Got Halo Top? Just Eat the Real Ice Cream, Says One Dietitian

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.  |, July 2017

Why pounding a pint of super-low-calorie ice cream might not be such a good idea.

I love ice cream—going out for a cone is an almost-weekly summer activity and sometimes a carton or two even makes its way into my freezer. But there's a new ice cream in town that people keep asking me about: Halo Top. And it's not just Halo Top, there's low-calorie Arctic Zero and Breyers Delights too—all boasting their pint's low calorie count.

Related: 100-Calorie Popsicle Recipes

Halo Top ice cream has between 240 and 360 calories per pint. Most premium ice creams, like Ben & Jerry's, have that many calories in just 1/2 cup (that's one-quarter of a pint). If you're a Halo Top fanatic—by all means, feel free to indulge in this frozen dessert over real ice cream. It's just that, despite the whopping calorie savings, I think real ice cream trumps low-calorie frozen desserts, and here's why.

1. Ingredient Lists

The ingredients in Halo Top actually aren't that bad compared to some other low-calorie or "lite" versions of foods that may be loaded with fillers and preservatives. However, they do have more ingredients than a regular ice cream (or one you would make at home) and their main sweetener is erythritol. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols may cause digestion issues in some people, especially when consumed in large amounts. Erythritol is the least likely of all the sugar alcohols to cause stomach upset.

Related: 10 Surprising Food Sources of "Natural" & Artificial Sweeteners

Halo Top Vanilla Bean

Ingredients: Milk and cream, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, vanilla extract, vanilla beans, sea salt, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 60 calories; 2 g fat(1 g sat); 3 g fiber; 13 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 40 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 110 mg sodium.

Ben & Jerry's Vanilla

Ingredients: Cream, skim milk, liquid sugar (sugar, water), egg yolks, sugar, guar gum, vanilla extract, vanilla beans, carrageenan.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 250 calories; 16 g fat(10 g sat); 0 g fiber; 21 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 90 mg cholesterol; 20 g sugars; 50 mg sodium.

2. Feeling Satisfied

When you really want ice cream, you may not feel satisfied with a low-calorie version. Personally, I'd always rather have a little of the real deal than a lot of a substitute. These new ice creams have a "health halo" and are perceived as being healthier, which means you might eat more later because you feel like you can indulge still. A recent study published in Appetite found that when people drank a shake they thought was healthy, they ate more snacks afterwards. When people drank the same shake but were told it was indulgent, they didn't snack as much post-shake. Indulge a little, feel satisfied and you may find your body naturally resets itself to crave fruits, veggies and whole grains.

Related: 10 Secrets of the Eat-What-You-Want Diet

3. It's a Treat

We all need to treat ourselves once in a while. Maybe it's a pedicure, maybe it's a dinner out and maybe it's ice cream. Sure, you could eat a pint of ice cream every day, but wouldn't it lose some of its appeal? Whichever ice cream you choose, keep your portion sizes sensible and maybe don't indulge every night. Fruit makes a great post-dinner snack—especially in summer when so many delicious ones are in season—and fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Related: 5 Clean-Eating Desserts With No Added Sugar

Bottom Line

While I think real ice cream once in a while is the way to go, these new low-calorie ice creams could be a good fit if you're trying to lose weight or have diabetes or another chronic condition that impacts your diet. Aim to eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins and fats—and leave some room for the occasional treat.

Video: How to Make Soft Serve with No Added Sugar