Fact Checked

What Is Low-Carb Yogurt?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

Low-carb yogurt is a type of dairy product that contains less sugar than other comparable options. Some yogurt brands simply contain no added sugar, while others have no sweeteners of any kind. Other products are specifically designed and marketed as low-carb yogurt, and often contain even fewer carbohydrates. Yogurt is a substance that is derived from milk, so there will always be some natural carbohydrates present due to the lactose. There is typically less lactose in fermented dairy products than a similar amount of milk though, due to the process that is used to create yogurt.

Yogurt is essentially milk that has been exposed to a bacterial culture that includes L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus. Milk contains a natural sugar known as lactose, which is processed by the bacterial culture. It is broken down into amino acids and changed into lactic acid, which then has a curdling effect on the milk. That results in the unique taste and texture of yogurt, and also a lower amount of lactose than is typically present in milk. Other types of bacteria, such as L. acidophilus, are often added either after the yogurt has been created, or during the culturing process.

Low-carb yogurt.
Low-carb yogurt.

Since much of the lactose present in milk is turned into lactic acid during the culturing process, yogurt tends to be naturally lower in carbohydrates than other dairy products. Many brands of yogurt include added sugar and corn syrup as sweeteners though, which can introduce a large volume of carbohydrates. Low-carb yogurt does not contain these additives, and can either be plain and unsweetened, or contain various non-nutritive sweeteners that do not add any carbohydrates. Some products that contain no added sugar are marketed as light or low calorie, while others are specifically referred to as low-carb yogurt; in either case the actual carbohydrate content should be marked on the label.

Many yogurts are already low-carb, even if they're not marketed that way.
Many yogurts are already low-carb, even if they're not marketed that way.

In some cases, yogurt also has fewer carbohydrates than the nutrition label states, due to the way that manufacturers are required to arrive at the measurement. For nutrition labels, the carbohydrates in a food are typically measured using the difference method, which involves subtracting the weight of components such as protein and fat from the total weight of the ingredients. The remainder is assumed to be carbohydrates, which is typically the case. That figure is usually not accurate for yogurt and other fermented dairy products since the lactose carbohydrates are largely converted into lactic acid. This means that as long as a product contains no added sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners, it may actually be low-carb yogurt even if it is not marketed that way.

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Discussion Comments


I usually buy plain yogurt for a number of reasons, low carb being one of the more important ones. I always strain my yogurt, even if it's Greek yogurt. It just tastes better that way.

I usually leave it in a couple of layers of cheesecloth in a strainer for a couple of hours. The strainer is always over a bowl, of course, to catch the whey.

After it's been strained, the yogurt is much thicker and creamier. Add some pureed fruit, and it's tough to remember why you ate the store-bought kind. I like my yogurt with strawberries or peaches.


Our local Kroger store carries a store brand called Carbmaster. It has something like 2 grams of carbs per container, so it works well as a breakfast for people like me, who are diabetic. And it tastes pretty good.

Plain, full fat Greek yogurt is usually not too high in carbs, but I always check the labels. If I want to flavor Greek yogurt, I may use a drizzle of honey or some vanilla flavoring. I want to be able to control the amount of sweetening in my yogurt, and using plain yogurt is a good way to do it.

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    • Low-carb yogurt.
      By: NilsZ
      Low-carb yogurt.
    • Many yogurts are already low-carb, even if they're not marketed that way.
      By: Anton Maltsev
      Many yogurts are already low-carb, even if they're not marketed that way.
    • A bowl of unsweetened, low-carb yogurt topped with fresh berries.
      By: Brent Hofacker
      A bowl of unsweetened, low-carb yogurt topped with fresh berries.