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Nutrition

Demystifying Frozen Yogurt: Splurge or Frequent Treat?

One thing's for certain: it's rejoined the pace of health-coscious treats.

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One thing’s for certain: it’s rejoined the pace of health-coscious treats.

Written by: Sabrina Grotewold

A hot trend in the 1990s before falling out of vogue for several years, frozen yogurt’s rejoined the lead pack of health-conscious treats, thanks to the tart temptations and consumer-select toppings made popular by rapidly mushrooming chains like Red Mango and Pinkberry. Even triathlon champion and 2008 Olympian Matty “Boom Boom” Reed has jumped on the froyo express: He and wife Kelly just opened a frozen yogurt bar called BOOM Yogurt Bar in their hometown of Boulder, Colo. Working with local food producers, BOOM features locally made ingredients and toppings like Justin’s Nut Butter, Boulder Granola and Kim and Jakes Cakes.

More from Competitor.com: Demystifying Sports Nutrition: Straightforward Tips & Expert Secrets

Touted as a food that people can feel free to indulge in more often than other desserts because of its probiotic, low-calorie, low- or non-fat, sometimes sugar-free and antioxidant-enhanced traits, many athletes figure froyo is a more healthful swap for ice cream, but how often should people indulge? The answer should depend entirely on an individual’s fitness, nutrition, weight loss or maintenance, and even financial—a medium Pinkberry original with toppings is $4.95—goals. A nutritional side-by-side comparison of three popular brands provides eye-opening information:

Tasti D-Lite

Ingredients: dairy bases contain water, non-fat milk, sugar, corn syrup, cream, guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, lactase and either vanilla or cocoa. Flavor ingredients are not divulged.

Depending on the flavor, one serving—four fluid ounces—contains between 70 and 100 calories, about 11 to 18 grams of sugar, 1 to 3.5 grams of fat, and about 11 to 20 grams of carbs.

Takeaway: The Tart ‘n Tasti flavors tend to have the highest calories, sugar and carbs; the peanut butter flavors tend to have the most fat. Unless you’re celebrating a training milestone or big race finish, avoid the temptation to get a customized combination that includes a Coldstone Creamery-like blend of toppings and flavored syrups mixed with the yogurt. Because Tasti’s base is made from milk, it doesn’t contain live cultures.

Pinkberry

Ingredients: Original flavor contains nonfat milk, sugar, cultured pasteurized nonfat milke with live and active cultures, and less than two percent of cultured nonfat milk powder, fructose, dextrose, citric acid, guar gum, maltodextrin mono-and diglycerides, starch.

Nutritional content varies vastly according to flavor or combination of flavors and toppings. One half-cup serving of original contains 100 calories, 0 grams fat, 21 grams of carbs and 20 grams of sugar. The highest-calorie and fat yogurt flavor is peanut butter, which contains 170 calories, 7 grams fat, 23 grams of carbs and 20 grams of sugar per serving.

Takeaway: It’s easy to walk away with a cup filled with as much, if not more, sugar as a candy bar, and possibly more calories. Sure, you’re getting the nutritive benefit of active live cultures, calcium and a little protein, but opt for the smallest size and top with fruit and maybe a sprinkle of nuts or coconut.

Yogurtland

Ingredients: not divulged with the exception of milk

Nutritional content varies widely here, too. The lowest-calorie flavors contain 80 calories per half-cup; the highest-calorie flavors range from 120-130 per serving. All flavors contain one gram of fat or less, from 17-27 grams of carbs, and five to 26 grams of sugar per serving.

Takeaway: With self-serve yogurt pumps, an all-you-can-stuff-in-your-cup toppings bar and only two tub sizes: large and extra large, it’s hard to avoid a caloric avalanche here. Yes, the freedom of choice is liberating, but know this before you head into the free-for-all: One half-cup serving—and who knows how many servings can be squashed into those gigantic cups—of Yogurtland’s innocent-sounding plain tart flavor contains 110 calories and 26 grams of sugar. If you’re swirling three servings into that large cup, that’s 330 calories and 78 grams of sugar—and that’s before you even hit the cheesecake bite- and kit kat-filled toppings bar!

[sig:SabrinaGrotewold]