Ice Cream Alternatives
Let’s talk about one of life’s greatest joys: ice cream.
I love ice cream. I mean, doesn’t everybody? The thing is, ice cream doesn’t always love me back. A big bowl of ice cream usually means I’ll get a killer sugar-induced headache and my stomach will be destroyed by the combination of dairy and high saturated fat. So, if I have ice cream, I’m left with two options: stick to a tiny, kiddie-sized serving or brace myself for future regret.
However, light ice creams claim to offer me a third option: enjoy a big bowl of ice cream with no regrets, because it’s not really ice cream. But do low calorie ice cream alternatives actually taste good? Are they really worth it?
In the name of science, I selflessly sampled a variety of different low calories ice creams. Some were so bad they’re not even worth mentioning, so let’s focus on my favorites: Arctic Zero, Halo Top, and Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt.
Arctic Zero Review
When you see the nutritional facts for Arctic Zero, you think “there’s no way this can taste like ice cream.” Well, you’re right. Arctic Zero tastes more like a frozen protein shake than ice cream. However, that doesn’t mean it tastes bad. It actually tastes pretty good. If you’re just looking for something cold and sweet on a hot day, it will hit the spot. But if you have a crazy craving for Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, you will be extremely disappointed. Although Arctic Zero is lactose-free and low enough sugar that I can down a whole pint with NO REGRETS… and that my friends, is an important feat.
Favorite Flavor: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – “chunky” styles like this flavor have a few more calories than the original flavors, but you get cookie dough chunks! I’m a little bit obsessed with this flavor.
Least Favorite Flavor: Cookie Shake. I was anticipating some type of cookies and cream flavor based on the label, but it just tasted like it couldn’t decide if it was vanilla or chocolate.
Halo Top Review
I have to say, Halo Top tastes like real ice cream. It is good, like as good as a normal ice cream. Without a doubt, it tastes better than Arctic Zero. Plus, their containers definitely win for best design.
However, it does have some drawbacks. First of all, the reason is tastes so good is probably because it contains real cream. So, if dairy is not your friend, Halo Top won’t be either. Halo Top also uses erythritol, a sugar alcohol. Supposedly erythritol does not have the same digestive side effects as other sugar alcohols, but my body begs to differ. And lastly, Halo Top can be really, really hard to find. My local grocery store didn’t start carrying it until about a month ago, and it was perpetually sold out for the first few weeks.
Favorite Flavor: It’s a toss up between birthday cake and strawberry. I highly recommend mixing a scoop of both.
Least Favorite Flavor: Chocolate. It just tasted like a fudgsicle to me. Meh.
Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt
I don’t feel like you see people talking about Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt very often, but it’s really good. So good, I rather eat it than most regular ice cream brands. Flavor-wise it puts Halo Top & Arctic Zero to shame. However, that’s because it’s not that different from regular ice cream. It is dairy-based and contains about the same amount of sugar. However, it is lower fat, lower calorie, and higher protein. Plus, it’s made from lactose-reduced milk, so it’s at least a little easier on your stomach if you’re dairy-challenged. All in all, a slight nutritional improvement to ice cream without sacrificing any flavor.
Favorite Flavor: Salted caramel… but cookies and cream is a close second.
Least Favorite Flavor: Honestly, I haven’t tried one I didn’t like. I haven’t tried the mint chocolate though, because I know I don’t like mint chocolate anything. So, I guess we’ll say mint chocolate.
Arctic Zero vs Halo Top vs Oikos
So how does Arctic Zero compare to Halo Top? And does Oikos even stand a chance against the other low calorie ice creams?
Let’s look first as the nutritional data for a 1/2 cup serving for each brand (using plain vanilla for consistency’s sake). I threw in Blue Bell as well, so you get a sense of how they all compare to regular ice cream:
One thing you might notice is that one serving for each ice cream has a different weight since they’re all different consistencies. So, let’s also look at a comparison of the nutritional facts for the same serving size in grams for each brand…150 grams, because let’s be real, who only eats a half cup serving anyways?
As you can see, Arctic Zero’s nutritional profile is crazy. It’s like eating a sweetened protein shake with some fiber thrown in. Halo Top has a bit more fat but it also has a hefty amount of protein and fiber in each serving. Oikos has a lot of sugar… not much different than normal ice cream on that front. It does, however, have significantly less saturated fat and a little extra protein.
But of course, macronutrients aren’t the only thing that matters. How do they taste? What type of ingredients do they use? Are they ridiculously overpriced? Below is a final, overall comparison of all of the brands.
And the winner is…
Well, it depends on you and what you’re looking for. I’d use the chart above as guide and you can determine what factors are the most important to you. If you want to down a whole pint and not worry about food sensitivities, I’d recommend Arctic Zero. Are you just sensitive to sugar and want something that tastes just like real ice cream? Try Halo Top. If you just want a lower calorie and lower lactose version of your favorite ice cream, I think Oikos would be a good match.
And if you want a bowl of your favorite ice cream, just go eat a bowl of normal ice cream! It’s okay to eat things you enjoy.