French Women's Diet Secret: Yogurt
Easy, portable, and tasty, yogurt may also aid in weight loss
For many years, eating yogurt has been associated with good health. The
creamy dairy food has long been a staple of Mediterranean, Indian, and French
diets. In fact, according to Mireille Guilliano, author of the best-selling
French Women Don't Get Fat, yogurt is one of the French secrets to
Americans love their yogurt just as much as the French, although we don't
necessarily think of it as diet food. We gobbled up $2.5 billion worth last
year. Stroll down the yogurt aisle at your supermarket and you'll see a
dizzying array of choices: trendy new flavors, additives ranging from granola
to candy, fat-free and sugar-free types, creamy blended varieties, drinkable
and squeezable yogurts, and fiber-enriched and probiotic options.
No wonder we love it, in all its forms. Yogurt is portable, convenient,
nutritious, and delicious, and works for breakfast, dessert, or a snack.
Yogurt and Weight Loss
In her book, Guiliano touts yogurt as the ultimate way to manage hunger.
"Yogurt is the perfect food because it is high in calcium, [and] has
carbs, protein and fat, which are what you need in every meal," she tells
She says most French women eat one or two yogurts a day, and often enjoy it
for breakfast -- especially after an evening of overindulgence, to help balance
out the calories.
Health professionals have long advocated dairy products and other
calcium-rich foods for helping to keep bones and teeth strong and preventing
osteoporosis. And over the past few years, several studies have shown that
eating low-fat dairy may enhance weight loss as well.
A study published in the April 2005 International Journal of Obesity
looked at obese adults who cut 500 calories a day while consuming three daily
servings of low-fat yogurt. It found that they lost significant amounts of fat,
especially around the waist, while maintaining lean muscle tissue. The
three-yogurts-a-day group lost 22% more weight, 61% more body fat, and 81% more
stomach fat than a comparison group who ate just one serving of yogurt
The study's author, Michael Zemel, suggests that eating dairy and getting
plenty of calcium maintains bone density and muscle mass while increasing fat
"Here we have one more clinical trial that demonstrates how including
dairy in your diet can help those who are trying to take pounds off and those
who don't want to gain weight," Zemel says. "We use yogurt because it
is a convenient form of dairy and most people enjoy it."
Still, it's important to remember that not all yogurts are created equal.
Some have levels of fat and sugar that can undo any weight loss benefits.
One cup of nonfat yogurt contains 100 calories, 300 milligrams calcium, 10
grams of protein and no fat. Some brands, though, are also loaded with sugar,
fat and artificial ingredients. To select the most nutritious yogurt, read the
label, and zero in on the fat, sugar, and calorie content per serving.