A new product has hit Aus and NZ shelves. High protein or Icelandic style (Skyr) yoghurt. It may seem new but this type of yoghurt has been around since Skyr and Greek yoghurt have existed.
High protein yoghurts are Greek yoghurt that have been processed a bit further (not all food processing is evil, bare with me).
Let’s have a look at the processing, nutritional info and validity of some of the claims behind this ‘new’ style of yogurt.
How is greek yoghurt made?
First lets look at how Greek yoghurt is made. Once the milk has been processed into yoghurt, using heat and bacteria, the remaining product is then strained. Straining involves placing the yoghurt on a cheese cloth, or other material, and over time, gravity helps strain the whey from the yoghurt.
Some brands may also add cream, milk solids, or boil off the extra water, making the yogurt thicker. If thickeners such as guar gum, pectin, and locust bean gum are listed in the ingredients, the yoghurt was not strained to achieve it’s Greek yoghurt status. The label may say Greek style yoghurt if this is the case.
The product that is strained off from the yoghurt is called whey, the longer the yogurt is strained the more whey comes off. The whey from yoghurt is an acidic whey. Whey contains globular proteins as well as lactose, vitamins, minerals and trace amounts of fat.
The remaining product is a thicker creamier product called Greek yoghurt or in Iceland Skyr. It’s lower in lactose, and carbohydrates and usually higher in fat and protein. If it is made with low-fat yoghurt, the remaining product will be low in fat as well.
Technically a higher protein or Skyr yoghurt will be strained for longer, or boiled, and have more milk solids added. This type of yoghurt requires more milk, which is why it’s often more expensive.
Is it really higher in protein?
What is legally considered a source of protein according to Food Standards Australia and NZ (FSANZ) (1)? Food has to contain at least 5 grams of protein to be able to have a label suggesting it’s a source of protein. To be a considered a good source, it has to have 10 grams of protein per serve, or 25% more than the reference food.
What does this mean? A food can be considered a good source of protein, if it has 25% more protein per serve than it’s reference food, which is usually from the same brand. Or it has to have 10 grams of protein per serve, remember food companies decide on what a serve is. 500 gram to 900 gram yogurt pots usually have 5 serves per tub, allowing them to control health claims like a good source of protein or calcium.
The proof is in the nutrition label. Below is a diagram of some yoghurts we’ve selected from the supermarket shelves. Three claim to be high protein, while one (Chobani) is just a normal Greek yoghurt.
Nudie for the win!
protein, fat, carb, sugar measured in grams, energy in Kilojoules and calcium in milligrams.
What we have found is that yes, Nudie is significantly higher in protein than the normal Greek yoghurt (Chobani) and the other high protein varieties (Yoplait & Farmers U). Something seems a bit odd though, the normal Chobani is higher in protein, by over a gram, than the Farmers Union.
The way that the high protein yoghurts get to claim they are so, even if they aren’t higher than some Greek yoghurts, is the 25% more rule. If they are high in protein when compared to their own brand Greek yoghurt per serve, then it’s legal to claim high protein. Brands can pick any serving size, which may allow them to have more than 10 grams of protein per serving.
These are all a decent source of quality protein, even the Farmers Union with more than 8 grams per 100 grams, which is higher than a lot of normal yoghurts.
So is it worth buying high protein yoghurt?
That depends on a few factors, such as
is it actually higher in protein (depends on the brand)
how it is made
are you lactose intolerant
have you had weight loss surgery
Let’s compare each price per 100g.
Price per 100 grams
As the chart shows, price is comparable with the amount of protein, which makes sense, as the more it is strained, the more milk required, or the more additives required, the more expensive the product.
How’s it made?
We can determine this using the ingredients lists. None of the yoghurts have thickeners added, Nudie, Yoplait, and Farmers Union all have cream or skimmed milk solids added. Only Chobani appears to be purely strained, as it’s ingredients only list skim milk and live yogurt cultures.
Does this affect your purchasing? Personally if it’s only had milk solids, or cream added and the water has been boiled off as opposed to straining, that’s not such an issue. However if you are lactose intolerant you may want to aim for 100% strained yoghurt to guarantee that lower lactose content.
The more whey that has been lost, the lower the lactose content in the yoghurt, making it a good choice for someone who is lactose intolerant. This also depends on how severe people’s reaction to lactose is. Consult your doctor or dietitian before adding yoghurt to your diet if you are lactose intolerant.
Weight loss surgery
As these products are high in protein, they may be a better option for people who have had surgery which limits their portion sizes. Having a higher amount of protein in a smaller portion will be beneficial for a person to achieve their daily protein, fat and carbohydrate requirements.
Should you buy it?
Depending on that you are looking for in your food, maybe you want to make mad gains in the gym, and need more protein. Or you have a medical diet that requires higher protein, this type of yoghurt could be worth the price point.
Looking at protein and price per 100 grams shows you should always check all the brands available, and compare their nutrition labels. If you are already buying a Greek yoghurt, it may be high in protein already (>10 grams per serving). Simply check the protein per serve on the nutrition label.
You may also want to check the pricing, although the theory that the price and protein are correlated appears consistently in our very small sample size, it may be different in your local supermarket or farmers market.
(There is no affiliation between Real Health Co. and any brands used in this post.)
Schedule 4: Nutrition, health and related claims, FSANZ. (29/04/2019). Retrieved from http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Documents/Sched%204%20Nutrition%20and%20health%20claims%20v159.pdf