Is Greek Yogurt Good or Bad for Bodybuilding? (Dietitian Answers)

Greek yogurt is an easy snack option most people have in their fridge, but is it a good choice for bodybuilders? 

Here’s my quick answer…

Greek yogurt is good for bodybuilding because it’s high in protein, which can help with muscle growth and recovery. It will also keep you full longer, a benefit for those who struggle with satiety.

It is important, however, to be mindful of the fat and sugar content that is in some store-bought Greek yogurt.

Key Takeaways

  • Greek yogurt is easy to eat on the go and can be a good alternative to other animal-based protein sources if you’re getting tired of eating meat.
  • Unsweetened, fat-free Greek yogurt is best for bodybuilding because you get a higher percentage of protein and less fat and sugar. However, if you’re bulking, a high-fat Greek yogurt can help you reach your calorie goals more easily.
  • Greek yogurt is good to eat before or after a workout, though you may want to add carbs (such as fruit or granola) to give you more energy and promote recovery.

Eating Greek Yogurt for Bodybuilding: Overview

greek yogurt for bodybuilding

The calories within Greek yogurt will differ a bit depending on the percentage of fat it is and whether it is sweetened. 

The option I recommend is 0% unsweetened which has the following macros per ¾ cup serving:

  • 108 calories
  • 19g of protein
  • 7g of carbs
  • 1g of fat 

3 Pros of Eating Greek Yogurt For Bodybuilding

The pros of eating Greek yogurt for bodybuilders are:

1. Greek Yogurt Is a Low-Fat Protein Source

Greek yogurt is high in protein which is essential for bodybuilders to build muscle. Since it’s also low in fat, by eating Greek yogurt, you can get enough protein without eating too many calories and gaining fat.

For a lean physique like most bodybuilders are looking for, research shows that we want to aim for 5g of protein for every 1g of fat. 

This will make sure you are getting the fat you need for healthy hormones while also getting enough protein to maximize muscle building. 

Greek yogurt with a fat percentage of 0-2% has this ratio or better, making it a great protein source for bodybuilders.

Greek yogurt is particularly beneficial for vegetarians as most other high-quality protein sources are meat

2. Greek Yogurt Keeps Us Full for Longer

Greek yogurt takes longer to digest, keeping you full for longer after you eat, this is especially helpful for bodybuilders who are cutting.

When bodybuilders are cutting, they are consuming fewer calories than they are burning in a day which can often cause hunger. 

Eating food like Greek yogurt that is slow-digesting can help keep you full for longer after you eat. 

By keeping you full longer, you are also less likely to find yourself reaching for a snack between meals. 

Many snacks like chips or granola bars are high in calories causing you to eat more than what would result in successful weight loss. 

3. Greek Yogurt Is Easy To Consume

Greek yogurt is easy to consume on the go or add to a snack or meal, which is beneficial for bodybuilders that have busy lifestyles.

Many bodybuilders find it easy to get protein in their meals but struggle with how to incorporate a high-protein snack into their day-to-day life, especially while at work or on the go.

Greek yogurt can easily be packed in Tupperware and eaten on the go. Add nuts, fruit, and/or cereal to make it more of a complete snack. 

“[Greek yogurt is] rich in protein and so easy to eat as a snack or on the go. Just one serving of a Greek yogurt can add about 18 grams of protein into your day.”

Tracy Lesht, MS, RD, LDN

4. Greek Yogurt Can Replace Other Animal-Based Protein Sources You May Be Tired of Eating

Greek yogurt can be helpful when bulking and you are already consuming large amounts of meat. 

My bodybuilding clients often tell me when bulking, they start to lose their taste for meat and don’t enjoy it. When this happens, I recommend trying vegetarian protein options that are high in whey protein like Greek yogurt that you enjoy consuming.

5. Greek Yogurt Is High in Calcium

Greek yogurt is high in calcium, with 336 mg per ¾ cup serving. Calcium is necessary for bone health and important body functions, such as nerve function and muscle contractions.

Muscle contraction is especially important for athletes. When your muscles can contract better, they can generate more force, allowing you to train with more intensity so that you can get bigger and stronger.

6. Greek Yogurt Is High in Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria found in fermented foods, like Greek yogurt. They’re considered “good” bacteria that can help keep you healthy.

One of the main benefits of probiotics is that they can help your body absorb more nutrients, leading to better overall health and more energy. As a result, you’ll be able to get through tough workouts more easily and recover better.

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3 Cons of Eating Greek Yogurt For Bodybuilding

1. Greek Yogurt has Lactose 

Greek yogurt is a dairy product and contains lactose, which may cause digestive issues for some. 

Experts estimate that approximately 68% of the population is lactose intolerant. 

This means that they experience some sort of digestive discomfort, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc. after consuming a food that has lactose.

For bodybuilders looking to maximize their gym performance, experiencing these symptoms during a workout is not ideal. 

I don’t know about you but I certainly cannot focus on getting a solid gym session in when my stomach is uncomfortable. 

Digestive discomfort may also interfere with you getting enough protein for muscle growth. 

While everyone has a different tolerance to consuming food while experiencing digestive issues, it will start to get in the way of your nutrition if it is occurring regularly. 

Fortunately, for those that are lactose intolerant, there are lactose-free Greek yogurt options available at most stores. 

Ensure you are reading the label to confirm if this is something you struggle with. 

2. Greek Yogurt Can Be High in Sugar

Greek yogurt can be high in sugar, adding additional calories that may affect body weight and body composition. 

Many Greek yogurts are sweetened and, depending on the brand, can contain 20g or more of sugar per serving. 

While consuming sugar in small amounts is fine, added sugar in things like Greek yogurt can be sneaky and quickly add up, especially if consumed daily. 

It’s important to read the label before purchasing so you are aware of the sugar you are consuming. 

The best option is to opt for unsweetened yogurt and add honey or maple syrup to sweeten it. 

This way, you can control the amount of sugar you are adding in and account for it within your daily calories.

3. Greek Yogurt Can Be High in Fat

Greek yogurt can be high in fat, adding additional calories into your day that can impact your body weight and body composition. 

Greek yogurt ranges in fat percentage from 5% including 9g of fat per serving. 

This is an additional 81 calories per serving. While this may not seem like a lot, it can quickly add up if you are consuming it often and are not aware of these calories. 

Obviously, if you’re in a bulking or muscle gain phase, these extra calories can be beneficial.  

But if you’re trying to maintain your weight or cut, greek yogurt can be considered a higher-calorie food option.  

I recommend reading the label and opting for a brand that is between 0-2% fat. 

Top your yogurt with nuts or peanut butter if you need additional fat. 

This will let you control the amount of fat you’re adding and consider it in your daily calories.

Can You Eat Greek Yogurt Before Workouts?

Yes, Greek yogurt is good to eat before a workout as it’s high in protein and has some carbs. Choose a low-fat version and add in fruit or granola to give you additional energy for your workout. Greek yogurt is best to consume 1 – 1 ½ hours before your workout. 

Greek Yogurt in Workouts

Before a workout, it’s important to eat something high in carbs and easily digestible to give you the most energy for your workout. 

Fat slows down our digestion so we want to keep this low. 

Greek yogurt has some carbs but we want to pair it with more to provide us with enough energy. 

Fruit or granola is a great option for this or choose a sweetened Greek yogurt when in a pinch. 

Make sure you are choosing a low-fat Greek yogurt and I recommend lactose-free if you tend to experience digestive issues.

The reason why I recommend eating greek yogurt 60 – 90 minutes before your workout is that even low-fat Greek yogurt will have fat contents, and fat will take longer to digest.

Can You Eat Greek Yogurt After Workouts?

Greek yogurt is great to eat after a workout as it is a high-quality protein source. To maximize recovery, it’s important to add additional carbs to your yogurt, such as fruit or granola, and choose a low-fat Greek yogurt. 

After a workout, it’s important to consume carbs and protein to restore energy and encourage muscle strength and growth. 

Greek yogurt is a great protein source and provides some carbs. 

However, it’s important to add in additional carbs too, a great option is a fruit or granola. 

A great way to further boost the protein and the flavor is to mix your Greek yogurt with protein powder. I recommended using ⅓ – ½ a scoop of protein powder. I typically do this with chocolate protein powder.   

“After the workout, your body needs protein to recover your muscle. This is why Greek yogurt is such an ideal snack to have after training. Add some granola and fruit to make it more complete”. 

Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian

Which Type of Greek Yogurt is Better for Bodybuilding? 

Greek yogurt has endless options that are all slightly different depending on the brand. 

To make things simple, I want to talk about the two main considerations for bodybuilders when selecting Greek yogurt: 

  • The fat percentage
  • Whether it is sweetened

The Fat Percentage

Greek Yogurt will generally range from 0% fat to 5% fat. 

For a serving size of ¾ cup, this will cause the fat to range from 1g – 9g and the calories to range from 108 – 160. 

Additionally, lower-fat Greek yogurt will have 4g more protein per serving compared to the higher fat options. 

In general, I recommend going with a lower-fat option so you are not consuming too much fat while trying to get enough protein, which negatively impacts your body weight and composition.

However, if you are bulking, consuming a Greek yogurt with a higher fat content can be helpful. Higher-fat yogurt has more calories, so it can help you reach your calorie goals if you normally struggle to eat enough.

Whether It Is Sweetened

Sweetened Greek yogurt has added sugar compared to unsweetened options and therefore also more carbs and calories. 

The amount of sugar will vary by brand so it’s important to always read the nutrition label. 

Sweetened Greek yogurt is a good option before and after a workout as it’s helpful to consume carbs for energy and recovery. 

For meals that are not around a workout, the unsweetened option is best to keep the calories from getting too high. 

If you’re finding Greek yogurt is too tart when unsweetened, try mixing ⅓ – ½ a scoop of protein powder in.

Does Greek Yogurt Help Muscle Growth?

Yes, Greek yogurt helps muscle growth as it’s a high-protein food that is easy to incorporate into snacks or meals to help us reach our daily protein goal.

It’s important to choose a low-fat version, otherwise, to get enough protein, you may be consuming too much fat, which will impact body weight and body composition. 

Greek Yogurt for Muscle Growth

No food alone will cause muscle growth, but foods that are high in protein will help you consume enough protein that your body can properly repair and grow your muscles after your workouts if they provide a sufficient stimulus. 

Research suggests for bodybuilders, this intake is about 1-1.4g of protein daily per 1lb of body weight.

Greek yogurt is high in protein which will help you to reach this goal but remember you also need to be consuming other protein sources throughout the day as well.  

Is Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese Better For Bodybuilding?

While Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are both ideal high-protein food sources for bodybuilding, Greek yogurt is slightly better.

Cottage cheese tends to be high in sodium (up to 700 mg per ¾ cup serving), which can cause water retention that could negatively affect your appearance.

Greek yogurt is also higher in calcium than cottage cheese per ¾ cup serving (336 mg vs. 103 mg, respectively). Calcium is most known for its benefits on bone health, but it also plays a role in muscle contraction.

Muscle contraction allows you to apply more force and tension when lifting weights, so you can lift with more intensity that will help promote more muscle growth.

That said, cottage cheese is also higher in casein, a slower-digesting form of protein that’s more satiating than whey.

Many bodybuilders prefer to eat cottage cheese for this reason, as it can keep them fuller for longer. Cottage cheese is also a better pre-bedtime snack because the slow-releasing protein can help promote recovery when sleeping.

Healthy Greek Yogurt Recipe for Bodybuilders

Pre-Workout Greek Yogurt Recipe: Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Pre-Workout Peanut Butter Protein Shake Recipe

This protein shake is packed with protein from the greek yogurt but has additional carbs to give you plenty of energy to crush your workout.


  • 175g (3/4 cup) of greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter (no sugar added)
  • 150g frozen banana (1 large banana)
  • 1 cup almond milk (can substitute with milk of choice)


  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

This recipe makes 1 serving with 377 calories, 30g protein (31%), 48g carbs (46%), 10g fat (24%). For a higher calorie option, increase the banana or add 1-2 tbsp of oats.

Post-Workout Greek Yogurt Recipe: Greek Yogurt Parfait

Post-Workout Greek Yogurt Parfait Recipe

This parfait is a perfect post-workout meal as it’s high in carbs and protein with some fat, providing the most optimal recovery.


  • 175g (3/4 cup) of greek yogurt
  • ⅓ scoop chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 cup strawberries (150g)
  • ⅓ cup granola 


  1. Add the greek yogurt to a bowl, add the protein powder and stir until combined.
  2. Top with berries and granola.

This recipe makes 1 serving with 368 calories, 32g protein (34%), 41g carbs (43%), 10g fat (23%). For a higher calorie option, increase the amount of granola or berries. 

Final Thoughts

Greek yogurt is a great addition to a bodybuilding diet as it provides a high-protein food beneficial for bulking, maintaining or cutting. It’s important to read the label when purchasing to be mindful of the amount of fat and sugar in the option you select.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Greek Yogurt Good For Bulking?

Greek yogurt is good for bulking because it contains a lot of protein and is easy to eat, which can help you consume more food if you’re struggling to eat enough. However, for bulking, look for a higher-fat Greek yogurt.

The extra fat adds more calories, which can help you reach your calorie goals more easily.

What Is The Best Time of Day To Eat Greek Yogurt For Muscle Gain?

You can eat Greek yogurt at any time. However, it’s a great pre- or post-workout snack because it’s high in protein, and you can easily add carbs to it for energy and muscle recovery.

If you eat it before or after a workout, opt for low-fat versions because too much fat can delay the digestion of protein and carbs.

How Much Greek Yogurt Can You Eat Per Day For Bodybuilding? 

As long as you can handle dairy products without any issues, there is no limit to how much Greek yogurt you can eat per day. However, it’s best to stick to 1-2 servings per day to avoid getting all of your protein from one source.

Otherwise, you could miss out on key nutrients from other food. 

Should You Eat Greek Yogurt Before Bed To Build Muscle? 

Greek yogurt is good to eat before bed to build muscle if you are simply trying to fill your protein macros for the day. However, cottage cheese is a better bedtime snack because it contains more casein, a slower-digesting form of protein.

Casein can help promote recovery and prevent muscle breakdown as you sleep.


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About The Author

Laura Semotiuk

Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.

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