Ice Cream Diets- Is It An Effective Diet For A Healthy Weight Loss?

Typically, people think to lose weight you need to deprive yourself of your favourite foods like ice cream, but for any long-term lifestyle change to work, you need to incorporate those “forbidden” foods into your diet.

Ice Cream Diets- Is It An Effective Diet For A Healthy Weight Loss?

As a dietitian, I resonated with the book “The Ice Cream Diet” written by fellow dietitian Holly McCord that shows you can, in fact, include ice cream into your day to day and still lose weight.

The Ice Cream Industry:

Ice Cream Industry

Did you know that in 2016 the ice cream industry in the US was 8 billion dollars? That’s right, according to the IBIS World Industry Market Report Americans consumed 8 billion dollars in ice cream last year, with 41% stating it’s their favourite dessert over cookies, cakes and pies.

In fact, the average American consumes 23 pounds of ice cream throughout the span of only one year! Therefore, with those statistics planning a lifestyle change and new eating pattern that cuts out foods like ice cream can be a very hard feat for many people.

Why Aren’t You Losing Weight?

Most of us have attempted a diet which is typically very low-calorie and cuts out all enjoyment from food. You take a look at your new diet plan off of a website that boasts very slender women, and you decide to take the plunge.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, if you deprive yourself of your favourite treats like ice cream you most likely will find yourself in the bottom of pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia three weeks into your diet. Sounds familiar, right?

low-calorie ice cream

Most people I know have done it countless times which is referred to as binge eating. Why? It’s because if we tell ourselves, we can’t have something it makes ice cream all that more appealing and increases the chances of continuing a binge eating pattern.

This can also lead to what we frequently refer to as yo-yo dieting or weight cycling. This refers to when people lose weight at a rapid pace but then after their very low-calorie diet put back the weight and then some afterwards.

If it’s not a sustainable eating pattern, your weight won’t be either.

How Do You Lose The Healthy Way?

You want to establish a healthy eating pattern consisting of the appropriate macronutrients and micronutrients your body needs.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

A healthy eating pattern at an achievable and sustainable calorie level will help maintain a healthy weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. A recommended healthy weight loss pattern consists of 1-2 pounds per week through diet and exercise.

The recommended breakdown of your calories for the macronutrients in your diet according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 

  • 50-65% of your total calories for the day should come from carbohydrates, 10% from added sugars
  • 15-20% of your total calories for the day should come from protein 
  • 30% of your total calories for the day should come from fats, <10% from saturated fats

In order to be successful in your weight loss journey and establishing a healthy lifestyle, you should incorporate physical activity along with your eating pattern.

Fitness Exercise

In addition to weight loss exercise is also going to make improvements inside your body like reducing chances of chronic disease. Just think, walking two miles is burning 160 calories!

There are so many ways to incorporate exercise if you think outside the box just like staying under 1500 calories and eating your ice cream!

Here are my top five ways to incorporate physical activity into your day:

  • Park further away
  • Taking the stairs versus elevator
  • Walking or running groups (Invite your friends or family to make it even more fun!)
  • Joining the YMCA or local gym (Many centres have daycare so you can work out without worrying about your children)
  • Bike riding or going to the park with your kids (This can also teach your children the value of physical activity)

What Is The Ice Cream Diet?

The Ice Cream Diet premise is that you don’t need to eliminate your favourite foods and can incorporate them into an overall healthy eating pattern.

This diet takes a look at the benefits from ice cream including calcium effects on weight loss and also explains the health benefits from losing weight and decreasing chances of chronic diseases associated with overweight and obesity.

According to the Ice Cream, Diet’s meal plan which allows women to lose a ½ pound per week established an overall caloric intake of 1500 calories per day. The meals and snacks (including ice cream) allow three meals, an afternoon snack plus a full cup of ice cream!

For men to lose a pound per week, the Ice Cream Diet provides a 2000 calorie diet with meals and afternoon snack totalling 1625 which then leaves room for 1 ½ cups of ice cream!

Ice Cream Diet Routine

One huge tip that I thought was great in the Ice Cream Diet is the “Ice cream diet pledge” that essentially is your routine when you allow yourself this great treat.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

  • Any ice cream or toppings go into a dish- Eating out of the carton is dangerous, so portion out your ice cream and toppings into a bowl.
  • The container goes back into the freezer- Once you are done portioning, that’s exactly it, you’re done.
  • You eat your ice cream away from the kitchen- This promotes less chances of getting seconds.

Also, don’t forget the toppings. They contribute to overall caloric intake so remember if you are spicing up your nightly ice cream treat they can add up.

Chocolate syrup can range around 100 calories for 2 tablespoons, but a ¼ cup of freshly sliced strawberries are only 20 calories!

So, What Kind Of Ice Cream?

Everyone has their favourite ice cream flavours and in order to incorporate ice cream into your lifestyle and still lose that healthy 1-2 pounds per week, you need to shop around.

Many people instantly think that low calorie and sugar-free brands are going to taste like the cardboard tub they come in and lack the original flavour and texture of “real” ice cream.

The ice cream industry has come a long way in terms of their healthy offerings, and there really is a lot to choose from. A goal established by the Ice Cream Diet states look for ice cream or frozen yogurt that have around 125 calories in ½ cup.

My top 5 picks that could satisfy any ice cream lovers palate and give you an added calcium boost (all calories per ½ cup portion):

  • Breyers French Chocolate Fat-Free Ice Cream- 90 calories, 8% calcium
  • Healthy Choice Premium Low-Fat Vanilla Ice Cream- 100 calories, 6% calcium
  • Halo Top Mint Chip- 60 calories, 10% calcium
  • Halo Top Peanut Butter Cup- 80 calories, 10% calcium
  • Good Humor Fat-Free Fudgsicle Bar- 60 calories, 10% calcium

Are You Ready To Eat Ice Cream?

Ready To Eat Ice Cream

I know it may be a daunting task to think about a lifestyle change that encompasses a healthy eating pattern and physical activity but hopefully, The Ice Cream Diet can relieve some stress.

You can have your ice cream and still lose weight when staying within caloric parameters which eliminate the need to overindulge and continue unhealthy patterns.

Image Credits
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[5] McCord, Holly, Preventions the ice cream diet: the amazing plan that helps you lose weight, lower blood pressure, cut colon cancer risk, reduce PMS symptoms. New York, NY, St. Martins Paperbacks, 2002.

Rebecca McCullough, RD, LD, LDN, CDP

Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist with an extensive background in gerontology

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