Can you have sugar free ice cream on the keto diet?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can have sugar free ice cream on the keto diet as long as it fits within your daily carb intake. Most sugar free ice creams still contain some carbs from ingredients like maltitol or milk, so you’ll need to account for those. Aim to stay under 50 grams of total carbs per day on keto. Moderation is key.

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet, often referred to as “keto,” is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It was originally developed in the 1920s to treat epilepsy in children (1). However, it has become popular for weight loss and diabetes management.

On keto, you drastically cut back on carbs and replace them with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy (2, 3). It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy to the brain (4).

Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with ketones’ effects on the brain, makes keto an effective tool for managing type 2 diabetes (5, 6).

Here is a breakdown of the typical keto diet:

Macronutrient Percentage of Calories
Fat 60-75%
Protein 20-35%
Carbs 5-10%

To induce and maintain ketosis, people on a keto diet must keep their carb intake very low, generally under 50 grams per day. However, some active individuals can eat over 50 grams of carbs and stay in ketosis (7).

The most common keto foods include:

– Meat, poultry and fish
– Eggs
– Nuts and seeds
– High fat dairy like butter, cheese and heavy cream
– Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli and asparagus
– Avocados and oils like olive oil, coconut oil and MCT oil

People on keto avoid all grains, legumes, root vegetables, fruit (except for berries) and added sugars.

A keto diet should be based on real, whole foods and be high in healthy fats. Packaged “keto-friendly” snacks and substitutes often contain unhealthy ingredients and additives.

Can You Have Sugar Free Ice Cream on Keto?

The simple answer is yes, you can have sugar free or low carb ice cream while following a keto diet.

However, not all sugar free ice creams are created equal when it comes to net carbs. You’ll need to read nutrition labels carefully and account for the carb count.

Most sugar free ice creams are sweetened with sugar alcohols like erythritol, maltitol and xylitol. These provide sweetness with few or no carbs:

Sugar Alcohol Calories per Gram Glycemic Index
Erythritol 0.2 1
Xylitol 2.4 7
Maltitol 2.1 35

As you can see, erythritol has very little impact on blood sugar and contains almost no calories. Xylitol is also a good option.

Maltitol has more carbs and can raise blood sugar, so it’s not ideal for keto. Still, a serving may fit into your daily carb limit.

Some keto ice creams also contain soluble corn or tapioca fiber. This provides texture with minimal carbs that don’t impact blood sugar.

Note that sugar free ice cream also provides some carbs from dairy and other ingredients.

For example, Halo Top dairy free ice cream contains 5-8 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup serving. So you could potentially fit it into a keto diet if it aligns with your macros.

Always check the nutrition labels and ingredients for sugar alcohols, fiber and net carbs when choosing a keto ice cream. Prioritize options lowest in net carbs and sweetened only with erythritol or xylitol.

Keto Ice Cream Brands

Here are some recommended low carb or keto-friendly ice cream brands:

– Rebel – Uses erythritol and monk fruit to keep net carbs between 0-8g per serving
– Halo Top – As low as 5g net carbs per serving, depending on the flavor
– Enlightened – Erythritol sweetened with 3-7g net carbs per serving
– Nick’s – Erythritol and stevia sweetened, 5g net carbs per serving
– High Key – Sweetened with stevia and erythritol, 2-5g net carbs
– Killer Creamery – Erythritol sweetened with 0-4g net carbs per serving
– Chilly Cow – Contains sugar alcohols with 2-5g net carbs

Avoid any brands that use maltitol as the main sweetener, like Russell Stover or Breyer’s. The higher carbs and blood sugar impact make them less keto-friendly.

Potential Benefits of Sugar Free Ice Cream on Keto

Adding sugar free ice cream to your keto diet can provide some potential benefits:

– Satisfies cravings for sweets, which makes sticking to keto easier. Ice cream is one of the foods that people miss most when starting a keto diet (8). Having a healthier substitute helps with compliance.

– Provides extra calories and fat. Some people struggle to get adequate calories and meet their fat quota on keto (9). The high fat content in sugar free ice cream makes it a decent source of fuel that fits the macros.

– Cooling effect. Ice cream literally cools you off. This may provide comfort in hot weather and help regulate body temperature (10).

– Convenience. Sugar free ice cream is portable and easy to incorporate into recipes or enjoy as a snack.

– Variety. With options like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cookie dough, it adds flavor and variety so you don’t get burned out on the same keto foods.

Sugar free ice cream is no health food. But it can be an occasional treat that provides satisfaction when eaten in moderation and carefully accounted for. This may promote long term compliance with keto.

Potential Drawbacks of Sugar Free Ice Cream on Keto

Although sugar free ice cream can fit into keto macros, there are some potential cons to be aware of:

– May cause GI distress. Sugar alcohols like erythritol, xylitol and maltitol can ferment in the gut and cause gas, bloating or diarrhea when eaten in excess (11). Start with a small serving to assess tolerance.

– Can trigger sweet cravings. Artificial sweeteners may activate cravings and hunger hormones in some people, causing intense desires for sugary foods (12). This could make keto adherence more difficult.

– Suboptimal nutrition. Ice cream is not a nutritious food. Prioritizing it may displace healthier fats and nutrient-dense foods in your diet.

– Easy to overeat. Ice cream is conveniently portioned and extremely tasty. This makes it easy to mindlessly overconsume, which may sabotage weight loss efforts.

– Contains additives. Most store-bought ice creams have additives like artificial flavors, colors, stabilizers and emulsifiers, even if they are labeled “natural.”

The key is moderation. Calculate your macros, purchase high quality products, control portions, and don’t let ice cream displace real, nutrient-dense foods in your keto diet.

Tips for Eating Sugar Free Ice Cream on Keto

Here are some tips to integrate sugar free ice cream into your keto diet successfully:

– Choose properly sweetened options with 0-5g net carbs per serving. Prioritize erythritol sweetened brands.

– Read the nutrition label and ingredient list carefully. Avoid maltitol-sweetened ice creams.

– Start with a small portion like 1/4-1/2 cup to assess tolerance. Increase slowly from there.

– Measure carefully with a measuring cup or food scale. Don’t eyeball servings.

– Account for macros and carbs. Decide when and how ice cream fits into your daily totals.

– Eat with plenty of healthy fat. Pair ice cream with foods like nuts, coconut or avocado to balance macros.

– Avoid eating right before bed. Ice cream may cause indigestion due to the sugar alcohols.

– Make your own at home too. This lets you control ingredients and macros perfectly.

– Don’t have every day. Consume in moderation as an occasional treat, not a daily habit.

Being mindful and tracking intake allows you to enjoy sugar free ice cream guilt-free! Just don’t let it become a free-for-all.

Keto Ice Cream Recipes

Whipping up keto ice cream at home lets you control carbs and ingredients. Here are some tasty recipes to try:

Two Ingredient Fudge Pops


– 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
– 85% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped


1. Freeze can of coconut milk overnight. Keep chocolate chopped and chilled in fridge.
2. Next day, scoop solid coconut cream into a blender with the chocolate. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour into popsicle molds and return to freezer until solid, at least 4 hours.
4. Enjoy fudgy chocolate pops with just 2 ingredients!

Makes 5-6 pops. Each has 7g net carbs. Sweetened only with chocolate.

Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl


– 1 1/2 cups full fat cream cheese
– 1/3 cup powdered erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
– 1 cup heavy whipping cream
– 1/4 cup raspberries
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– pinch of salt


1. Beat cream cheese and sweetener until smooth.
2. Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks then gently fold into cream cheese mixture.
3. Mix in raspberries, vanilla and salt until swirled throughout.
4. Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze 4+ hours until solid.
5. Serve topped with extra raspberries if desired.

Makes 4 servings. Each has 5g net carbs.

Mint Chocolate Chip


– 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
– 2 tbsp powdered erythritol
– 1/4 tsp stevia extract
– 1/4 tsp mint extract
– pinch of salt
– 1/2 cup Lily’s sugar free chocolate chips


1. Whip heavy cream until peaks form. Gently fold in sweeteners, mint extract and salt.
2. Add chocolate chips and fold to distribute evenly.
3. Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze 4+ hours.
4. Scoop and enjoy!

Makes 3 servings. Each has 6g net carbs.

The possibilities are endless when you make keto ice cream yourself. Play around with extracts, cocoa powder, nut butters and anything else that fits your macros!

Finding the Right Balance on Keto

When incorporating any treat into a keto diet, finding balance is key.

You want to satisfy cravings and get a reprieve from dietary monotony without derailing progress. Here are some signs you’ve gone overboard:

– Eating ice cream multiple times per day
– Choosing it over nutritious foods regularly
– Not tracking portions or carbs
– Relying on it to meet your fat macros
– Noticeable increase in cravings, hunger and desire for carbs

On the other hand, having a sensible serving 1-2 times per week is unlikely to impact ketosis or weight loss.

Ice cream and other substitutes may help some people stick to keto in the short term. But they shouldn’t replace a foundation of healthy low-carb, high-fat foods.

Focus on quality sources of fat like olive oil, avocados, coconut, nuts, seeds and animal fats. Get protein from eggs, meat, fish and dairy. Prioritize aboveground vegetables for nutrients and fiber.

This creates sustainable, balanced nutrition. Save the keto ice cream for when you really need a cold, sweet pick-me-up!

The Bottom Line

Sugar free and low carb ice cream can be part of a well-formulated keto diet. The key is choosing properly sweetened options that fit your macros. Read labels to calculate net carbs.

Potential benefits include satisfying sweet cravings, providing extra calories, cooling you down and adding convenience. Drawbacks can include GI issues, increased cravings and easy overeating.

Eat in moderation as an occasional treat alongside a solid foundation of nutritious keto foods. Avoid daily overconsumption. Making homemade ice cream lets you control carbs and ingredients.

Yes, you can have sugar free ice cream on keto. With mindful tracking and balanced nutrition, it can be an enjoyable part of your low-carb lifestyle.

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