July 17 marks National Ice Cream Day, but I choose to celebrate eating ice cream all the time. In fact, one of my favorite things about summer is that there is always an excuse to eat ice cream (and to try to recreate iconic pop culture references).
The downside? Summer is also the time of year when I am constantly trying to look good at the pool or beach, which usually does not mix well when frequently eating at one of New York’s famous ice cream parlors.
However, there is a new ice cream brand called Halo Top that claims to be super healthy and even taste like the real thing. The brand has seven flavors, with a typical pint containing just 240 to 280 calories total. To put that in perspective, a whole pint of Halo Top’s vanilla bean flavor is about the same number of calories as one suggested serving of Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s vanilla. Halo Top also has more protein, and less fat and carbohydrates.
I took calorie counting a step further and did some quick math: Five pints of Halo Top is up to 1,400 calories. And I had this idea; If many people lose weight on a daily diet of 1,500 calories or less, why not try eating only Halo Top for three days to try to shed some pounds? I’d make it more fun by enlisting some friends at the office to join in.
I know what you’re thinking: This sounds like a terrible idea. I needed to get a professional opinion and reached out to Keri Glassman, a nutritionist and founder of The Nutrition School, to tell us exactly what we would be eating.
“I have to say that [Halo Top] actually has fairly good quality ingredients, if you’re going to go for a light version [of ice cream],” Keri said. “But if it satisfies you like the real thing, it should be eaten that same way: as a true indulgence.”
And aside from emphasizing the importance of portion control, she was very opposed to only eating ice cream for three days straight.
“Even though some people might lose weight, because it could be a lot less calories than they’re consuming normally, it’s not a good idea,” Keri said. “It’s not sustainable, it’s not healthy, and the person might even probably feel sick after.”
But despite her warning, I and my co-workers Alex, Mia, Kelli decided to try “the ice cream diet.” The rules were simple: no other food, no alcohol, only Halo Top. We also set up time every day to film “confessionals” in one of Yahoo’s studios to speak candidly about how we were feeling throughout the process. Our plan sounded foolproof. Because who doesn’t want to eat ice cream for every meal, right?
I am proud to report that I was the only person on the ice cream diet that did not cheat. But even though Alex, Kelli and Mia snuck some food in along the way, we all lost weight on the diet: As a group, we lost a collective eight pounds!
But despite our rapid weight loss, as you may have guessed eating ice cream all day is probably not the best idea. And we quickly learned to appreciate that not all calories are created equal.
“When you have the same amount of calories-let’s say, from something like avocado that has healthy fat and fiber-it’s going to fill you up and keep you more satisfied, so you’re less likely to over consume later on,” said Keri. “Those calories affect your hormones in a better way than, let’s just say, the sugar calories. So hormonally and the way it affects you, and even just in terms of your cravings, the types of calories you consume affect you dramatically.”
So what are some healthy ways to lose weight?
“Three tried-and-true ways I tell people to lose weight all the time are to absolutely get rid of all added sugar,” said Keri. “Ditch all packaged processed foods as much as possible. You’ll be getting rid of a whole lot of chemicals and, most likely also, a lot of calories. And make sure you focus on whole, real foods. Specifically, lots of vegetables, lots of healthy fat, and lean protein.”
And what were the best flavors, in our opinion? Strawberry and birthday cake. We all agreed that we would eat Halo Top again…but we also needed to take a serious ice cream detox. And as Alex pointed out, that might be the best side effect of the diet after all.