Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dannon Adds Splenda To Popular Yogurt Line, But Does That Make It Low-Carb?

Dannon's Light 'n Fit yogurt with Splenda debuts in January 2006

Yogurt giant Dannon is launching a brand new version of their popular Light 'n Fit line of products in January 2006 that are made with the preferred artificial sweetener of people who are livin' la vida low-carb -- SPLENDA!

This new Light 'n Fit nonfat yogurt with Splenda will be the first major yogurt line with only 60 calories for each 6 oz. serving and will be available nationwide by the end of January 2006. This newly reformulated version has the familiar smooth and creamy texture of the original, but has 1/3 fewer calories since it is made with Splenda.

It will be available in 12 flavors, including Blackberry Pie, Raspberry, Strawberry Banana, Strawberry, Strawberry Kiwi, Vanilla, White Chocolate Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Vanilla, Blueberry, Lemon Chiffon, and Orange Mango.

Unfortunately, while it contains Splenda and has less calories, this new version of the Dannon Light 'n Fit yogurt has MORE carbohydrates and sugars than the original version does! I was stunned to find that it has a whopping 10-15 grams of total carbs, of which 7-10 grams come from the natural sugars found in milk. That's way too high for someone in the weight loss mode of the low-carb lifestyle. But if you are maintaining your weight and can afford that many carbs in your diet plan, then this product is certainly a tasty option for you.

Interestingly, Dannon has also reformulated their 7 fl oz. Light 'n Fit Smoothies also made with Splenda and it comes in six flavors -- Strawberry, Strawberry Kiwi, Strawberry Banana, Mixed Berry, Peach Passion, and Tropical. But, yet again this product is very high in carbs from a "low-carb" standpoint with 13 grams of total carbs, 12 of which are sugars.

That fact will make it very difficult for people trying to lose weight on low-carb to stay within their carbohydrate budget. However, if you are maintaining like I am and consuming as many as 100g carbs per day, then this is a delicious and refreshing alternative to an unhealthy candy bar or ice cream cone.

Registered dietitian Carolyn O'Neil provides nutrition advice

Additionally, Dannon has teamed up with registered dietitian Carolyn O'Neil to develop a weight loss plan called the Light ’n Fit™ Right Fit Plan™ to help people lose a pound a week by evaluating the individual's body mass index, examining their daily caloric intake, and making suggestions about healthy meal plans as well as exercise and journal tips.

Just as Subway restaurants disregarded the benefits of the low-carb lifestyle with their New Year's resolution promotion revealed earlier this week, so too is Dannon missing the boat with their weight loss promotion. I do not fault them for trying to help people lose weight and using their products to help people get there. But failing to understand the needs of people who are eating low-carb is part of the problem with their approach to marketing their product.

Looking at BMI, counting calories, and eating a so-called "balanced" diet -- all of which are recommended by Ms. O'Neill -- are NOT what livin' la vida low-carb is all about. Healthy living, the low-carb way, is radically different from that and simply adding Splenda to a product isn't going to make it better for you.

Dannon focuses way too much on the lower calorie count and the fact that their product is fat-free, but what about the carbs? That's what is most important to those of us on the low-carb lifestyle as we evaluate what we are going to put in our mouths to eat. When are companies going to "get" it?

I was honored that Dannon pre-selected the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog to be one of the first outlets to announce their brand new line of products with Splenda coming to the market next month. They said they did this as "a thank you for the honest and quality wieght-loss content you provide to the Web community."

While I appreciate their vote of confidence in what I do here, I could not in good conscience withhold my heartfelt concerns about their product from you. Companies like Dannon need to understand that healthy does not automatically equal low-fat and low-calorie. To low-carbers, especially ones who are still losing weight, healthy means sugar-free and 3g or less of carbohydrates per serving. Is that too much to ask for?

I do appreciate Dannon's Light 'n Fit Carb Control line of products which contain just 3g carbs, 1g of sugar and are sweetened with Splenda. These are a much better option for people losing weight on a low-carb lifestyle. I HIGHLY recommend them to low-carbers in any phase of the program to fill you need for yogurt.

Will I try the new Light 'n Fit yogurt with Splenda? You betcha! But I'll be careful not to overconsume them because of the sugar that is in it. Be looking for this product in your local grocery stores by late January 2006.

12-29-05 UPDATE: My friend Regina Wilshire provided some additional information about yogurt and carb counts that I was not aware of:

She wrote:

You may want to read up on yogurt and the carbohydrate content - some interesting analysis from Dr. Barry Lewis and Dr. Karen O'Mara, authors of the GO! Diet.

The live cultures (bacteria) in yogurt survive on the lactose in the milk by using it as their food source, thus actually lowering the lactose (sugar) content. Plain yogurt typically has 11g of carbohydrate listed on the label.

From their analysis those following a carbohydrate restricted diet would need to "count" only 4g of carbs due to the breakdown of the lactose by the various bacteria in the yogurt. Lora Ruffner of has a good article about yogurt on her site.

In it she writes:

The problem with the stated carbohydrate content on the packages of fermented food products arises because the government makes manufacturers count the carbohydrates of food "by difference." That means they measure everything else including water and ash and fats and proteins. Then "by difference," they assume everything else is carbohydrate. This works quite well for most foods including milk.

However, to make yogurt, buttermilk and kefir, the milk is inoculated with the lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria use up almost all the milk sugar called "lactose" and convert it into lactic acid. It is this lactic acid which curds the milk and gives the taste to the product. Since these bacteria have "eaten" most of the milk sugar by the time you buy it (or make it yourself.) At the time you eat it, how can there be much carbohydrate left? It is the lactic acid which is counted as carbohydrate.

Therefore, you can eat up to a half cup of plain yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir and only count 2 grams of carbohydrates (Dr. Goldberg has measured this in his own laboratory.) One cup will contain about 4 grams of carbohydrates. Daily consumption colonizes the intestine with these bacteria to handle small amounts of lactose in yogurt (or even sugar-free ice cream later.)

GREAT information, Regina! THANKS so much for sharing. There needs to be a way for the average low-carber to KNOW about this stuff. Continuing the education process is a BIG part of that.

Class for today has now concluded from visiting Professor Wilshire. :)


1-11-06 UPDATE: Well, I got to try the new Splenda-sweetened Light 'n Fit today from a sample that Dannon sent to me. I must confess that I am not a big fan of yogurt to begin with. However, with that said, I am not going to lie to you about this product: THIS STUFF IS SOOOOOOO GOOD!!! It is a creamy and refreshing way to enjoy the healthy low-carb benefits of yogurt without all the sugars that are typically found in most yogurts. You will DEFINITELY want to get some of this when it comes out later this month. Incredibly smooth, rich in flavor and oh so good for you, too! Perfect when you are livin' la vida low-carb, wouldn't you say? Eat up...TO YOUR HEALTH!


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Hi Jimmy, Ms. Wiltshire is certainly correct. In fact, I recall Dana Carpender testing the glycemic response of yoghurt on herself with similar results. It's quite safe to consume (good quality, unsweetened, full-fat) yoghurt on a low-carb diet. Makes delicious smoothies and shakes too, with some sugar-free chocolate syrup, for example. Also nice in salad dressings, just a dash of it gives a nice tangy taste and smooth, creamy consistency. Add some Splenda to your taste. Yum :)

12/29/2005 11:51 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I usually eat the Dannon low carb sweetened with Splenda. It's only 4 oz., though, which isn't really a "serving" to me. I *loved* the low carb Yoplait (6 oz.) until they discontinued it.

1/04/2006 2:02 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

The story just got rid of sugar-free yogurt. So if I buy plain yogurt I would only count 4g of carbs per 8 oz.?

Please help me with this! My yogurt was just taken away but I have to count carbs very carefully and am afraid of the high sugar content I see on the label.

2/22/2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Newbirth! From what I have been told, yogurt sugars do not have to be counted like the ones founds in other foods. They just don't count the same. SEVERAL of my low-carb expert friends have confirmed this and assured me that you have nothing to worry about with the sugars. THANKS and I hope this gives you peace of mind.

2/22/2006 4:39 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I think I'll buy some plain yogurt and also try this Dannon stuff. Just stay away from anything with added sugar, right?

Carb Countdown milk is gone, so milk is out of my diet. :-p

I'm writing a blog entry on all this right now.

2/22/2006 10:23 PM  

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