Greek yogurt is an easy snack option most people have in their fridge, but is it a good choice for bodybuilders with specific physique goals?
Here’s my quick answer…
Is Greek yogurt good or bad for bodybuilding? Greek yogurt is good for bodybuilding because it’s high in protein, helping with muscle growth. It will also keep you full longer, which is beneficial when cutting. It is important, however, to be mindful of the fat and sugar content that are in some store-bought Greek yogurt.
In this article, I will provide:
- The calories and nutrients Greek yogurt provides
- The pros and cons of Greek yogurt for bodybuilding
- Whether Greek yogurt is a good choice pre-and post-workout
- A pre-and post-workout recipe that includes Greek yogurt
Eating Greek Yogurt for Bodybuilding: Overview
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
Are you eating the right foods for your bodybuilding goals?
3 Pros of Eating Greek Yogurt For Bodybuilding
The pros of eating Greek yogurt for bodybuilders are:
- Greek yogurt is a low-fat protein source
- Greek yogurt keeps us full for longer
- Greek yogurt is easy to consume
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.
If you want high protein, low-fat foods, check out my article: How To Increase Your Protein Without Fat
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. By eating food like Greek yogurt that is slow-digesting, it 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.
Check out other low-calorie snacks:
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 can also 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 a vegetarian protein option like Greek yogurt that you enjoy consuming.
Cottage cheese has similar benefits as Greek yogurt. Check out my article on Is Cottage Cheese Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
3 Cons of Eating Greek Yogurt For Bodybuilding
The downside of eating Greek yogurt for bodybuilders is:
- Greek yogurt has lactose
- Greek yogurt can be high in sugar
- Greek yogurt can be high in fat
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, diarrhoea 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 consume 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. This way, you can control the amount of sugar you are adding in and account for it within your daily calories.
Check out my other article Is honey Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
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 with 5% include 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.
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.
Curious to know about nuts and bodybuilding? Check out our articles
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.
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 chooses 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.
I recommend eating Greek yogurt around 60 – 90 minutes before your workout as the fat contents of the meal 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 with 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. 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 flavour of your Greek yogurt is to mix in ⅓ – ½ a scoop of protein powder. I typically do this with chocolate protein powder.
We asked Brenda Paralta, a Registered Dietician, what she thinks of Greek yogurt post-workout. She said:
“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”.
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.
For bodybuilders, I recommend going with a lower fat option so you are not consuming enough fat, while trying to get enough protein, which negatively impacts your body weight and composition.
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.
Check out my article about Can You Mix Whey Protein With Greek Yogurt?
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 enough fat which will impact body weight and body composition.
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 inake is about 1-1.4g of protein daily per 1lb of bodyweight.
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.
Check out our other articles on:
Healthy Greek Yogurt Recipe for Bodybuilders
Pre-Workout Greek Yogurt Recipe: Peanut Butter Protein Shake
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)
- 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.
Want to learn more about eating bananas for bodybuilding? Check out my article Are Bananas Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
Post-Workout Greek Yogurt Recipe: Greek Yogurt Parfait
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
- Add the greek yogurt to a bowl, add the protein powder and stir until combined.
- 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.
Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone
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.
About The Author
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. You can connect with Laura on Instagram or through her Website.