All yogurt begins with two simple ingredients – milk and beneficial bacteria. The type of milk can vary, from full-fat to non-fat, but these two simple ingredients remain.
So, why, you might ask, does a full-fat Greek yogurt contain more protein than other full-fat yogurts? The process of making Greek yogurt starts out exactly the same, but Greek yogurt adds one more crucial step.
In making Greek yogurt you take your cultured “regular” yogurt and strain the whey out of it. That is the only difference between Greek and regular yogurt. Here is how the nutritional profile of Greek yogurt changes due to this one simple process.
The whey contained in yogurt contains amino acids, calcium, lactose (if there is still some left after culturing), small amounts of protein, and B vitamins.
When you strain your yogurt through a towel or sheets of cheesecloth you are, in effect, removing the nutrients in the whey and concentrating the nutrients in the “curd” of the yogurt. The “curd” of the yogurt is where all of the milk solids lie, and therefore almost all of the milk protein.
Let’s say you strain two cups of yogurt and end up with one cup of whey and one cup of dense yogurt. This yogurt now has a much more concentrated protein content than a cup of yogurt that has not been strained since that cup still contains the nutrients in the whey as well.
Greek yogurt also tends to be slightly less tangy since the whey contains a considerable amount of (beneficial) acids. So Greek yogurt is more favorable for those who prefer a less tart yogurt.
The downside of straining out the whey is that you do lose the calcium found in the whey. You can, however, consume that whey in another food product (such as soaked grains, in baked goods, or drunk straight up), and enjoy thick, higher protein Greek yogurt.