Greek yogurt protein content

madbrainJuly 6, 2014

I have been making my own greek yogurt lately.

It turns out that ti's much economical than buying greek yogurt from a store .

For example :

- Chobani 32oz plain nonfat greek 32 oz is $5.69 at safeway , on sale. Or $0.18 /oz

- Fage 0% plain greek 48oz is $6.49 at Costco. Or $0.14/oz

Skim milk yield about 40% greek yogurt weight, so 2 gallons of skim milk will yield about 111oz greek yogurt.
That's $0.07 per oz based on $7.98 for 2 gallons of skim milk at safeway.

Or $0.05 per oz based on $5.50 for 2 gallons of skim milk at costco .

This excludes the cost of starter obviously, it would cost a little more if I included it.

However, I calculated the protein content of my greek yogurt and it's less than the store brands. And sugar content (lactose) is higher as well. I'm wondering how the to achieve something closer to the store brand.

Here are my calculations from my most recent batch of greek yogurt.

07/04/14 Greek yogurt calories weight (g) carbs (g) sugar (g) fat (g) protein (g)

nonfat milk 396 1074 0 61.6 0 39.6
yogurt (Stonyfield) 16 28 0 1.1 0 2.9

total 412 1102 0 62.7 0 42.5
liquid whey 159 664 0 35.1 0 5.4
Total after straining 253 438 0 27.6 0 37.1
per 100g 58 100 0 6 0 8
per 170g 98.6 170 0 10.2 0 13.6
per 227g 131.7 227 0 13.6 0 18.2

This means my yogurt has 1.33:1 ratio of protein vs carbs.

This is not bad, but the store brand is like this :

Chobani , 150g : Carb : 7g, Protein : 15g
Ie. there is more than twice the protein content vs carbs - 2.14:1 to be precise.

Stonyfield, 227g : Carb 9g, protein 23 g.
That's a 2.55:1 ratio .

Fage, 227g : Carb 9g, protein 23g
2:55:1 ratio as well .

The liquid whey that's removed during straining removes carbs but protein as well .

Questions :

1) How do I get my greek yogurt to have at least 2:1 protein vs carb content ?

2) Is there a way to remove more whey from the yogurt than 60 % ? I think the highest I have seen removed when straining for several days was about 66% weight removed vs the original milk + started weight.

Is this what commercial greek yogurt makers are doing ?

3) Is there a way to recover just the protein from the whey and put it back into the yogurt ?

Is that what those yogurt makers are doing also ?

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1- Why obsess about the protein content of one food when your protein intake is from all food sources throughout the day - vegetable AND animal sources?

2-You can add one, or both, of a couple commonly-added ingredients to homemade yogurt to increase the protein - non-fat dry powdered milk (which increases the milk solids and will increase the calcium, too) and unflavored gelatin (which aid the texture as well).

3- When you drain the whey, a cup of yogurt gives up 25% of it's volume in the first 5-minutes. The greatest portion of whey drains off in the first hour. According to one source: One quart of yogurt will yield approximately 1-1/3 c. of yogurt cheese when drained for 8-hours, with about 2 cups of whey drained off. I think that's about the extent you can "squeeze" out the whey.

-One tablespoon of Bernard Jensen's 100% Bovine Gelatin has 12 grams of protein and 0 grams of sugar (but one gram of total carbohydrate), and is one of the better brands as a protein powder.
-One tablespoon of Great Lakes Unflavored gelatin (in the orange box) has 6 grams of protein.
-NOW Beef Gelatin Powder - 9 grams per tablespoon.
-Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate (in the green box) - 6 grams protein per tablespoon. This type of gelatin does NOT gel, so you can add it to cold or hot beverages, smoothies, etc. to increase protein without gelling.

Most people, even vegetarians, don't have a problem consuming enough protein throughout the day, and excess protein is converted to glucose - so unless you are a body builder, more protein isn't necessarily "better".

You may find some information at the link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: A Discussion about Protein in Greek Yogurt

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 6:37AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Yes, the link from grainlady is informative. However, it's worth noting that industrial food producers have access to all sorts of technology that you don't to make the process even more efficient (in terms of concentrating the proteins) than you could ever hope to be. Although most greek yogurts claim to be 'batch made' the 'old fashioned way' there's no certification standard like organic versus non-organic; who knows what really goes on. They could microfilter it under high pressure, for example.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 6:48AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

BTW I've done this calculation roughly, myself. Once you compare the price on a per-unit-protein basis, the very cheapest store brand "bulk" quart protein-concentrated yogurts begin to be even close to competitive with buying milk. Anything else, you are paying a huge premium for the fermentation and packaging...which in some sense you should. However I don't buy store yogurt very often anymore. When I get a yogurt craving, I head up to Lancaster County and buy some raw milk to make my own. Which, yes, is not allowed in many states but it gets curdled anyhow to make yogurt. But I don't really think it's as dangerous as the FDA wants you to think it is. Anything raw can be dangerous if it's contaminated, even vegetables. People have died from them: sure raw milk might be a bit riskier, but so is riding a motorcycle and we haven't banned that. I've consumed raw milk several times now and nothing happened...but I was just curious, I'm not much of a milk drinker usually. The taste is surprisingly bland, because it doesn't have the caramellic note of ultra-pasteurization. Similarly, fresh raw eggs have very little taste, it's almost like drinking a thick solution of xanthan gum and slightly salty water. Anyhow Pennsylvania seems to have a good system of keeping on top of the raw dairies, and I'm convinced the yogurt tasted better than using any store bought brand.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Sun, Jul 6, 14 at 7:04

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 7:02AM
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I dug a little deeper in my files for this information which may, or may not, be helpful. Adding more protein is one aspect (powdered milk and gelatin), but fermentation and number of bacteria in your starter may also have some effect when it comes to the whey.

There are certain types of bacteria that work faster at the beginning of fermentation, and those that work towards the end. When yogurt ferments quickly (3-5 hours) the whey has a tendency to leak out of it quicker than those that ferment longer. So if the goal is to drain more whey, find a recipe for yogurt that ferments quickly. The longer it has to ferment, and the thicker the yogurt is, the proteins will also "embrace" whey and hold it in the mixture.

This is why homemade yogurt made with milk and starter only - will quickly liquefy when stirred (stirring destroys the curd) or if you spoon out a portion it quickly fills with whey, compared to commercial yogurt products that include thickeners which help to hold the whey.

See if you find a difference in the finished product by using a starter/culture that only has 2 types of bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles - which is most plain yogurt products), and Stoneyfield Farm plain yogurt which has six live active cultures. Evidently, the more bacteria used, the faster it ferments.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 7:16PM
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Thanks for your reply.
I will address your first post below.

1. I'm shooting for a high protein diet - I am aware of many other sources of protein, but greek yogurt seems to be one of the best ones.

2. all milk has more carbs (lactose sugar) than protein.
1cup of skim milk has 14g of sugar vs 9g of protein.
So, while adding milk would increase the protein content, it would also increase the carb content, and thus the ratio of protein to carb would not improve.

The gelatin is a good idea which I will try. However, I don't believe most of store brand greek yogurt has gelatin added in them so it still doesn't answer how they get the ratio of protein to carb so high.

3. Yes, I get approximately that ratio, I'm left with about 37% of greek yogurt vs original volume at the lowest, ie. 63% of the yogurt volume goes away in whey.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 4:10AM
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Yes, I'm sure the industrial food producers have better technology. But I'm curious what those are and if any of them can be applied to home made greek yogurt.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 4:12AM
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About your second post .

If this was strictly about the protein g/$, I think my home made yogurt is already more competitive than the store brand.

Using the cheaper milk from Costco, my home made greek yogurt costs $0.05/oz vs $0.14/oz for the Fage 0% at Costco, and that is the cheapest I have found per once so far. So my home made yogurt is 65% cheaper on a weight basis.

However, 1 cup of my homemade yogurt has 18.2g of protein vs 23g for 1 cup of the Fage, ie. my homemade yogurt has 20% less protein than store brand.
So, home made is still cheaper than store brand for the same amount of protein.

But homemade also has 13.6g of carb vs 9g for Fage, it. Ie. 51% more carbs.

The ratio is what concerns me most here - ie. 51% higher carb content of my homemade yogurt. Not just that my yogurt has 20% less protein than store brand.

re: raw milk, I believe it's illegal in California, but anyway, I'm immuno-compromised, so even if it was, I wouldn't go near it personally. I don't drink milk - I like to eat yogurt and cheese.

re: taste, unless I eat my homemade yogurt the same day it's made, the store brand usually tastes a little better.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 4:25AM
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Re: your last post, I have tried several different started cultures. The cultures were much more of an issue when I was incubating regular yogurt. Some produced more whey than others. The required incubation time could vary dramatically also. I didn't like the taste of whey at all, and when I realized about the high carb content in regular yogurt, stopped trying to improve my homemade regular yogurt.

I have found it much easier to make greek yogurt. Since the whey is drained, the resulting yogurt tastes better. The taste of whey is really repellent to me.

The goal is to improve the protein to carb ratio of my yogurt.
In theory, if I drained more whey, I could remove all the carbs without removing all the protein, and thus have a nearly infinite protein to carb ratio :)

However, I have done the math and I don't think that's possible. If 85% of the weight of the yogurt was drained as whey, the resulting yogurt would have 256 calories per cup, 47.7g of protein and 18.24g of sugar.
Ie. a 2.6:1 ratio of protein to carb. About the same as the store yogurt, yes, but also with 2x as many calories. My guess is that would be some inedible thick yogurt !

However, I just don't think it's possible to remove that much whey. There has to be some process through which more sugar is removed than just by straining the whey.

That, or I'm using the wrong nutritional information for the liquid whey.

Adding protein like gelatin would work, it would increase the protein : carb ratio, it but would also increase the calories to an amount much higher than the amount in store brand yogurt.

Right now my home made yogurt has the same calories as store brand - only the protein : carb ratio is off.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 4:42AM
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Have you added, or considered adding, casein protein powder to your homemade yogurt to increase the protein profile? It could possibly be added like powdered milk when you make your yogurt, but probably easier to use it as an add-in when you eat it.

Whey and casein are two proteins in milk. Whey protein is digested rapidly and is good for post-workout use, while casein protein is digested more slowly and is good to use your last meal before going to bed.

Another high-protein powder add-in you might consider is Peanut Flour or PB2.

Protein Plus roasted peanut flour (
1/4 cup-
16g. protein
8 g. total carbohydrate (2 g. sugar and 4 g. dietary fiber)

I make kefir with real kefir grains (which is better for you than yogurt for many reasons - but that's another discussion for another day). When I drain the whey from the curd I make "Whey Lemonade" - fresh-squeezed lemon juice and add some chia seeds and/or coconut water (stevia if you want it sweetened) for a great beverage for rehydrating and quick recovery when working in the heat.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 8:55AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

" There has to be some process through which more sugar is removed than just by straining the whey. "

Yep, right, processes you don't have access to.

BTW my earlier post wasn't to disagree with you, if it seemed that way. I was agreeing when you that from a pure point of economy, making your own yogurt is better. However, there's no way you're going to be able to exactly match the nutrition specs of fat-free low-carb Chobani or whatever you see yourself competing with. But it's not clear to my why you want to; unless you have severe dietary issues I can't imagine the small amt. of sugar in plain yogurt would be a problem. If you want more protein you can buy purified casein protein used a bodybuilding supplement and mix it in. Whey does taste strange especially if processed the wrong way. I once tried to make my own ricotta, extremely amateurishly. I realized it was best left to the professionals. It was like eating melted plastic.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 10:58AM
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Are you counting the carbohydrates in milk for your total? If so, how can you calibrate how much lactose (milk sugar) is consumed/converted by the bacteria during fermentation, or perhaps you didn't even give that consideration.

I've read how fermenting milk into kefir will reduce the amount of carbs by approximately half, without draining off the whey. I would assume something similar is true about making yogurt. The longer the fermentation, the lower the remaining carbs from the milk sugar (lactose). This is why kefir is low in lactose -- the milk sugar is converted by the bacteria during fermentation - and any remaining lactose is converted to make it easy to digest.

That might be an area for more research.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 11:26AM
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