The short answer is – yes, absolutely! There are many delicious fat free ice cream options on the market today. As an ice cream lover myself, I am thrilled we can enjoy the creamy textures and sweet flavors of ice cream without all the fat and calories of regular varieties.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll dig into all the important details about fat free ice creams – what they are, how they‘re made, nutrition perks, and most importantly, how you can get your hands on the tastiest treats. I‘ve done extensive research and personally sampled quite a few pints to provide you the inside scoop!
What Exactly is Fat Free Ice Cream?
Fat free ice cream has less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, compared to between 10-14 grams in regular ice cream. To put it in perspective, a 1/2 cup of regular vanilla ice cream has about 7g fat. The same portion of fat free vanilla would have 0g fat.
So how do they remove the fat but keep the creamy texture? Regular ice cream gets its rich, smooth mouthfeel from milk fat that comes from ingredients like cream, whole milk, and egg yolks. Fat free varieties replace that fat with substitutes like:
- Skim milk – the base of many fat free ice creams
- Milk proteins – whey and casein proteins provide creaminess without fat
- Thickeners – guar gum and carrageenan bind water for a richer mouthfeel
- Air incorporation – soft serve style ice creams whip in air for smoothness
This means you can happily indulge in fat free chocolate or cookie dough with the same luscious texture you love, just without the high calories and fat!
Key Benefits of Fat Free Ice Cream
Beyond just saving calories and fat, switching to fat free provides other advantages:
1. Cut Calories in Half
On average, fat free ice cream cuts calories by 50% compared to regular. A prime example is Breyers Fat Free Vanilla. 1/2 cup of their regular vanilla has 140 calories and 7g fat. The fat free vanilla has just 80 calories and 0g fat for the same serving size. Their Neapolitan variety saves you 90 calories per serving by going fat free! Across brands, the average calorie saving is about 100 calories per serving.
|Ice Cream Type
|Avg. Calories per 1/2 cup
|Regular ice cream
|Fat free ice cream
2. Avoid Unhealthy Fats
Fat free formulations are virtually free of saturated fat and trans fat – the "bad" fats that negatively impact cholesterol levels. Per American Heart Association guidelines, limiting saturated fat helps reduce risk of heart disease. Each 1/2 cup of regular ice cream contains around 5g saturated fat, while fat free varieties have 0g.
3. Higher Protein
Many fat free recipes incorporate milk proteins to enhance the creamy texture. An added bonus – this also boosts the protein content! For example, the popular Halo Top Vanilla Bean fat free ice cream has 5g of protein per serving, while regular varieties provide 2-3g. More protein helps you feel full and satisfied after enjoying a scoop.
4. Lactose-Free Options
Good news for lactose intolerant ice cream fans (like my partner!) – going fat free opens up more lactose-free options. Brands like So Delicious use alternate dairy bases like coconut or almond milk rather than skim milk, offering a tasty treat without lactose.
5. Better for Blood Sugar Control
High fat foods can spike blood sugar more aggressively. The low fat content in fat free ice cream helps buffer those spikes that can be problematic, especially for people with diabetes or insulin resistance. Fat free is a smarter choice for those concerned with glycemic response.
The Best Brands for Fat Free Ice Cream
Now that we know the benefits, let‘s cover some of the top brands making delicious fat free ice creams these days:
Breyers is one of the OG fat free ice cream makers. They‘ve been making popular flavors like vanilla, chocolate, Neapolitan, and cookies & cream with 0g fat since the 1980s. Their servings are conveniently portion controlled at 1/2 cup.
Halo Top revolutionized the light ice cream category by delivering indulgent flavors with shockingly low calories. Their pints have only 240-360 calories TOTAL thanks to stevia and erythritol as sugar substitutes. I‘m a huge fan of their birthday cake and lemon cake flavors!
These delicious Greek yogurt bars are a cafeteria staple for good reason – each bar is deliciously creamy with only 80 calories and 0g fat. The sea salt caramel and peanut butter chocolate chip flavors really satisfy my sweet tooth.
Enlightened makes pints and novelty bars using whey protein as their hero ingredient. Their chocolate peanut butter fat free bars are crazy – just 40 calories and 6g of protein! I always have a box of their fudge bars in my freezer.
Ciao Bella has impressed my Italian family with their authentic gelato flavors made with skim milk. Their blood orange sorbetto is refreshing, bright, and completely fat free at 140 calories per serving.
Best Recipes To Make Your Own
Homemade fat free ice cream lets you control the ingredients. I‘ve perfected some healthier recipes that don‘t compromise on flavor:
Two Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
My friend brought this genius recipe to a dinner party – freeze banana slices then blend into "ice cream". I‘ve started adding cocoa powder or peanut butter to fancy it up. So easy and dairy-free!
Mango Cheesecake Swirl
Blending Greek yogurt, cream cheese, and mango creates a tropical cheesecake flavor. I layer in a swirl of mango puree after churning for a pretty pink orange effect.
Strawberries & Cream
For an old fashioned vibe, I gently fold in diced strawberries into vanilla ice cream base after churning. Top with more sliced berries – the perfect summer treat.
Blueberry Pie Protein Ice Cream
Boost protein by blending cottage cheese, fat free milk, and whey powder. Add graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and blueberries for a healthy take on blueberry pie a la mode!
Healthy Hacks for Eating Fat Free Ice Cream
I‘ve discovered some handy ways to maximize nutrition and enjoyment when indulging in fat free ice cream:
- Stick to a 1/2 cup portion – I measure it out rather than grab the whole pint!
- Top with fruit instead of syrups, candies, or cookies to add nutrients and fiber
- Look for varieties sweetened with stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol rather than added sugar
- Combine with fresh fruit like raspberries and peaches to make each bite more filling
- Opt for fruit pops or fudge bars around 80 calories as a lighter, portion-controlled treat
- Seek out high protein options with at least 5g per serving to stay satiated longer
Well there you have it – everything you need to know to enjoy guilt-free fat free ice cream treats! Let me know if you try any of the recipes or have favorite store-bought picks I should add to my freezer stash. Thanks for letting me indulgently geek out about ice cream today!