How healthy is a diet with ice cream? It might be shocking that it’s allowed on the Military Diet. In fact, either ½ or 1 cup of vanilla ice cream is included on Day 1, 2, and 3. Many of us have the idea that all ice cream is unhealthy but is this true? As with many other diet misconceptions, it depends. For example, there are many factors like calories in vanilla ice cream. The Military Diet slashes calories during the first three days and it’s only 1,100 for Day 3. So, it might seem crazy that ice cream makes up almost 20% of the day’s caloric intake.
Then there’s the ice cream itself. It might seem like an unhealthy option for a diet that includes just 1100 to 1400 calories on the days’ ice cream is on the menu. What’s it all about? It’s important to take a closer look. For example, there’s a difference between ice cream made from natural ingredients including vanilla beans, and the fake “soft serve” stuff that’s closer to candy than the real deal. This is one of the biggest issues not only related to calories but also the ice cream’s general nutritional value.
Another big question is: how much is allowed?
The Military Diet’s Ice Cream
First, let’s take a look at the Military Diet itself. This is a semi-restrictive diet and especially during the first three days of any given week. The menu is set for Day 1, 2, and 3. This adds up to 1,400 calories on Day 1, 1,200 calories on Day 2, and 1,100 calories on Day 3.
What about the other four days of the week? You have more leeway during those days but you should make sure to keep your caloric intake low during Days 4 to 7. It’s recommended that you keep calories under 1,500 during the rest of the week. This allows you to eat roughly the same number of calories as Day 1. A big difference is whether or not snacks are included.
Days 1-3 are like the diet’s “boot camp.” After you get through it the diet is easier to follow but you’ll still need the discipline to keep calories low.
OK, let’s get to the good stuff—the ice cream. It’s your dinner dessert for Days 1, 2, and 3. You get 1 cup on Day 1 and Day 3, but just ½ cup on Day 2.
It’s also worth noting Day 3 is the lowest number of calories at 1,100. So, you might expect the 1/2 cup of ice cream to be offered on this day. It’s not! In fact, you get 2x the amount on Day 3 as Day 2.
Another interesting thing is the amount of fruit that’s coupled with the ice cream. On Day 1 your dessert also includes an apple and ½ banana. On Day 2 you get ½ banana. Then on Day 3, it’s just vanilla ice cream minus any fruit.
Finally, there’s an X-factor. During Days 1 to 3, no snacks are allowed but they are from Days 4 to 7. So, in a sense, you’ve also “earned” your just desserts by cutting calories during the whole day and avoiding snack attacks.
Calories in Vanilla Ice Cream
This is one of the biggest issues in the Military Diet since you only consume 1,100 to 1,400 calories during Days 1 to 3. The number of calories in vanilla ice cream will vary. That depends on various factors like how natural it is and the ingredients’ quality.
However, let’s go with some ballpark estimates. One cup of vanilla ice cream has about 207 calories. So, you’ll be consuming about that number for Day 1 and 3, and about 103 during Day 2 of this diet program.
Let’s take a look at the ice cream calories you’ll be consuming vs. total calories for the three days. It’s about 15% on Day 1, plummets to 8.5% on Day 2, then spikes to about 19% on Day 3. The highest percentage is interesting on Day 3.
It’s also important to consider how natural the ice cream is. Natural/organic ice cream is actually quite healthy. The real stuff is made of cream/milk, sugar, and sometimes eggs. In this case, you’ll be eating vanilla ice cream so it’s important to pick products with real vanilla beans.
When you eat ice cream it’s the added ingredients that inflate the calories. This is especially true in the case of soft-serve ice cream since it’s far from the real stuff.
For example, when you eat flavored ice cream it usually includes additives like sugar and artificial colors. This turns into extra calories and in the case of sugar more fat.
The situation is similar to eating plain or flavored yogurt. The latter often includes added sugar and other additives that basically offset the health benefits of the dairy product.
When possible try to find organic ice cream. This is the healthiest because it goes beyond natural ingredients. It means there were no artificial products like fertilizers or pesticides used to produce the ice cream’s ingredients.
Is Ice Cream Healthy?
This is a “big picture” question to take up since the Military Diet includes it. Assuming you pick natural/organic versions these are the ingredients it will include:
Dairy products include lots of nutrients. They include Vitamin D, calcium, protein, and amino acids. In fact, milk and cream contain all nine essential amino acids. These are the ones you have to get from food/supplements since the body doesn’t produce it.
Then there’s the question of dairy’s fat content. There’s 11g of fat in one cup of vanilla ice cream. It’s recommended that fat make up 20% to 35% of your total calories for the day. The first three days of the Military Diet are super-low so it’s not a problem.
Another issue is there’s “good” and “bad” fat. You’ll want to minimize how much saturated and trans-fat you get. Milk is loaded with a healthy fat. This is actually a reason you should consider ice cream made with full-fat milk since low-fat milk often includes fillers like salt.
OK, this is easily the unhealthiest ingredient of most commercial ice cream. It’s a catch-22. Raw sugar is healthier than refined sugar but it’s too coarse to get the smooth texture of ice cream.
How about sugar substitutes? The problem with artificial sweeteners is they contain ingredients that don’t exist in the natural world. Scientists also don’t know all the long-term effects of consuming them.
One of the best options is to make the ice cream yourself. Here are some natural sugar substitutes:
- Maple syrup (natural)
These are high in protein and healthy fat/cholesterol.
It’s important to pick real vanilla beans since they can offer several health benefits. They can include heart health, clear skin, less anxiety, and even weight loss. This is a plus like the Military Diet’s calories in vanilla ice cream.