Shape editors tested the best low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar ice creams so you know which to spend your $$$ on.
Arctic Zero Light Ice Cream
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Even if you weren't a fan of Arctic Zero's original lactose-free ice cream alternative (like this Shape editor, who swore off all healthy ice cream), you need to give their new light ice creams a shot. Made from real milk, cream, and cane sugar, these pints contain no sugar alcohols, are non-GMO, and have a boost of prebiotic fiber. (BTW, here's what you need to know about sugar alcohols.)
You can grab pints in seven flavors, including Cookie and Brown Dough, Toffee Crunch, Mint and Chocolate Cookies, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies, Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Chunk, and Vanilla Bean.
Pros: Shape testers found the new formula to be "surprisingly good" and said it didn't taste like artificial sweeteners or flavors.
Cons: One tester said she liked the dough chunks in the Cookie and Brown Dough way better than the actual ice cream (#chunklife), and another said it wasn't quite creamy enough for her taste.
Photo: Arctic Zero
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If you've been on Instagram anytime in the last year, you've likely seen Halo Top on your feed. This social-sensation brand uses organic stevia and erythritol (a sugar alcohol that's not supposed to affect blood glucose or cause bloating) to create sweet, creamy desserts that clock in at only 280 to 360 calories per pint. Their latest release—seven dairy-free flavors in addition to the 25(!!) regular pint flavors they offer—allow vegans and lactose-intolerant ice cream fans to get in on the hype too. Visit one of their new brick-and-mortar scoop shops to try out flavors before you buy, like, 20 of them.
Pros: If you want a relatively clean label and to throw portion control to the wind, this is the brand for you. Plus, with a zillion flavor options, you're bound to find one that hits the spot.
Cons: One Shape tester said that the Sea Salt Caramel flavor was a little overly sweet, while another said it wasn't quite creamy enough to satisfy her ice cream craving.
($5; find a retailer near you.)
Photo: Halo Top
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This legendary ice cream brand (they've been around since 1866!) prides itself on offering something for every type of ice cream eater—including people looking for a healthy treat. Breyers new Delights line of light ice cream offers 260 to 330 calories and 20 grams of protein per pint, thanks to added milk protein and stevia. (BTW, here's what you need to know about the latest artificial sweeteners.)
Pros: Several Shape testers loved the Vanilla Cupcake flavor (tastes just like the real thing!), and appreciated the added sprinkles inside—including the fact that they're made with natural colors.
Cons: One tester said the delights flavors were a little too sweet, and others noted that it had an interesting (read: not great) aftertaste and mouthfeel.
($5; find a retailer near you.)
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You're probably thinking: "Gelato?! That def isn't healthy." But this fan-favorite grocery store gelato brand has a relatively new batch of low-cal, low-sugar flavors that mean you can make Talenti an every-night thing instead of just an occasional treat. Sweetened with erythritol, sugar, and monk fruit juice concentrate, their three "crafted with less sugar" flavors log about 120 calories per half-cup serving, with 9 to 10g of sugar (versus the regular Talenti's 23 to 32g). But don't worry, Talenti didn't sacrifice taste for a better nutrition label.
Pros: Shape testers said the Mint Cookie Crunch and Vanilla Cinnamon flavors tasted just like their regular gelatos. (Wondering what the difference is between ice cream types, anyway? Here's the full guide to healthy ice cream varieties.)
Cons: While lighter than Talenti's regular gelato, you can't exactly go ham on a whole pint (about 480 calories) like you might be able to do with some other brands.
($5-6 per pint; find a retailer near you.)
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Enlightened crowns itself the best-of-the-best in healthy ice cream, logging even fewer calories, fewer grams of sugar and fat, and more protein and fiber than other healthy ice cream brands. Their inventive flavors range from French Toast and Glazed Donut to Cold Brew Coffee and Bananas Foster, and log in at just 60 to 100 calories per half-cup serving. Sweetened with zero-calorie erythritol and packed with fiber from corn, Enlightened promises not to spike blood sugar. (Bonus: They now offer ice cream bars, too.)
Pros: Shape testers were super into Enlightened's creative Movie Night flavor (it tastes like movie theater popcorn with chocolate and caramel!) and the generous cookie chunks in Cookies and Cream. Overall, testers said the flavors were amazingly creamy.
Cons: Testers reported a slight aftertaste, possibly from the erythritol sweetener.
($5; find a retailer near you.)
Ben & Jerry's Moo-Phoria Light Ice Cream
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If mix-ins are your favorite part of digging into a pint, Ben & Jerry's is probably your go-to brand—and they even preserved that v. important part of their ice cream in their three new Moo-Phoria light ice cream flavors. Their Chocolate Milk & Cookies, Caramel Cookie Fix, and PB Dough all promise to be "light on calories and fat, heavy on the flavor, chunks & swirls," all without any sugar alcohols or any other type of sugar substitutes.
The result: a treat with 60 to 70 percent less fat and 35 percent fewer calories than traditional Ben & Jerry's ice creams, but allllll the hidden-treasure goodness of Phish Food and Half Baked.
Pros: Most Shape testers ranked these as their fave healthy ice cream for its just-like-the-real-thing taste. One tester wrote: "This really tastes like regular ice cream. HOW?!"
Cons: For whatever reason, testers noted that the ice cream melts quickly (so eat up!).
($5-7 per pint; store.benjerry.com)
Photo: Ben & Jerry's
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Sweet Habit is dedicated to letting you enjoy ice cream every single day of your life—because, "some habits don't need breaking!" Their high-protein, high-fiber, low-fat ice creams are all under 80 calories per half-cup serving. Made with milk protein, erythritol, and fiber from corn (similar to Enlightened), this is a solid choice for a lighter frozen treat that you can enjoy on the reg. (Also see: Why You Should Give Up Restrictive Dieting Once and for All)
Pros: One tester ranked this as her favorite of them all, thanks to the generous dose of mix-ins and "no aftertaste, which is rare with healthy ice creams."
Cons: With only four flavors—Mint My Cookies, Cinnamon Bunned, What the Caramel, and PB Fudge—you don't get quite the same selection as some of the other flavors (here's hoping there are more to come!), and if you don't dig the taste of erythritol, you're out of luck.
($6; find a retailer near you.)
Photo: Sweet Habit
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Chilly Cow is the first ice cream brand to use ultra-filtered milk to produce a high-protein, low-sugar ice cream. What's ultra-filtered milk, you ask? It's milk that's run through a super-fine filter to remove some sugar and water from the milk, which concentrates the remaining protein. They offer their seven flavors in half-pints or (for some flavors) in bars, which means you can nom a whole container without accidentally eating too many serving sizes. (A half-pint of Chilly Cow is technically two servings, each serving logging in at 200 calories or less.)
Pros: Testers noted that Chilly Cow indeed passes for real ice cream, and they enjoyed the caramel flavor in the Graham Swirl tub.
Cons: If you're not a fan of the taste of either stevia or erythritol, you may want to steer clear.
($6; find a retailer near you)
Photo: Chilly Cow