Greek style yoghurt vs greek yoghurt

So the question is do you know the difference between greek and greek style yoghurt?

I’ve used yoghurt as a sugar busting staple for years now. I put it in low sugar smoothies; mix it up with sugar-free granola and/or fruit; and quite often eat it as a dessert with a few cacao nibs sprinkled over the top.

So one day I figured I wanted to know the difference between greek style yoghurt and greek yoghurt and understand the differences.  So here’s the lowdown and a few other greek style yoghurt facts to keep you in the know.

greek style yoghurt

Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

A while back I went for a super healthy lunch with yoghurt pro Alison White from Total Greek (also known as FAGE).

We chatted all things yoghurt, life and sugar-free foods whilst drinking a glass of sparking wine ha!

greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

Here are some handy Greek yoghurt facts you may not know that will help you make informed decisions without getting lured or misled by marketing or packaging.

  • A really thick yoghurt has either got there in two ways:

1) it was either strained a few times to remove the whey or

2) it has had milk protein powder, starch or other additives added to it to get there. The easiest way really to determine this is to look at the ingredients list.

  • In the UK there is a difference between ‘Greek yoghurt’ and ‘Greek Style Yoghurt’. Greek yoghurt now has to be authentically made in Greece. Greek style yoghurt is just made to seem like it and can be thickened by either one of the two processes above.
  • In America, anything can be called ‘Greek’ – basically this whole Greek style yoghurt thing in the UK is the result of a big court case between Total and Chobani. Total (or FAGE) yoghurt is at present the leading authentic Greek yoghurt brand on the market.

This post isn’t sponsored FAGE UK, I simply wanted to share this because I think it’s quite useful to know and found it personally interesting. Buying sugar-free yoghurts can often be utterly confusing and I know I get a lot of questions about it via e-mail.

I do personally think Total Greek are one brand with a very good quality product for lower sugar living. They also have some superb healthy (& many sugar-free) yoghurt infused recipes on their website too – these sweet potato fries with rosemary garlic yoghurt dip being one of my favourites.

However there are other cheaper Greek yoghurt style yoghurts made by the supermarket brands that are still sugar-free and healthy.

I’ll also mention that have the Total Greek Cookbook which generally has a great selection of yoghurt infused recipes. There are some that use sugar though too so you have to filter through a little.

The difference between Greek yoghurt vs. natural yoghurt

Now you’ve got Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt sorted, here’s a video I made explaining the difference between Greek yoghurt and natural. Yes let’s go yoghurt crazy today!

What’s worth remembering is that when it comes to managing hunger, Greek yoghurt has a higher protein count – 10g per 100g compared to 5-6g in natural yoghurt – thus it will keep you fuller for longer.

Also remember that about 4-7g of the sugars listed in yoghurt are the natural lactose sugar, which doesn’t count as sugar (of the fructose kind) on a sugar-free or lower sugar diet.

Always check for added sugar in the ingredients list though.

greek style yoghurt protein

My transition off sugary yoghurts

In my former sugary years I used to eat a ‘Muller Light’ or low fat fruity yoghurt pretty much every day, sometimes 2-3 a day.

I did this for literally years.

A fruity yoghurt was often my ‘healthy’ post meal sweet fix – anyone used it the same?

At University I would chose the cheapest and – shame-shock-horror – I even used to buy those Sainsbury’s basics low fat fruity yoghurts at one point. Yes I did, sins confessed!

When I moved to London I would buy Muller Lights, Shapers, Activia brands or whatever was on special offer. I am still in awe of the entire supermarket aisle that is awash with colourful wide variety of sugar laden yoghurts.

When people today ask me why I started Happy Sugar Habits, I often say it’s because I was simply mortified at discovering some of the yoghurts I loved had a shocking 15g of sugar in them and no-one back then was talking about this.


So I wrote a blog post on the lower sugar yoghurts and things went from there.

These days I don’t touch fruity sugar-filled yoghurts – they just don’t appeal. Of all the sugary things out there, I really don’t miss these. A mouthful of one every now and then confirms this to me – they are way too sweet, sickly and taste a bit artificial. I would rather drizzle some brown rice syrup or good quality honey on some full fat natural yoghurt to get something a bit sweeter when I do fancy it.

Do you eat yoghurt and what with? Breakfast? Dessert? Any more questions just hit me up with a comment below.


Which are the best low sugar yoghurts to buy?

So you’re standing in the supermarket, it’s a bit cold because you’re in the fridge section and you’re feeling COMPLETELY bamboozled the by yoghurt choice. Oh trust me, I’ve been there – which are the best low sugar yoghurts out there?

Greek, natural, pro-biotic, ‘natural’ fruit ones, low calorie, half a dozen fat %s etc. There’s just so much choice and apart from the Rolo variety, most are claiming that they’re the healthiest thing going. It’s confusing to say the least.

If yoghurt is a staple in your diet; you’ve formally been (or still are) a low fat fruity fan; and you’re looking for a yoghurt life less some sugar, with a handle on your cravings, then this is the article for you!

Should we be eating dairy?

I first wrote this article back in 2012 but I’m now updating it because the yoghurt scene is moving mighty fast. Dairy is getting a bad rep and many people are these days opting to avoid it. I could spend the whole of this post discussing dairy in itself but I want to keep it simple:

1. If you already know you’re lactose intolerant or actively avoid dairy because it makes you feel better not eating it, then of course continue to do so. Options for you will be more limited but they are there – mainly in the form of coconut yoghurt. My favourite low sugar yoghurts brands being CoYo and Coconut Collaborative.

Note: If you’re dairy free but chucking down sweetened almond milk or dairy free chocolate like no tomorrow, you’re still potentially a bit hooked on sugar (fructose). I’d ask yourself to what extent avoiding the dairy is driving you towards more sugar and how much of a control you feel over sweet stuff?

2. If you have an unhealthy relationship with sugar and you are eating sugary yoghurts, forget about experimenting around dairy-free and just focus on lower sugar to start with. This article should really help you do that.

A note: I still eat quite a lot of (quality) dairy these days. I am considering a trial period without it but I’m not going to deny the fact it really really helped me overcome my sweet tooth and I’m not sure I would have beaten my fructose addiction without it. I (& many of my clients) have used yoghurt and milky drinks a lot to help with some of the worst cravings and sugary habits. So as much as people will argue against dairy, it very much depends on you and where you’re at.

low sugar yoghurts

The benefits of yoghurt on a lower sugar diet

Yoghurt can be a delicious source of protein, fat and other nutrients that is satisfying and can feel indulgent. It can fill you up at breakfast, serve as a snack or add a tasty dimension and natural sweetness to main meals. It can even be a healthy dessert or bust a particularly tough craving.

However, it’s also one of the food areas which is the most shocking when it comes to sugar and mixed marketing messages, so it really needs some awareness.

Diebetes Lie

How much sugar?!

I’ll never forget the moment I realised my daily Activia Snackpot contained 16g of sugar. I nearly fell through the floor and actually felt some deep down sadness inside – this was the sweet pleasure in my day and had been for about 10 years. I do really feel your yoghurt pain if you’re going through it.

However, to give you an idea of sugar in some yoghurts check these out:

Muller Light Smooth Toffee 175g pot = 12.4g sugar plus aspartame (artificial sweetener)

Weight Watchers Summer Fruit Strawberry 120g pot = 6.6g sugar plus aspartame

Tesco Low Fat Strawberry 125g pot = 16.1g sugar, no aspartame

Yeo Valley Greek Style Honey 100g pot = 14.3g sugar, no aspartame

As you can see, some contain quite a lot of sugar, especially when you visually remember that 4g is the equivalent of a teaspoon. That small Tesco strawberry number is packing in a hefty 4 teaspoons of sugar.

Evident from the first two, it’s also not unusual to find sugar (usually in the form of a syrup) AND artificial sweeteners. In some cases you may find just artificial sweeteners and in others just a form of sugar (even organic honey is still sugar – especially when its so processed).

Screenshot 2015-03-16 14.27.08

Natural vs. Fruit in low sugar yoghurts

I’ll be frank and get to the point here. Anything fruity flavoured or that tastes fruity, has something in it to make it taste like that. Even a seemingly ‘natural’ fruit compote is a concentrated source of sugar, usually with extra sugar or artificial sweeteners added to it. I won’t even go into artificial colourings or other stabilisers which are usually also packed into these yoghurts. Remember the fewer ingredients on the list, the better.

The best way to go to avoid added sugar is to steer away from fruity flavours and opt for natural or plain Greek yoghurts. Learn more by watching my video on Natural vs. Greek yoghurts and reading this article on the three things you probably don’t know about Greek yoghurt.

So remember the differences here:

  • Fruit flavour yoghurt: between 6-14g sugar per 100g (plus potential stabilisers and artificial sweeteners)
  • Natural or Greek yoghurt: between 4-9g sugar per 100g

The best of the fruity situation

Whilst natural is preferable, lets say a fruit flavoured yoghurt slips into the trolley… I’ll turn a blind eye with the hope you’ll change this habit eventually as I know I struggled to pull myself off this one.

My advice if you really want a low sugar healthy(ish) fruit flavoured yoghurt is aim for 6-7g per 100g or around 8-9g a pot serving NOT a whopping 16g like the above Tesco number. You’ll also need to decide how OK you are with various 0g sugar substitutes like aspartame or stevia, as you’re likely to come across lower sugar products that contain these to keep the sweet taste.

Personally, I’d say really try to move away from fruity yoghurts. Buy plain, natural or Greek and add your own fruit or even a little brown rice syrup/raw honey if you really need. At least you have control of the amount if you’re adding it yourself. Whole fruit with the skin helps naturally slow down the release of sugar and helps your body process it much better than some sort of processed fruit compote.

Low sugar yoghurts: Be conscious of portion size

Smaller snack size pots are easy to calculate but the killer comes with those large and so-easy-to-dip-your-spoon-into big tubs.

You’re likely to have about a 150g portion of these and if your spoon is dipping into something like the Onken Vanilla 0% ‘fat free’, you’re racking up an impressive 21.2g of sugar (5.3 teaspoons) for that portion size. All of that under the perception that you’re being healthy with 0% fat. Crazy town!

Not to mention with those large tubs of addictive fructose laden yoghurt, portion control is even harder (just one more spoonful…). Eat a double portion by accident an your up to 44.4g of sugar! Ouch.

Natural lactose sugar

You’ll notice that even the natural and Greek yoghurts contain sugar under the carbohydrates listing on the label. If the ingredients do not list anything sweet or sugar like, you can assume that this is natural lactose which is OK.

This is absolutely fine from a sugar craving standpoint – it’s not the addictive fructose that makes you want more sugar and is harmful in large quantities.

Generally yoghurts can contain between 4-9g of natural lactose like this but always double check the ingredients. Ideally you want just the yoghurt and maybe some friendly yoghurt cultures to be listed. Below is the ingredients list for FAGE Total Greek Classic (4% fat) yoghurt which is a quality brand I highly recommend.

Screenshot 2015-03-16 15.20.18



What about fat?

We are currently emerging from a low fat era and attitudes are shifting. Recent reports are claiming that the low fat advice we were previously given a few decades ago was based on weak evidence. All saturated fat is no longer the dietary villain it was made out to be.

When it comes to low sugar yoghurts, full fat has two main benefits:

  1. It fills you up and satiates you more, thus reducing your need for other food or snacking between meals
  2. It’s less processed than low fat varieties

Saying this I know personally and through my coaching that ‘fat fear’ is a real issue. I found it hard to start eating full fat dairy and had to work my way up. You usually get yoghurt in 0%, 1.5-2%, 4% and 9.5-10% fat varieties so maybe just opt for the higher %’s or the one up from the one that you’re used to.

Even if you’re trying to slim down, experiment with full fat yoghurt (or at least 4%) because where you might be eating a few extra calories with it, chances are it’s going to satiate you to eat less over the rest of the day and so it kind of balances itself out if you know what I mean.

At the end of the day it may also come down to taste preference. I personally go for either 4% or 9.5% depending on what I’m using it for e.g. 4% for breakfast, 9.5% if it’s a dessert.

Look for protein

Another healthy thing to look for in low sugar yoghurts is protein content, because this ultimately the macronutrient that will keep you feeling fuller for longer and release energy more steadily into the bloodstream. FAGE Total Greek really comes out on top here with at least 9g per 100g. Reviewing other varieties for protein, they seem to average around 4-8g.

Low sugar yoghurt recommendations

I like these ones…

FAGE Total Greek Classic, 4% fat, 9g protein

FAGE Total Greek 2%, 2% fat, 9.9g protein

Yeo Valley Natural (the green one!), 4.2% fat, 4.6g protein

Yeo Vally Greek Style Natural, 9.5% fat, 4.5g protein

Tesco Natural Greek Yoghurt, 9.5% fat, 4.2g protein (probably the cheapest here)

Even Lidl has a full fat creamy massive tub one that is suitable for a low sugar diet, so cost should not be a barrier!

In summary, the morals of the low sugar yoghurt story are:

1) keep your eye firmly on sugar content – the ingredients particularly so you can spot for artificial sweeteners and other sugar forms.

2) move away from fruity flavoured where you can

3) consider the protein

4) don’t be scared off by fat.

I’ll also quickly add to watch out for stevia, agave, honey etc. which are also all bound to start making more of an appearance in low sugar yoghurts as the market starts to shift to ‘low sugar’ over ‘low fat’.

If you tend to get a bit confused between natural sugars, lactose etc. when reading label then you can download the free PDF Reading Label Guide HERE which will walk you through really logical steps. Honestly, get your head around this process and you’ll never look back!

What do you think about yoghurts? Do you have any questions? Please comment below and I’ll answer them for you and everyone else reading this.

Laura xx