Is Greek Yogurt Good for Bulking?


Is Greek yogurt good for building lean muscle? Yes, Greek yogurt can absolutely help you build muscle if it is consumed as part of a balanced and healthy diet. This is because Greek yogurt is rich in a type of protein called casein. Protein, in its various forms is vital for building an maintaining muscle mass. 

How is Greek Yogurt Good for Bulking?…

Like whey protein, casein is a byproduct of cheese production, and it contains essential amino acids that can not be produced by the body. However, these amino acids are vital for building lean muscle, and so they must be ingested as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Both whey protein and casein protein provide these key amino acids however, there is a key difference between the two. This means that you may want to look at using the two different forms for slightly different purposes.

The difference between casein protein found in Greek yogurt, and whey protein found in many protein supplements for example, is that casein is absorbed very slowly by the body. In contrast, whey protein is absorbed much faster. This is why bodybuilders swear by whey protein to build muscle mass.

Another positive aspect of Greek yogurt is that it is strained in order to remove the whey. This means that the lactose is also removed at the same time during the same process. Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk, and it can spike insulin and cause fat gain when consumed. Therefore, unlike a lot of other variants of yogurt, Greek yogurt doesn't encourage your body to store fat as severely.  

So Why Use Greek Yogurt to Build Muscle?

So if casein protein is absorbed very slowly by the body, then why you would want to use Greek yogurt as part of your diet?

Let me explain...​​​​

Eating for health and fitness has just as much to do with timing as it has to do with what foods you actually eat.

This is why Greek yogurt makes a great snack to have for supper just before bed.

Because the protein in the yogurt is slow digesting, if you consume a portion before bed, then you are loading your body up with a slow release protein. This will keep your muscles fuelled while they are recovering during the night while you are sleeping for 8-12 hours. 

It therefore makes sense to keep your Greek yogurt consumption until later on in the evening. Make sure you consume other sources of  faster releasing protein during the day such as eggs, lean meats and fish. Also consider supplementing with a whey protein supplement within 30 after your weight training session. This will allow the faster absorbing proteins to get to work repairing and building muscle mass as soon as possible. 

is greek yogurt good for bulking

Left - Here is a picture of the nutrition information on the packaging of my Greek yogurt. Notice how the protein content is pretty high per 100 g. It is the highest of the three macros. Good news for muscle builders!

Also, notice the 121 mg of Calcium. Calcium helps improve bone strength and density.

Finally, I also circled the L. Casei on the ingredients list. L. Casei is a microorganism that is good for gut health. One of the many other benefits of probiotic yogurt.   

What Are Some of the Other Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt?

There are several other health benefits associated with Greek yogurt other than the protein content. Even if you are not looking to build muscle and you just want to be healthy in general, then Greek yogurt can be very beneficial.

Some of these benefits are;

  • Good For Bone Strength and Density - Greek yogurt is very rich in calcium which improves bone strength. Especially when combined with lifting weights as part of your workout program.
  • Improves Gut Health - Greek yogurt contains probiotics which help restore bacterial balance within the gut and can improve overall health of your digestive system
  • Improved Mental Health - A study carried out in 2016 found that when a group of 100 workers consumed 100g of probiotic yogurt a day, they experienced less stress and depression. It is thought that this is due to a connection between gut health, and the guts ability to encourage the brain to release more "feel good" neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.

There are even more benefits to probiotic yogurt which I haven't mentioned here. You can head over to MedicalNewsToday.com (opens in a new window), to learn even more about the other amazing benefits of Greek yogurt, many of them backed by research.

Serving Suggestions

Finally, a few points to remember before you go on a yogurt binge! Always be careful with the so called low fat versions. Research has now shown that natural fats are not bad for us. Fat does not cause blocked arteries and heart attacks. It is in fact sugar, and to a lesser extent starchy carbs that do that.  What you need to remember is that when a manufacturer reduces the fat in their foods, they often replace it with something else to make sure that the product tastes good. This added ingredient is often either some form of sugar or a wonderful collection of man made chemicals.  

Go for the full fat version and watch your sugars instead!

is greek yogurt good for bulking
is greek yogurt good for bulking

The above studies are just two of many that now suggest that saturated fats and fats found in natural whole foods is actually good for us.

Greek yogurt by itself is not very sweet, and so people normally like to add other ingredients to it in order to take the edge of it. This is totally fine, but just be careful. If you are watching your sugar or carbohydrate intake then you will need to count the nutritional amounts of whatever you add to the yogurt to your daily macros. 

A lot of people like to add honey to their Greek yogurt. This is actually my personal favourite and I think that the yogurt and honey go really well together. 

If you are not careful though, those grams of carbs and sugars will soon add up. The same goes with adding fruit to your yogurt. Most berries for example, are lower on the glycemic index, but if you start adding apple and strawberries which are higher on the GI, you will soon go over your limit and spike your insulin levels which will encourage fat storage.

So you either need to really watch how much 'sweet stuff' you add, or use an artificial sweetener such as monk fruit or erythritol which are my personal favourites. 

In Summary

Yes, Greek yogurt is a very good food to add to your diet when it comes to building and maintaining muscle. Just remember that it contains a form of slower releasing protein and so you are best consuming the yogurt for supper before bed. That way your muscles will a have a good source of protein through the night. Go for the higher fat version of the yogurt, and always check the ingredients list for added sugars. Don't assume anything, as marketing can sometimes be misleading.

Use other forms of protein throughout the day and try to get a good amount of whey protein straight after a heavy session in the gym. This will get the all important nutrients to your muscles ASAP..

Eat well, train hard!...

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"August 12, 2014" by osseous is licensed under CC BY 2.0