A Dietitian Finally Settles the Debate on Whether To Pour or Stir in the Liquid on Top of Your Yogurt

Photo: Getty/ Betsie Van der Meer
Picture this: You step out of bed to prepare for your day, and stroll towards the fridge to start your morning with a healthy breakfast. You crack open the refrigerator door and grab your morning yogurt, and suddenly, as you peel back the foil top, you’re faced with a pool of liquid and the question: to stir or not to stir? Are you supposed to pour that out? Is it bad that your yogurt separated? Try not to go into an existential crisis, because we’ve got answers.

Registered dietitian Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, creator of For The Love of Diabetes implores you not to toss it, as you could be dumping out some much-needed nutrition (and doing yourself a disservice when it comes to the yogurt’s texture). Step away from the sink!

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For starters, this "yogurt water" has a name. “The liquid on top of the yogurt is called acid whey,” explains Zanini. “It's not necessary to pour it out prior to eating your yogurt, as the whey has beneficial nutrients and helps enhance the creamy texture of the yogurt.” So not only does this stuff add nutritional value, but it also enhances the flavor and feel of the gut-enhancing snack.

What are those nutrients, exactly? Zanini says: “The whey does contain some calcium, protein, potassium, and lactose.” As you may know, women are at higher risk for calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia), so it’s important to get it in where you can, and as for potassium, this electrolyte is essential for blood pressure, heartbeat, muscular function, and your nervous system. Protein is also incredibly valuable for our bodies (and muscles!), and yogurts tend to be a rich source of this as well.

If you want to follow Zanini’s recommendation for what to do with your acid whey, it's this: Don’t dump it out, just stir it all together into a luscious, silky mixture. She says that though it creates a creamier texture, it does not, in fact, change the taste at all. The only reason to toss this liquid nutrition? If you don’t like the look of it, which… feels a little silly. If you really can’t stand it, and you're not going to change you mind any way any how, Zanini is again here to save the day. Simply switch up which yogurt you’re buying, she says. “If you don't like the liquid on top of yogurt, look for Greek yogurt,” Zanini recommends. “It is strained to remove the whey, which is why it is thicker.” Whatever you choose, just know that the liquid of top of your yogurt is harmless, and can even be beneficial.

What's more, if you're into alt-yogurts, here's absolutely everything to know about them, and how to add them into your daily rotation:

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