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What to Look for When Buying Keto Ice Cream
The most important thing is the net carb count. There is no standard way to follow a keto diet, but typical plans require less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. You can find ice cream that contains fewer than 5 grams of net carbs per serving, and lower is always better if you’re on a keto plan.
There are lots of no-carb sweeteners out there, but they’re not all created equally. Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame K, may not add any carbs to an ice cream, but they can still raise other health issues, according to the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. They can also leave a funky aftertaste that makes the ice cream less than enjoyable. Look for keto ice creams that are sweetened with stevia, monk fruit, allulose, and/or erythritol. Many manufacturers use a blend of sweeteners to create the most sugar-like taste.
While the net carb count is important, it doesn’t always tell the whole story. Manufacturers are allowed to list 0 grams on a nutrition label if there are 0.5 grams or less of a specific ingredient. For example, if there’s sugar in the ice cream, but it only adds 0.4 grams per serving, it can technically be listed as 0 grams. This creates a problem when you eat more than the recommended serving size. Check the ingredient list rather than relying solely on the nutrition facts label. Avoid any ice cream that contains sugar or starchy fillers, like corn, oats, flour, rice, and/or wheat.
Some ice creams are marketed as low-carb or “light,” but it’s really because the serving size is so small. When you’re choosing a keto ice cream, make sure that you’re actually going to be able to stick to the recommended serving size (usually around 0.66-cup), otherwise, you’ll be way over your net carb goal.
What is keto ice cream?
Keto ice cream is ice cream that’s been sweetened with low- or no-calorie, low-carb sweeteners, like stevia, monk fruit, and sugar alcohols, such as erythritol and/or xylitol, rather than regular sugar. Like traditional ice cream, keto ice cream is made with a heavy cream base, but the omission of sugar drastically lowers the net carb count, so you can enjoy it without spikes in your blood sugar.
Is all sugar-free ice cream keto?
The term “sugar-free” is not synonymous with “keto.” Most ice creams that are marketed as “sugar-free” contain artificial sweeteners that aren’t the best choice for a keto diet. While the carb count may be low, artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, and certain sugar alcohols, like maltitol, can increase cravings and spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, throwing you out of ketosis. Sugar-free ice creams may also contain high-carb fillers and thickeners, like rice or potato starch, that make the net carb count way too high for a keto diet.
Often, sugar-free ice creams are also made with lower-calorie bases, like skim milk, and don’t have a high enough fat content to qualify as a keto-friendly treat. As a general rule, don’t rely on the package’s marketing to make decisions about whether or not the ice cream is suitable for your diet. Always read the ingredient list and nutrition facts label to make informed decisions.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist and keto diet expert who has written several keto cookbooks, including “Keto Snacks,” “The Keto for Two Cookbook,” and “200 under 20g Net Carbs.” She’s experienced the power of fat-adaptation firsthand and knows how important it is to stay on track, even when you want a sweet treat.