and it is not as simple as picking the low-fat version and expecting it to be low on carbohydrates too. You may think that the yogurt will have the same amount of carbohydrates as the milk it is made from. But this is certainly not the case. The latter part of this article will delve into how that happens. But before that, let’s find the answers to the main question.

Which Yogurt Is Best for a Low Carb Diet?

When you are buying yogurt for a low-carb diet, the best way to be sure is to read the labels carefully. Yogurt contains lactose or milk sugar, which is a natural carbohydrate. Lactose is what lends plain milk a slightly sweet flavor. Plain yogurt, which is unsweetened, is your best bet when following a low-carb diet. The carbohydrates in this kind of yogurt are from the natural lactose and not from any added sugar. The following are some different kinds of yogurt you can pick for a low-carb diet. 

Yogurt in Glass Cup

At all times, be sure to read the nutrition labels carefully:

  • Whole Milk Plain Yogurt - Whole milk plain yogurt is not as likely to be thickened with milk powder as yogurt made from low fat, skim milk. The latter often uses extra milk powder and other types of carbohydrates to give the yogurt a thicker, creamier consistency.
  • Plain, Whole Milk Greek-style Yogurt - Greek-style yogurt is one of the best options for a low-carb diet. It is made traditionally in a way that strains the whey out of the milk, therefore reducing the number of carbs. Making your own Greek yogurt with a yogurt strainer is a way to lower the carb count even further by fermenting longer and not adding extra flavoring.

Things to Avoid

Being tricked into buying the wrong kind of yogurt, because of an advertisement you saw, can be very detrimental to your diet. If you are avoiding carbohydrates for health reasons, you need to be all the more careful about what you are putting into your body. The following are types of yogurt you should be careful to avoid as there’s a greater chance they will be higher in carbohydrate content.

  • Low-fat and nonfat yogurts, while attractive if you are watching your weight, tend to be high on carbohydrate content. These yogurts are generally made from skim milk which requires additional milk powder and other additives to make it thick and creamy.
Flavored Yogurt
  • Flavored yogurts tend to be higher in carbohydrate content. To enhance the flavor, of the fruit or whatever else has been added to the yogurt; manufacturers also often add sugar. Sugar, as you know, is a primary source of simple carbohydrates.

When you are reading the label, be careful that you also make note of the serving size as what you may assume to be the serving size may be more than what the manufacturers intended. By not making note of this you may end up consuming more carbohydrates than you intended. 

If you find plain yogurt to be too bland, add your own toppings. This allows you to be in control of how many carbohydrates you are consuming. You can add your own fruit toppings or a few nuts (within your carb limit). Even plain yogurt can become exciting to eat.

Why Does the Carb Content Differ so Much in Yogurt?

Every type of yogurt has a different carbohydrate content. The main reason for this is that they may be made from different types of milk. While yogurt made from whole cow milk may have a certain amount of carbohydrate content, yogurt made from soy milk will have different levels of carbohydrates. Yogurt is made from adding bacteria or a live culture to milk to ferment it. This bacteria converts the lactose or milk sugar into lactic acid, which is not a carbohydrate. However, the yogurt you buy at the store is likely to have some trace of carbohydrates depending on how it is made and what additives are included. The following are some reasons why the carbohydrate content differs from yogurt to yogurt and manufacturer to manufacturer.

Added Milk Powder

Even plain yogurt may require additives like milk powder depending on the thickness of the milk it is made with. If it is made with whole milk, the yogurt tends to be thicker and therefore does not require additives. But if it is non-fat milk made with skim milk, milk powder will need to be added at some point to make the yogurt creamy and thick. The milk powder contains lactose which increases the carb content of the yogurt. The probiotics digest the initial carbohydrate by converting the lactose into lactic acid. But the additional milk powder adds more carbohydrate. Plain yogurt made from whole milk is the healthiest option for you if you are on a low-carb diet. 


While the bacteria introduced in the milk is meant to digest all the lactose and convert it into lactic acid and take the carbohydrate content down to 4 grams from 12 grams per cup, this is not always the case with commercially produced yogurt. In mass-produced, commercially made yogurt, the process of fermentation is stalled well before the carbohydrate content can go down so low. This means that most yogurt, even if it is plain yogurt made with whole milk will have at least a minimal amount of carbohydrates - 4 grams or above.

Fermentation Process is Stalled

As mentioned above, the process of fermentation is stalled before the live yogurt starter culture can digest all the carbohydrates. This is done by removing the now set yogurt from warm temperatures and allowing it to cool before the live culture can convert all the lactose. This is done so that the bacteria does not continue to ferment the milk even after packaging. While fermentation can still take place when the milk becomes cool, the most effective and steady process of fermentation is when the milk is still warm. In effect, the live cultures fermentation process is stalled. 

If the live culture is allowed to thrive, the process of fermentation will still continue even after the yogurt has been packaged. But after digesting a certain amount, enough lactic acid will be created and the bacteria will become dormant on its own accord. If you are looking for an even lower carbohydrate amount, pick a yogurt that specifies it has “live culture.”

Greek-Style Yogurt

Greek-style yogurt tends to have the lowest amount of carbohydrates as the process involves straining the whey. The whey, essentially the liquid part of the yogurt, has the main carbohydrate content in the yogurt. When it is strained, the carbohydrate content automatically reduces. Even if you have bought plain yogurt from the store, you can drain the whey out yourself at home using a coffee filter and a strainer. 

Berries in Yogurt

When the yogurt arrives at the consistency you want after a few hours, the low-carb yogurt is ready to be consumed. Another advantage of straining yogurt is that the concentrated Greek yogurt has more protein and fewer carbs.

Final Thoughts

Yogurt is a delicious, healthy treat that can enhance every meal of yours. While it is extremely beneficial for health, there are some ingredients and elements that can derail your diet. Do not be fooled by non-fat and skimmed versions as they will have other additives to make up for the flavor and texture. Always check the nutrition label for anything you are buying at the store, but especially for yogurt. The dairy product is celebrated for its health benefit. But do not go simply by rhetoric. Make an informed choice while picking the healthiest yogurt. You can also make yogurt at home, according to your own requirements, using a yogurt maker.

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