Skip to Content

Is Yogurt A Complete Protein? (Uh-Oh)

Yogurt is a very common food that people consume around the world. It contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, and also a great dose of protein. 

Because of that, it’s a popular food choice for vegetarians and those on plant-based diets.

Even though yogurt is high in protein, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that it contains all nine essential amino acids that make it a complete protein. 

Most animal products are complete proteins, and this includes dairy. So, is yogurt a complete protein?

Is yogurt a complete protein?

Yogurt is very low in calories, so it doesn’t provide you with a lot of protein in a single serving. It is considered a complete protein, though, but you have to eat a lot more than a single one-cup serving to get enough of each essential amino acid.

So, you either have to pair it with an additional source of amino acids or eat a larger serving.

Aside from protein, yogurt is rich in several nutrients like riboflavin, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. So, eating it can help you reap a lot of wonderful health benefits from these vitamins and minerals.

Is yogurt a complete protein?
Is yogurt a complete protein?

Make sure to also check out Do I Need To Worry About Eating Complete Proteins? and Yes, You Can Be A Vegan And An Athlete Too.

Why is yogurt a bad source of complete protein?

Yogurt, just like all other dairy products, contains all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t create by itself. Unfortunately, though, it contains these in very small amounts, as it’s low in calories.

So, the amount of each of the amino acids you’re getting from a single serving of plain yogurt isn’t enough to fulfill your daily need for these amino acids.

This also means that you have to pair plain yogurt with other sources of complete protein to create a complete protein amino acid profile.

It’s also important to remember that flavored yogurt is lower in protein and much higher in sugar. This means that it also provides you with a lot less of each essential amino acid.

So, to get the most out of the protein and amino acids found in yogurt, opt for plain yogurt and add fresh fruit to it for flavor and even more nutrients and amino acids.

How can you create a complete protein using yogurt?

All dairy products are complete proteins, but plain yogurt contains very little of some of the nine essential amino acids. So, to get all of them in adequate amounts, you may need to add some ingredients to your yogurt.

Why is yogurt a bad source of complete protein?
Why is yogurt a bad source of complete protein?

For example, you can pair plain yogurt with foods like spirulina, carrots, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cashews. These contain enough of each of the nine amino acids that your body needs to get from food.

What’s more, you can also try adding other whole grains like oats to your yogurt, creating a healthy and nutritious smoothie bowl that’s also a complete protein portion of food.

Is Greek yogurt a complete protein?

Greek yogurt is much more concentrated than traditional, plain yogurt. Because of that, it’s much higher in protein and contains more amino acids in a single serving.

So, if you eat natural Greek yogurt, you’re very likely to get enough of each of the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own.

So, if you want to consume yogurt for its complete protein profile, choosing Greek yogurt is the best choice for you.

As mentioned, Greek yogurt is also higher in protein, containing around 17 g of this macronutrient in a single one-cup serving.

Is Greek yogurt a complete protein?
Is Greek yogurt a complete protein?

Is yogurt good for you?

Yogurt isn’t only a great source of protein but also other nutrients. For example, a single one-cup serving of plain yogurt provides you with 20% of your daily recommended need for riboflavin.

This vitamin, also known as vitamin B2, helps your body break down carbs, proteins, and fats to produce energy. It’s also responsible for the function and development of your skin, digestive tract lining, and blood cells.

So, it’s crucial to consume plenty of foods containing this micronutrient every day.

Yogurt also packs a great dose of calcium, a mineral that helps boost your immune system. It’s also important for the health and strength of your bones and teeth, preventing osteoporosis and other bone-related issues.

Calcium may also have other health benefits when combined with other nutrients. For example, some studies indicate that calcium, along with vitamin D, can protect you against bone cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Also, whole-milk yogurt varieties contain saturated fats, which can help protect your health from heart attacks, heart disease, and other cardiovascular issues. As a result, eating plain yogurt in moderation is heart-healthy.

Additionally, some varieties of yogurt – especially plain yogurt – contain live bacteria called probiotics. These bacteria are beneficial for the health of your digestive system.

Probiotics also have been shown to lessen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a very common disorder that affects the colon. 

So, if you tend to experience digestive system issues, eating yogurt containing probiotics can be incredibly beneficial for you.

What’s more, the same probiotics may also reduce inflammation in your body, thus boosting your immune system. 

Is yogurt good for you?
Is yogurt good for you?

Because of that, eating yogurt can boost your immune system, protect your body against infections, and reduce the duration and severity of the common cold.

Other yogurt varieties may also be fortified with minerals and vitamins, which means that they provide you even more of these important micronutrients. 

So, since many people these days suffer from mineral deficiencies, adding yogurt to your diet can be beneficial.

Conclusion

Plain, whole-milk yogurt isn’t a complete protein on its own. Luckily, you can pair it with a wide variety of other foods that increase the content of amino acids in this dairy product, thus creating a complete protein food pairing.

Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is a complete protein, meaning it provides you with enough of each amino acid that your body can’t produce on its own.

Both regular and Greek yogurt are excellent sources of minerals, vitamins, and probiotics as well. So eating them is really good for your overall health, wellbeing, and disease prevention.

Make sure to also check out Do I Need To Worry About Eating Complete Proteins? and Yes, You Can Be A Vegan And An Athlete Too.

Sources: Nutritionix, Nutrition Data, National Library of Medicine, and PMC