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Ice cream is a much-loved dessert, especially during spring and summer. It is made by churning and chilling a mixture containing high-fat milk or cream, sweeteners, usually in the form of corn syrup, and flavorings such as vanilla or chocolate.
Although it has adequate amounts of nutrients, it is also relatively high in carbs, leaving us with the question, can I have ice cream on the keto diet? Check out the nutritional information of different ice cream types and learn whether or not it’s keto-friendly!
Ice Cream Nutritional Information
Ice cream’s nutrition depends on the flavor, variety, and brand. And finding out whether or not it is keto-friendly depends on how much you consume. A serving of ice cream is usually ½ cup or 65-92 grams and has about 115-210 calories.
Ice cream is usually lower in fat compared to carbs, which is not the ideal ratio for the keto diet. Being made from milk it contains about 1-3 grams of protein per serving.
As for carbs, typical ice creams have around 15 to 20 grams per half a cup, depending on the variety. Sugar-free ice cream has about 15 grams per half a cup, low-fat ice cream and regular has 17 grams of carbs, and premium ice cream has the most carbs, usually about 20 grams per ½ cup.
This high carb content is because of the high sugar content. Ice cream harbors added sugars and sweeteners like sugar alcohols, which may cause digestive distress, including bloating and gas, in some individuals. Too much may also kick you out of ketosis! Even sugar-free ice cream in grocery stores may not be keto-friendly because of the high carb content.
Ice cream is a rich source of phosphorus and calcium, providing about 6 and 10% of the daily value, respectively, per 1/2-cup serving. Both minerals are important for muscle function and skeletal health. Calcium, an essential mineral found in ice cream, is helpful for skeletal health since our bodies don’t naturally produce calcium.
Ice cream, aside from being a yummy dessert, has some health benefits. For instance, a study concluded that having ice cream for breakfast could be just what you need to give your brain a boost. The researcher compared a group of people who had ice cream with a group who had a glass of cold water first thing in the morning, and the ones who ate ice cream were much more alert.
But don’t make this study a reason for you to eat ice cream for breakfast every day! Elevated blood sugar, especially in the morning, leads to rebound hunger that causes you to eat more at the next meal, which can make you gain weight!
Ice cream can also boost your immune system since it is a form of fermented dairy. Fermented foods are known to help protect your body from gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. The stronger your gut and respiratory systems are, the stronger your immune system will be.
Keto Diet Overview
The ketogenic diet, as we know, recommends a dramatic reduction in your carb intake and replacing them with fats. This high-fat and low-carb diet enables a metabolic state called ketosis to produce ketones from the fat breakdowns. These ketones are then used for energy in the absence of glucose from the carbs.
Originally used as a diet for epileptic children, keto has been linked to several health benefits like weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
The basis of the diet includes low-carb foods such as eggs, meat, fatty fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, as well as non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and bell peppers.
Is Ice Cream Keto-Friendly?
The truth is, many foods are keto-friendly if you know how to consume high-carb food items in moderation. Because ice cream is very high in carbs even with just a small serving, limiting yourself to ¼ cups a day may not hurt you. The key is to find the right type of ice cream or make it yourself so you can control what goes into it.
Sugar-free ice cream, for instance, has an adequate amount of protein for muscle building and repairing. It also has fat, which is the cornerstone of the keto diet.
Ice cream is rich in calcium, an essential nutrient for your overall health. It can also help you lose weight and keep it off. There have been several studies that show how a diet that includes foods rich in calcium may help with weight loss and help keep you from gaining the weight back.
One of the best dietary sources of calcium is milk, but dairy can pose a problem for people who are committed to their low-carb diet like keto. So, the amount of protein, calcium, and fat in ice cream will not really compensate for their heavy calorie and carb load in it.
If your daily carb limit is below 25g a day, then ice cream may not be a good option, especially if you are new to the keto diet and still trying to lose weight. You may consume only a quarter a cup (if you can!) or purchase good keto-approved ice cream.
Or you can always make your own at home!
Keto Ice Cream Recipe
You can still satisfy your sweet tooth on the ketogenic diet by making your own keto ice cream! With keto whipped cream, a staple in many keto desserts, you can dress it up in many ways to create different flavors of ice cream.
The first step is to make keto whipped cream with 1 cup of grass-fed heavy cream and simply mix it with a mixer on high for around 2 minutes until soft peaks form.
Then, you may add your choice of sweetener if you want to. A teaspoon of liquid stevia is usually recommended for this recipe, especially for those who experience digestive distress, but many sugar-free sweeteners are suitable for keto too! You may also use monk fruit, although it is not 100% carb-free.
With the whipped cream, you can finally make your own low-carb ice cream! All you need are the following:
- 1 recipe of sugar-free condensed milk
- 1 ½ cup keto whipped cream
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbsp vodka (optional, to reduce iciness).
This homemade ice cream only has 2.4 grams of carbs which is almost 10 times less than the number of carbs in store-bought products!
Can I Have Ice Cream on the Keto Diet?
The average carb limit of a person on keto is 20 to 50 grams, and half a cup of store-bought ice cream already has 15-20 grams. That said, ice cream may not be the best keto dessert for most unless you can find a good keto-approved brand.
The best recommendation we could give is to make your own homemade ice cream. This allows you to control the ingredients so you can indulge your craving! Remember to save it for occasional treats and make sure not to exceed your daily carb limit so as not to get kicked out of ketosis.
Want to avoid ice cream altogether? Try some of these healthy keto snacks instead.