The Yoplait Diet: Review
What is the Yoplait diet?
The Yoplait diet is relatively new and based upon the positive results of a clinical trial sponsored by the University of Tennessee, conducted in collaboration with the National Dairy Council/University of Kansas. This diet is fairly low in calories (1,200 calories per day) and is targeted to women though there are variations for men. The caloric distribution is as follows: about 30% of total calories come from protein, 25% from fat and 45% from carbohydrate. Breakfast and lunch are replaced with one container of Yoplait Light yogurt, one piece of fruit and one granola bar or a serving of cereal.
What is the science behind this diet?
The role of dairy products in weight management is not a new concept. A variety of research studies have examined the effect of calcium-rich foods on enhancing weight loss and lowering body fat. In one such study, published in Obesity Research in 2004, 41 obese subjects were divided into three groups and given calorie-restricted diets (a deficit of 500 calories per day) to result in a weight loss of one pound per week. Group 1 consumed a ‘low-calcium’ diet (430 mg/day). Group 2 took calcium supplements (1200 mg per day) and group 3 ate calcium-rich foods, enough to provide 1100 mg calcium daily. By the end of the study the low calcium group had lost 15 pounds, the calcium supplemented group lost 19 pounds, and the group that consumed calcium-rich dairy products lost 24 pounds. More significant was the difference in fat lost from the participants’ midsection: it represented an average of only 19% of total fat loss in the low-calcium diet group but 50% and 66% of fat lost in the second and third groups, respectively.
The University of Tennessee trial involved 340 individuals that had lost weight on a low-calorie diet (designed to result in a 10 kg loss in 10 weeks). After achieving this goal, participants were randomly assigned to a high- or low-calcium diet group (each providing the same amount of calories and percent of calories from carbohydrate, protein and fat). Their progress was followed for two years (2008 through 2010). Those on the high-calcium diet consumed three servings of Yoplait light yogurt daily as a meal replacement or snack. High-calcium participants continued to lose weight on this plan yet maintained their lean body mass, more so than the low-calcium group. Thus, the calcium in yogurt and other dairy products may help increase one’s fat-burning ability.
Where can I find the diet specifications?
This clinical trial lead to the ‘birth’ of the Yoplait diet, a ’2 week tune-up’ plan brought to you by Yoplait, USA. The plan details are on the Yoplait website under the “Living Healthy” tab. It more or less recommends following the structure of the maintenance diet plan from the trial by the same name. The website offers tools and resources, such as recipes (mainly for dinners), a skeleton meal plan using the Exchange system for meal planning (with a list of what ‘one’ serving is within each food group and a sample week meal plan), a “tips and to do’s” list, a printable food/shopping list and weight loss tracking sheet as well as a frequently asked questions webpage. In regards to exercise, recommendations are non-specific. The website simply states that you should “walk for 30 to 40 minutes daily”.
Is this a sound, effective diet? What are the ‘pros?’
This ‘tune-up diet’ can help you lose as much as 10 pounds in two weeks because it is low in calories and includes exercise. The caloric distribution is in line with the Dietary Reference Intakes for Americans (less than 35% of calories from fat, 10 to 35% of calories from protein and 45 to 65% of calories from carbohydrate). You can access helpful tools, tips and resources online for free. The daily meal plan includes adequate amounts of protein, about five servings of fruits and vegetables (the minimum), three servings of dairy (mainly yogurt) and some whole grains. While not a starvation diet, it is, in general, safe and effective for short-term use only because it is restrictive and you are replacing two meals per day with low-calorie breakfast foods. The foods are readily available and, for the most part, affordable.
What are the ‘cons’ or drawbacks to this diet?
Many of the foods recommended are General Mills ‘branded’ products (such as Yoplait yogurt). Thus, some of the foods are processed, such as cereals and granola bars. The meal plan is lacking the daily minimum recommended intake for starch/grains (6 oz. or more) and may be low in certain essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Though walking is recommended, the exercise guidelines are very non-specific and do not include information on strength training or flexibility exercise sessions, which are essential for retaining muscle mass and overall fitness. In addition, cardiovascular or walking intensity is not specified. Though called ‘the Yoplait diet’ and General Mills products are included in the meal plans, any yogurt and whole grain cereals that provide the same amount of calories would be appropriate.
- Zemel MB, Thompson W, Milstead A, Morris K, Campbell P. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obes Res. 2004 Apr;12(4):582-90. 2004.
- Clinical Trials: The Role of Dairy Products in Weight Maintenance.
- Yoplait.com: 2 Week Tune Up diet plan.