Ask the Diva: What Happens to Milk When You Make Yogurt?

Nutrition Diva explains what happens to milk during the process of making yogurt.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Ask the Diva: What Happens to Milk When You Make Yogurt?

Q. I've recently started making my own yogurt at home. What happens to the milk when it turns into yogurt? Does the nutritional make-up stay the same? If I remove the whey via a strainer to make Greek yogurt, what am I losing?

A. Fermenting milk doesn’t significantly change the fat, calories, or protein content of milk but it does change the make-up of the carbohydrates. The beneficial bacteria that turn milk into yogurt digest the sugar (lactose) in milk and produce lactic acid, which is what gives yogurt its tart tang. Although the total amount of carbohydrates is about the same, the lactose levels in commercial yogurt may be anywhere from 20 to 50% lower than milk. The longer you ferment your yogurt, the less lactose it will have (and the more tart it will be). Straining your yogurt to make a Greek style yogurt removes even more of the lactose. However, you’ll also lose about half of the calcium.

Want to try making your own yogurt at home? Here’s how I do it.

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Woman Eating Yogurt photo from Shutterstock

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.