How is HALO top so low in calories?

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Is Halo Top Ice Cream Good For You?

The ice cream industry experienced a regime change on Monday when low-calorie, high-protein pints of Halo Top ice cream dethroned top-selling brands Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs to become the best-selling pint of ice cream in the U.S.

Since Halo Top launched in 2012, the company has experienced huge growth, with sales spiking 2,500% from 2015 to 2016 alone. Fans have flocked to the ice cream for its guilt-free health claims; entire pints range from just 240 to 360 calories per container (or 60 to 90 calories per half-cup serving). Compared to other popular brands, that’s a substantial calorie cut: a half-cup serving of Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream is 250 calories. Halo Top also boasts 20 grams of protein per pint.

But is the low-calorie ice cream healthy?

Halo Top Creamery CEO Justin Woolverton describes it that way. “Everybody has their own definition of healthy,” he says. “For us, foods that are as unprocessed as they can be. Halo Top is something where people can eat the whole pint, or a lot more than a quarter of a cup of ice cream. It can fit into their diet without breaking the calorie bank.”

Not everyone agrees. Unlike fruits and vegetables that are naturally full of nutrients, Halo Top is a processed dairy product with sugar and sweeteners. Even though Halo Top contains fewer calories than other pints, that doesn’t mean it’s helping your health, experts say — and don’t let the added nutrients, like protein and fiber, fool you.

“My two pet peeves are that it feels like is highlighting two things: ‘You can eat this entire pint for only a small amount of calories, and look at all this protein!’” says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York City. “No one should eat a whole point of ice cream. We should be sitting down to the recommended serving, which is half a cup. If you want to double it, fine, but you shouldn’t sit down to a pint.”

Nor should people prioritize getting protein from their dessert. “Protein is such a hot nutrient right now, and people are buying it without really knowing why,” says Gans. “Most people eat ice cream after eating dinner, and most do not need extra protein.”

Humans need protein to repair cells and encourage healthy growth and development. But getting enough protein isn’t an issue for most Americans; federal data shows that American adults consume around 15% of their daily calories from protein. There are also plenty of sources of protein, from chicken to quinoa, that are more nutritious than ice cream.

MORE: Artificial Sweeteners Are Linked to Weight Gain—Not Weight Loss

To keep calories low, Halo Top uses the zero-calorie sweetener Stevia. For added sweetness, it also uses organic cane sugar — which is still sugar — and erythritol, which is a type of sugar alcohol. While many sugar alcohols are thought to be linked to gastrointestinal problems, Gans says erythritol is typically less potent than others. Halo Top also uses prebiotic fiber, which Woolverton says is a natural type of fiber derived from plants like chicory root, to give the ice cream more texture and body.

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Some nutrition experts are skeptical about low-calorie or artificial sweeteners. A recent report analyzed 37 studies on zero-calorie sweeteners and found that despite have few or zero calories, they don’t actually help people lose weight — and instead may contribute to weight gain. It’s unclear why, but scientists speculate that regularly eating or drinking sugar substitutes may also cause people to crave sweeter foods more often, or people may believe that because they haven’t consumed calories, they can splurge elsewhere. Some early evidence also suggests that sweeteners might interfere with the body’s mechanisms for metabolizing sugar.

There’s also a big difference in the weight of the actual ice cream. A pint of vanilla Halo Top weighs 256 grams, while a pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla weighs 428 grams. As Food & Wine Magazine points out, Halo Top is lighter in part because it contains less sugar and fat — the stuff that makes ice cream sweet and thick.

Overall, Gans says she doesn’t see any problems with what’s in the ice cream. “As far as the ingredients go, there’s nothing there that I would question as a red flag,” she says.

But be skeptical of packaging and marketing that gives any ice cream a health halo. Labeling on the front of a package has been shown to make buyers view the food more favorably, regardless of the food’s actual health value.

Even with high protein and low calories, Halo Top is still ice cream — something to remember before you devour an entire pint.

With reporting by Mahita Gajanan

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Is Halo Top Ice Cream Healthy? What to Know if You’re on a Diet

What Ingredients Are Used to Make Halo Top Ice Cream?

Skim the ingredients list and, as with regular ice cream, you’ll find milk, cream, and eggs. Halo Top’s sweetness comes courtesy of zero-calorie organic stevia, organic cane sugar, and the sugar alcohol erythritol. You’ll also find prebiotic fiber, and milk protein concentrate for an extra punch of protein.

Mass applauds the company for choosing quality ingredients. “When you check out the ingredients, they are going organic when they can, and they are choosing stevia over other sweeteners,” she says.

RELATED: The Best and Worst Sweeteners for Weight Loss

But not everyone’s on board. Cindy H. Carroll, RD, RN, the founder of Nutrition to Fit You in Bedford, Massachusetts, calls out erythritol and prebiotic fiber as two not-so-great ingredients that can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal tract, particularly if you have stomach troubles.

The Most Nutritious Halo Top Flavors

Halo Top currently offers 31 flavors, including classics like Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla Bean as well as more out-there options like Mochi Green Tea, Candy Bar, and Pancakes & Waffles. The company also recently released dairy-free options — great for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant — and many of the flavors are also gluten-free.

Mass suggests sticking with flavors that have 240 calories per pint, such as Vanilla Bean, Lemon Cake, Mint Chip, and Pistachio. Not only are they low in calories, but “they are simpler and contain shorter ingredients lists than the higher-calorie counterparts,” she says. “The 360-calorie pints are still fewer calories than traditional ice cream, but you’re adding 120 calories per pint, which is an extra two servings of the lower-calorie options, and additional ingredients.”

Here are Halo Top’s flavors with fewer than 300 calories per pint:

  • Vanilla Bean – 240 calories
  • Lemon Cake – 240 calories
  • Rainbow Swirl – 240 calories
  • Pistachio – 240 calories
  • Mint Chip – 240 calories
  • Chocolate – 280 calories
  • Oatmeal Cookie – 280 calories
  • Chocolate Covered Banana – 280 calories
  • Caramel Macchiato – 280 calories
  • Dairy-Free Chocolate – 280 calories
  • Black Cherry – 280 calories
  • Pancakes & Waffles –280 calories
  • Strawberry – 280 calories
  • Birthday Cake – 280 calories

RELATED: 14 Diet and Weight Loss Mistakes — and How to Avoid Them

Halo Top Versus Regular Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt

The serving size for Halo Top and regular ice cream is the same: ½ cup. But while a serving of Halo Top will have 60 to 90 calories, regular ice cream and frozen yogurt is usually in the 200- to 330-calorie range.

“You are also looking at a large differential in sugars, because Halo Top uses sugar substitutes and regular sugar as sweeteners as opposed to just sugar alone,” Mass says. Halo Top usually has about 5 grams (g) of sugar per serving, while regular ice cream can have as much as 22 g.

Halo Top’s protein comes from milk, eggs, and milk protein concentrate. But the protein count of around 5 g per ½ cup is on par with what you’d expect to find in regular ice cream. The other big difference is weight: Halo Top is noticeably lighter than other ice creams — Time notes that a pint of Halo Top weighs 256 g versus 428 g for Ben & Jerry’s.

Nutritionists Weigh In On Whether Halo Top Is Good for Your Diet

There’s no denying that Halo Top is low in calories, which is helpful if you’re trying to shift the numbers on the scale. “Weight loss is not entirely a calorie game, but it is an important part of it,” Mass says.

She’d recommend Halo Top to certain clients looking to lose weight, mainly those who have a sweet tooth and those who tend to snack all night long. “Some dietitians might argue it’s better to consume the 70 calories from some fresh berries and a few nuts,” Mass says. “I agree, but let’s be real. Sometimes that just doesn’t cut it, and when it comes to long-term maintenance, we need to consider the mind as well.”

RELATED: The Best and Worst Snacks to Eat Before Bed

The question is whether you’ll feel satisfied after eating ½ cup of Halo Top, which is important, because Mass says not feeling deprived is key to weight loss and long-term weight control. “If you can sit down and enjoy a half-cup of Halo Top and feel satisfied, then you are cutting out significant calories and sugar” compared with eating regular ice cream, Mass says.

But if you view the low-calorie ice cream as a pass to indulge, it could work against you. “From a behavior standpoint, it’s not great to ,” Carroll says. Mass agrees and says you may create bad habits that lead to bingeing on other foods.

What it comes down to is this: Just because Halo Top is low in calories doesn’t mean it’s okay to overdo it. If you’re sticking to ½ cup per serving, Halo Top is a better option calorie-wise than regular ice cream, so long as it doesn’t upset your stomach. But if eating a “guilt-free” product makes it hard for you to stop, you may end up taking in more calories than if you’d stuck with regular ice cream in the first place.

What Is Halo Top Ice Cream, and Is It Healthy?

Halo Top ice cream comes in more than two dozen traditional and whimsical flavors — like “Birthday Cake” and “Peanut Butter Cup” — all of which contain the same core ingredients.

The ingredient list for vanilla is: skim milk, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, cream, organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, natural flavors, sea salt, vanilla beans, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, and organic stevia leaf extract.

In vegan versions, the milk and eggs are swapped out for a base of coconut cream mixed with water, which is essentially reduced-fat coconut milk.

Here’s a closer look at some of Halo Top ice cream’s core ingredients.

Sugar substitutes

In addition to cane sugar, Halo Top contains two natural sugar substitutes — stevia leaf extract and erythritol.

Stevia leaf extract comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant and is calorie-free (1, 3).

Erythritol is virtually calorie-free in the amounts typically used. The source of this sweetener varies. In Halo Top ice cream, it’s made from yeast fermentation of corn starch (4, 5).

Due to its chemical structure, erythritol is classified as a sugar alcohol. In contrast to other sweeteners of this type, including sorbitol, it’s unlikely to cause nausea or diarrhea unless you eat more than 50 grams. One pint of Halo Top ice cream contains 20 grams (6).

Fiber and gums

Ice cream doesn’t naturally contain fiber. However, Halo Top adds prebiotic fiber, which may fuel the growth of good bacteria in your large intestine (7).

Two gums — carob and guar — are also used in the ice cream. They come from carob seeds and guar beans, both of which are legumes (8, 9).

These gums are soluble fibers, meaning they absorb liquid and form a gel. They are added to Halo Top to help replace fat and stabilize the product. This helps reduce ice crystal formation, resulting in a smoother texture (10, 11).

Nevertheless, Halo Top doesn’t have the same creamy texture as regular ice cream. Rather, it may feel somewhat dry in your mouth.

Protein concentrate

Some of the protein in dairy-based Halo Top products comes from skim milk and eggs. The rest comes from milk protein concentrate — milk that’s filtered to collect the proteins (12).

The protein in the nondairy, vegan versions is isolated from rice and peas. It amounts to only 3 grams per 1/2-cup (64-gram) serving, compared to 5 grams in the dairy varieties.

Other additives

Vegetable glycerin, natural flavors, and natural colors are also added to Halo Top products.

Glycerin, which is made from vegetable oil and helps retain moisture, improves the product’s texture and may provide subtle sweetness (13).

It’s uncertain what the natural flavors are, as they’re regarded as trade secrets. “Natural” simply means they’re derived from plants, animals, or the action of microbes (14).

The natural colors come from the juices of vegetables and fruits, as well as golden-colored turmeric and annatto, a red plant extract.

Summary In addition to skim milk or reduced-fat coconut milk for the base, Halo Top products contain cream, organic cane sugar, sugar substitutes, prebiotic fiber, gums, added proteins, and natural flavors and colors.

Why low-cal ice cream like Halo Top could be making you fat

When Gillie Houston first tried the trendy, low-cal ice cream Halo Top, the experience was “life-changing.”

An entire pint has as little as 240 calories — compared to about 1,000 in your average container of Ben & Jerry’s — and, some say, tastes as good as a non-diet dessert.

“I think there’s some kind of witchcraft or sorcery involved in the making of it,” says Houston, 24, a writer who lives in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and has a food-centric Instagram account, @gilliehouston, with more than 101,000 followers.

Thanks largely to buzz on social media, along with a rebranding and new recipe, Halo Top, which first launched 2012, has taken off in the past year. In 2016, more than 17 million pints, which go for $5.99 a piece, flew off the shelves of grocery stores around the country, and sales grew by 2,500 percent, according to the Los Angeles-based company.

The frozen treat, which comes in 17 flavors, including red velvet and chocolate almond crunch, is big in the Weight Watchers community, where a pint is just eight “smart points,” compared to 48 points for a pint of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.

Ardent fans like Houston hail it as a miracle food that allows them to keep SoulCycle trim while still indulging their sweet tooth, but detractors say it’s an over-hyped fad — remember Tasti D-Lite? — that’s no better for you than a regular scoop.

“It’s still ice cream,” says Natalie Rizzo, a registered dietitian based in Astoria. “At the end of the day, if you’re having instead of something more nutritious, you’re just going to be hungry again an hour later.”

Annie Wermiel

Halo Top is made from milk, eggs, cream and two sugar substitutes: stevia and erythritol. The latter is a zero-calorie sugar alcohol that’s been gaining a lot of attention, especially among diabetics, since it doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike. Most of the sugar isn’t metabolized by the body, resulting in next to zero calories.

Erythritol is a newcomer to the sugar substitute scene. The FDA deemed it “generally safe” for consumption in 2001, and it’s now used in foods like chewing gum and sugar-free candy. In some people, erythritol can cause diarrhea and headaches, especially when consumed in large quantities.

Though it doesn’t have quite the negative reputation of older, once-hyped, now-scorned diet ingredients such as fake fat olestra and sweetener aspartame, there hasn’t been research into its potential long-term effects on the body, Rizzo notes.

And preliminary studies aren’t promising: A recent study out of Cornell University found that people who gain weight have higher levels of erythritol in their blood — though the study did not determine if these levels were the result of food that the subjects ate.

Plus, such sugar substitutes often leave people unsatisfied and craving more sweets. You’re better off just having a small serving of your favorite full-calorie ice cream, Rizzo says. That way, you’re not giving into the kind of overindulgence that leads to weight gain.

Honestly, if you’re the type of person who can take a bite of ice cream and put it back, you’re a better person than I am.

But Halo Top CEO Justin Woolverton notes that moderation is challenging for many frozen-dessert lovers.

“Honestly, if you’re the type of person who can take a bite of ice cream and put it back, you’re a better person than I am,” says Woolverton, a 37-year-old former lawyer, who developed the recipe in his own kitchen because he wanted to be able to eat a whole container of ice cream without guilt. “Most people sure as hell aren’t eating only a quarter of a pint.”

For those trying their very best to drop the pounds, that pint in the freezer is one of the few good things they can cling to at the end of a long day of steamed vegetables and lean protein.

Allison Cooper, a writer from The Bronx, heard about Halo Top after she gave birth to her daughter in August. She’s doing everything she can to drop the baby weight, but ice cream is her weakness, she says. And while she knows Halo Top isn’t doing her diet any favors, she keeps moderation a priority, a strategy that has helped her get back into her pre-baby clothes.

“I make sure it takes me three nights to eat one pint,” says Cooper.

Others aren’t on board with the taste and texture.

“Everyone on Weight Watchers was acting like it was like manna from heaven,” says Marguerite Maria Rivas, a college professor and poet from Staten Island. “But it had this weird consistency, like buttercream frosting. I threw the rest away — which is really shocking for me.”

Ice cream fanatic Allison Cooper started eating Halo Top to lose baby weight.Courtesy of Allison Cooper

Ben Hon, a 42-year-old Brooklyn Heights resident who operates the food-focused Instagram account @StuffBenEats, says he wanted to like Halo Top. But he couldn’t get past the saccharine taste.

“I still find to be overly sweet,” says the real-estate agent. “The texture was a bit icy and left a strange aftertaste in my mouth. I was hoping it would be more smooth and creamy, like regular ice cream. But after two tastings of each flavor, I threw them all away in the garbage.”

Even die-hard Halo Top fans, such as Molly Lucas, a 24-year-old social media manager from Chelsea, admit it can’t compare to the original treat, like her first love, Haagen-Dazs.

“I have to say that if you’re craving ice cream, it gets the job done,” says Lucas, a fitness junkie who usually buys one or two pints at a time and admits they don’t last too long in her freezer. “It’s really hard to replicate the real thing, but Halo Top does an incredible job of giving you that ice-cream experience.”

But for health experts like Rizzo, this trend and the habits it encourages are far from angelic. “For people who are dieting and using this as a way to have ice cream for not a lot of calories, it really is too good to be true,” she says.

Erythritol 101

Erythritol is one of the sugars used in Halo Top to lower the calorie count. Here’s what you need to know about the sugar alcohol:

• It’s found naturally in fruit like grapes and watermelon but made commercially by fermenting starches with yeast.’

• It’s 70 percent as sweet as sugar but has zero calories.

• It can cause headaches and diarrhea, especially with excessive consumption, and a recent study links it to belly fat.

High Protein, Low Sugar Ice Cream: Halo Top

Who screams for ice cream? Luckily, with flexible dieting we can all scream for ice cream and not feel guilty about it.

BUT, ice cream doesn’t always fit my macros because it is often high in sugar and fat.

I was intrigued when Halo Top contacted me about their high protein, low sugar, low-fat ice cream because it’s often the fat and sugar that prevent ice cream from fitting my macros.

What was even more interesting is that all of their varieties of ice cream are between 240-280 calories a pint!

I could eat a whole pint of Halo Top for fewer calories than what’s in just 1/2 cup of Haagen Dazs!

However, then my common sense kicked in and I thought that it probably doesn’t taste very good. I had tried other lower calorie ice creams in the past and wasn’t too impressed.

But, I was still willing to give Halo Top a shot and the company was nice enough to send me a pint of six of their seven flavors to put to the test.

Halo Top Ice Cream Review

The first thing I noticed about Halo Top was how hard it freezes. At first I thought it was due to the dry ice packaging it arrived in, but once in my freezer overnight, this didn’t change.

I learned by reading the carton that Halo Top freezes harder than other ice creams because they don’t use many of the softening ingredients typically used in ice cream. This is typically a high milk fat content or stabilizers like xanthan gum, gellan gum, and carrageenan.

It actually reminded me of homemade ice cream, which I’ve always loved and freezes a little harder when placed in the freezer.

Here’s how their flavors stacked up

Lemon Cake

This one had such a vibrant lemon flavor and I loved it. They use lemon peel and lemon oil as the flavoring agents.

Total calories: 240 per pint or 60 per 1/2 cup serving

Macros per pint/per 1/2 cup serving:

  • Protein: 24 grams/6 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams/2 grams
  • Net Carbs: 18 grams/4.5 grams
  • Total carbs: 56 grams/14 grams
  • Fiber: 20 grams/5 grams

Strawberry

This Halo Top flavor had a really great strawberry flavor with real pieces of strawberry visible.

Total Calories: 280 per pint or 70 per serving

Macros per pint/per 1/2 cup serving:

  • Protein: 24 grams/6 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams/2 grams
  • Net Carbs: 27.2 grams/6.8 grams
  • Total Carbs 60 grams/ 15 grams
  • Fiber: 20 grams/5 grams

Vanilla Bean

I love vanilla ice cream for its simplicity and I love varieties that have real vanilla bean flecks mixed in. This flavor had just that and was delicious.

Total calories: 240 per pint or 60 per 1/2 cup serving

Macros per pint/per 1/2 cup serving:

  • Protein: 24 grams/6 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams/2 grams
  • Net Carbs: 18 grams/4.5 grams
  • Total Carbs: 56 grams/14 grams
  • Fiber: 20 grams/5 grams

Mint Chip

This flavor contains real dark chocolate mint chips in a naturally flavored mint base. It was a tad too much on the spearmint side for me, but it did have a great balance of chocolate and mint flavor.

Total calories: 240 per pint or 60 per 1/2 cup serving

Macros per pint/per 1/2 cup serving:

  • Protein: 24 grams/6 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams/2 grams
  • Net Carbs: 18 grams/4.5 grams
  • Total Carbs: 56 grams/ 14 grams
  • Fiber: 20 grams/5 grams

Chocolate Mocha Chip

This flavor was the only disappointment for me. I expected some hints of coffee based on the term “mocha“, but there wasn’t any coffee to be found. It basically tasted like chocolate ice cream.

Total calories: 280 per pint or 70 per 1/2 cup serving

Macros per pint/per 1/2 cup serving:

Chocolate

This flavor had a nice chocolate flavor but more on the milk chocolate side of the chocolate flavor spectrum.

Total calories: 240 per pint or 60 per 1/2 cup serving

Macros per pint/per 1/2 cup serving:

  • Protein: 24 grams/6 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams/2 grams
  • Net Carbs: 18 grams/4.5 grams
  • Total Carbs 56 grams/14 grams
  • Fiber: 20 grams/5 grams

How is Halo Top so low in sugar?

Halo Top uses just a little real sugar and then increases sweetness by using erythritol and stevia, which are both almost zero-calorie but natural sweeteners.

What really surprised me was that I could detect zero aftertaste which is usually typical for non-nutritive sweeteners. This is a win for me as I just won’t choose a low-calorie ice cream if it has a strange aftertaste.

A lot of fiber and protein!

Halo Top also enhances the nutrition of their ice cream by adding prebiotic fiber into every batch as well as boosts the protein content by adding concentrated milk protein.

Since both protein and fiber are important to a flexible dieter, this is a big win win for me as well!

In case you couldn’t tell, Halo Top is a great product and one that I’ll be buying long after my free samples are finished (they actually almost are).

Halo Top may not have the soft and really creamy texture of ice creams like Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs but what it does offer is the ability for me to sit down with a pint and enjoy a great ice cream treat over a 1/2 hour opposed to for more calories getting just a 1/2 cup of the other guys’ ice cream which is gone in seconds.

Give Halo Top a try, it’s available at Whole Foods and other “natural-type” grocers country-wide or online here.

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, a Certified Fitness Trainer, and is Healthy Eater’s author and nutitional coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see his personal macros coaching options. Last Updated: October 10, 2019

Halo Top is a so-called “healthy” low-calorie ice cream brand that has exponentially grown in popularity over the past year or so. Fans report that the ice cream is rich and delicious and has a better taste than some competitors such as Arctic Zero. But what do the Halo Top nutrition facts say about this insanely popular dessert?

Along with being low-calorie, low-sugar, and high-protein, Halo Top ice cream comes in a wide variety of flavors. There are even dairy-free options including flavors like birthday cake, chocolate chip cookie dough, and toasted coconut.

In this article, you’ll learn all about Halo Top nutrition and whether or not it’s a truly keto-friendly ice cream option. Before you indulge in this frozen treat, get the full scoop and decide for yourself.

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What Is Halo Top and How Is it Low in Calories?

Halo Top is a low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sugar ice cream.

The company, founded by Justin Woolverton, states the product started as a way to “enjoy ice cream as a regular part of our diets,” with just 280-360 calories per pint.

If you look at the ingredient list of most flavors, you’ll find it’s fairly natural with ingredients such as skim milk, eggs, cream, erythritol, organic cane sugar, milk protein concentrate, high-fat cocoa, vegetable glycerin, prebiotic fiber, sea salt, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, and organic stevia leaf extract.

Where’s the Sugar in Halo Top?

Organic stevia is the sweetener that Halo Top boasts about the most, along with erythritol. Erythritol is a natural sweetener found in fruits such as pears and grapes.

One pint of chocolate Halo Top has 280 total calories, including 10 grams of fat, 40 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of fiber, and 20 grams of protein. If you ate half a pint, you would take in 16 grams of net carbs — a much better alternative than traditional ice cream.

Why Stevia and Erythritol Are Keto-Friendly

Stevia and erythritol are two of the most commonly used sugar substitutes on keto. Both are sugar-free, low on the glycemic index, and low in carbohydrates.

In its pure form, stevia contains zero calories and also ranks zero on the glycemic index. It’s actually 200-300 times sweeter than regular sugar, which is why Halo Top still tastes sweet, like regular ice cream.

Unlike regular sugar, stevia will not spike your blood sugar, which is what you’re trying to avoid on keto. In fact, some studies show that stevia actually benefits blood sugar levels after a meal.

Erythritol also ranks zero on the glycemic index and contains roughly 0.24 calories per gram (still only 6% of the calories in sugar). Erythritol is classified as a sugar alcohol and can be found naturally in some fruits. Unlike other sugar alcohols, erythritol does not cause digestive stress.

Halo Top Nutrition: Best & Worst Low-Carb Flavors

The Halo Top nutrition facts among different flavors is remarkably similar. Most flavors contain 5 grams of carbs, 70–90 calories per serving size and 2-3 grams of fat. However, there are a few differences, which are noted below.

If you do not tolerate dairy well, many Halo Top flavors also come with a dairy-free option. You’ll find two separate lists below, for both dairy flavors and dairy-free flavors.

Best and Worst Halo Top Dairy Flavors, Ranked

The following flavors are ranked from best to worst, based on Halo Top nutrition and how well they fit into the keto diet. As it turns out, those with the highest carb count also contain gluten.

  • Pistachio: 70 calories, 5 grams of protein, 2.5 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Birthday Cake: 70 calories, 5 grams protein, 2.5 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Vanilla Bean: 70 calories, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Oatmeal Cookie: 70 calories, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 12 grams of net carbs
  • Lemon Cake: 70 calories, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Black Cherry: 70 calories, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Strawberry: 70 calories, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Mint Chip: 80 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Peanut Butter Cup: 80 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Chocolate: 80 calories, 5 grams protein, 2.5 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Sea Salt Caramel: 80 calories, 5 grams protein, 2.5 grams fat, 13 grams of net carbs
  • Red Velvet*: 90 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 13 grams of net carbs
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough*: 90 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 14 grams of net carbs

If noted with an asterisk (*), the flavor is not gluten-free.

Best and Worst Halo Top Dairy-Free Flavors, Ranked

The following dairy-free flavors are ranked from best to worst, based on how well they fit into the keto diet.

  • Peanut Butter Cup: 80 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 10 grams of net carbs
  • Chocolate: 70 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 10 grams of net carbs
  • Birthday Cake: 70 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 10 grams of net carbs
  • Vanilla Maple: 70 calories, 3 grams protein, 2.5 grams fat, 10 grams of net carbs
  • Toasted Coconut: 80 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Oatmeal Cookie: 70 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 11 grams of net carbs
  • Candy Bar: 90 calories, 3 grams protein, 4.5 grams fat, 12 grams of net carbs
  • Chocolate Hazelnut: 80 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 12 grams of net carbs
  • Caramel Macchiato: 80 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 12 grams of net carbs
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough*: 90 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 14 grams of net carbs

Does Halo Top Fit Into a Low-Carb or Ketogenic Diet?

Halo Top may be one of the better options for ice cream out there today, but you may be wondering if it fits into your low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle.

If You Can Limit Yourself to One Serving, Go For It

One serving of this low-sugar, low-calorie ice cream is about half-cup. A serving of the Halo Top chocolate flavor would come with only 10 grams of net carbs. Compared to other ice creams (and desserts in general) this carb count is ideal and hard to beat.

The reason Halo Top has become so popular is because it suddenly gave consumers the freedom to eat the whole pint without guilt.

If you’re following a keto diet though, a whole pint (40 grams of total carbohydrates) will probably be more than your carb allotment for the day. The good news is you may be able to get away with half a pint as a treat.

If You’re Following the Targeted Keto Diet or Cyclical Keto Diet, Enjoy

When it comes to the keto diet, there is a time and a place for carbs. On a standard ketogenic diet, the daily recommended intake for carbs is anywhere from 20 to 50 grams in order to stay in ketosis.

However, this isn’t the only type of keto diet out there. Here are two approaches to keto where it’s appropriate to have a higher carb intake:

  1. The Targeted Keto Diet (TKD): For active individuals who need a bit more carbs to get them through their workouts, TKD is a great option. The TKD allows an extra 20-50 grams up to an hour before and after the targeted window of exercise.
  2. The Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD): The CKD follows a standard keto diet approach for five days, followed by two days of carb loading. The CKD is meant for extremely active individuals who need more carbs to fully replace their glycogen stores and operate at full intensity during high-intensity training sessions.

The Bottom Line About Halo Top Nutrition

Now that you have a better grasp on the details of Halo Top nutrition, you can consider enjoying this frozen treat as a low-carb alternative to regular ice cream. However, unlike other consumers, you won’t be able to indulge in an entire pint without getting kicked out of ketosis.

Halo Top’s carb count is still relatively low, similar to other keto dessert recipes.

The best way to consume Halo Top is by sticking to 1 or 2 servings maximum (a fourth to half a pint). Like most treats, try to eat clean and keep your carb count low before indulging.

Because it uses two keto-friendly sweeteners — stevia and erythritol — and offers an entire line of dairy-free options for those who don’t tolerate dairy, Halo Top can be consumed on keto. As long as it’s done in moderation, of course.

If you’re looking for more guilt-free ice cream ideas to soothe your cravings, have a look at these recipes:

  • Easy No-Churn Keto Ice Cream
  • Low-Carb Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Mint Keto Ice Cream

If you haven’t heard of Halo Top ice cream, you’ve either been living under a rock or are in top physical condition and couldn’t care less about the calories in your ice cream. Congrats, you’ve officially made it in life.

For those of us who still struggle to enjoy a balanced diet (i.e. we don’t know how to eat dessert “in moderation”), Halo Top coming into our lives felt as monumental as when the cavemen first discovered fire. Suddenly, all our problems were answered. Well, some of them were.

In a nutshell, Halo Top is a healthier ice cream brand that prides itself on super low-calorie pints that actually taste amazing. Having eaten a few too many spoonfuls of the stuff myself, I can confirm that this ice cream is well worth the hype.

Although the calories in your food shouldn’t be your main focus when eating, it’s definitely good to keep the nutrition information of a dessert in mind when chowing down. Halo Top is arguably the best of the best, with the majority of its pints clocking in at just 240 calories. Yep, that’s 240 calories per pint in total.

If you’re feeling the lower-calorie count, go for Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, Lemon Cake, Mint Chip, or Pistachio. At just 240 calories more per pint, you can feed your sweet tooth Black Cherry, Almond Chocolate Crunch, Oatmeal Cookie, Sea Salt Caramel, Birthday Cake, Chocolate Mocha Chip, or Strawberry. I personally think the Sea Salt Caramel is the best of this bunch, but I’ve yet to try a flavor that disappoints.

Halo Top also has a few pints that are about 300 calories, which seems like a lot compared to their other flavors. But in all honesty, that’s still a ridiculously healthy dessert (assuming you even care to down the whole pint in one sitting). The higher-calorie flavors include Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, S’mores, Peanut Butter cup, Cookies & Cream, and Red Velvet.

If you’re like me, your first instinct is to wrinkle your nose at Halo Top’s low-calorie pints. After all, something so low in calories can’t possibly use “the good stuff,” right? Wrong. The first three ingredients in every pint are milk, cream, and eggs. Better known as, “the good stuff.”

While eating a whole pint of anything in one sitting isn’t healthy, you can get away with downing a carton of Halo Top if you’re having a particularly rough day. It’s low in calories, high in flavor, and is real ice cream. Still unsure whether it’s worth the hype? Go buy a pint for yourself, you won’t regret it.

The High-Protein Ice Cream That’s 1/2 The Price of Halo Top

It’s no secret that Halo Top’s high-protein pints are all the rage thanks to the irresistible flavors at shockingly low-calorie counts. But if your ice cream addiction has you spooning through at least two pints a week, stocking up on the low-cal dessert will get pretty expensive, pretty fast.

Luckily, Aldi recently released three new pints that are guilt-free on both your waistline and your wallet. The low-cal and low-sugar Sundae Shoppe pints are—get this—about half the price of Halo Top, ringing in at just $2.99 a pop. They come in three classic flavors including Mint Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Bean, and Chocolate.

How do Halo Top and Aldi Ice Cream Compare?

All Aldi ice cream flavors are free of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and colors, and pack in 60–70 calories and just four to five grams of sugar per half-cup serving. The entire chocolate pint boasts 24 grams of muscle-building protein while both mint chip and vanilla pack in 20 grams of protein per pint.

To put things into perspective, Halo Top’s Mint Chip and Vanilla Bean flavors contain 40 calories more per pint than Aldi’s respective flavors while boasting the same amount of protein. Sundae Shoppe’s low-cal chocolate has 40 fewer calories than Halo Top’s pint and a respectable four more grams of protein. Ingredient-wise, Halo Top and Sundae Shoppe pints are pretty similar. Halo Top’s Vanilla Bean pint is made with skim milk, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, cream, organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, natural flavor, sea salt, vanilla beans, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia leaf extract. Check out Aldi’s vanilla version below:

Courtesy of Imgur

Taste-wise, folks can’t seem to tell the difference (or think it’s worth a try, at the very least)!

“So I’ve never had the plain vanilla bean flavor from Halo Top, so I can’t do a direct comparison, but the texture of this is good…very much like regular ice cream,” Reddit user inner-nette says. “It’s sweet and creamy. There’s vanilla bean ‘pieces’ in the ice cream, but I don’t get much of a rich vanilla flavor. It’s good but very plain. I’d love to see whoever makes these products tackle some of the more creative flavors that Halo Top offers.” Reddit user dbrianmorgan proclaims, “The mint chip was indistinguishable from the Halo Top for me.”

We recommend getting your hands on these before they’re gone because Aldi’s seasonal pints are here just for the summer. For more healthy picks to stock your freezer with year-round, don’t miss our roundup of best and worst diet ice creams!

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

Get the New Book!

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

Halo Top Completely Conquered Freezer Shelves. Are Scoop Shops Next?

At the Halo Top Scoop Shop on the second floor of the Westfield Century City, an upscale mall in central-west Los Angeles, you can have your ice cream served almost any way you want: as a hard-packed scoop or a swirl of soft serve. You can eat your cream from a cup, a cone, or a puffle, which is an eggy style of waffle imported from Hong Kong; if that’s not enticing enough, you can order an ice cream sundae, an ice cream sandwich or — because this is California — an ice cream taco. You can have these treats topped with everything from sour gummy worms to rainbow sprinkles to mochi, which the scoop shop encourages heartily. “Go heavy-handed on the toppings,” its website reads. “With Halo Top, you’ve got calories to spare!”

This is because Halo Top isn’t regular ice cream: It’s a low-calorie, low-sugar, high-protein version, which the brand has been selling by the pint in grocery-store freezers since 2012. Those pints are 280 calories total, and they pack 20 grams of protein. For comparison, a pint of Breyer’s vanilla is about 520 calories, and that’s double the protein in a Clif bar. Halo Top is a high-volume, low-impact treat, and its packaging boasts a message that’s proved to be catnip to a diet-fatigued populace, hungry for something they can indulge in with abandon: “Stop When You Hit the Bottom.”

And then buy another pint. In the last six years, Halo Top has become the best-selling pint of ice cream in America. In 2016, the company sold some 13.5 million of those pints, earning $66 million in revenue; in 2017, the take was closer to $100 million. It’s ubiquitous, available in Walmart (where, upon its debut, Halo Top’s seven flavors became the seven most popular ice creams the chain sold) but also in pricey natural grocery stores like LA’s Erewhon, which was one of the brand’s first wholesale customers.

So now that it’s conquered the freezer game, the company is dipping a toe into the waters of retail, looking at the ways a brick-and-mortar presence can expand its customer base and inspire deeper loyalty among devotees. The brand has opened two scoop shops so far, the one in Culver City as well as an outlet in Topanga, an LA neighborhood best known for its Kardashian adjacency. (When Kylie Jenner did her first pop-up for Kylie Cosmetics, she chose the Westfield Topanga for her debut.)

And soon, a pop-up is coming to New York’s Supermoon Bakehouse, in a test of the NYC market: Starting today, the Lower East Side location will serve Halo Top’s summer flavor, peaches and cream, as soft serve, swirled into a Supermoon Cruffin. (That’s a croissant-muffin hybrid, duh.) According to Doug Bouton, president and chief operating officer of Halo Top, “New York is on our short list of cities, and we hope to bring a more permanent version of the concept there” after the Supermoon pop-up closes. “New York is near the top of the list as we look to where else could we take this, and why.”

“Why” is the question for the brand that reported a 2,500 percent increase in sales between 2016 and 2017: Why bother with the brick-and-mortar shops? “We’ve got this great wholesale business where people go buy a pint at the grocery store, but they don’t have any tangible experience with the brand other than that,” Bouton says. “So we thought this would be a really cool way to add a social experience, where you can go with your friends, your family.”

That vibe — casual, fun, social, young, now — is important to Halo Top. One of the reasons for the brand’s runaway success is how particularly suited it is to wellness culture: Instead of calling itself “diet,” conjuring restriction and flavorlessness, Halo Top brands itself as healthy, using words familiar to other products that bask in the glow of the artisan food movement. In press materials, it’s described as “all-natural” and “crafted with only the finest ingredients,” while founder/Halo Top CEO Justin Woolverton defined “healthy,” in an article in Time, vaguely as “foods that are as unprocessed as they can be.” Its cheerful, aspirational aesthetic is more akin to Westfield neighbors like Pressed Juicery and Equinox than old-school weight-loss brands like Jenny Craig or Slim-Fast.

“There’s a level of punishment attached to ,” Bouton says. “Whereas with Halo Top, it’s kind of like a fun, Willy Wonka–type vibe.” Adding to that perception is a narrative that borrows heavily from the world of tech: Industry outsiders disrupting a staid market through risk and ingenuity. “Halo Top is one of the most disruptive stories I’ve seen in my 10 years in the industry,” food and beverage investor Wayne Wu told Inc. in February. (Mirroring the story arc of other disrupters, the story’s headline proclaimed Halo Top the “most hated-on new ice cream brand in America.”) In Bloomberg, Woolverton has spoken of his approach to recipe-testing as “hacking”; elsewhere, the brand has been lauded for its unorthodox marketing strategies.

The branding isn’t exactly Wonka-wacky, but it certainly — especially on Halo Top’s social media accounts — does read fun. Flavors include salted caramel, birthday cake, and s’mores, as well as red velvet and cinnamon roll. The standard Halo Top carton is pastel accented with gold: It’s a look that could sit comfortably next to a glass of rosé in an Instagram post, one aspect that Bloomberg credits for its success.

Similarly, the scoop shops are designed to be shared on social media (which is a smart move, given the mania for ice cream Instagrams demonstrated by the Museum of Ice Cream’s sellout runs). There’s a wall of copper spoons in Century City, as well as a neon yellow sign that reads GUILT-FREE ZONE, features that Bouton calls “Instagrammable moments.” But no two scoop shops are alike, so “It’s not if you’ve been to one scoop shop, you’ve been to every scoop shop,” says Bouton. “We want it to be like, If you’ve been to one, you need to go see all the others, because they’re all different.”

The shops aren’t just a different way to buy the same ice cream; they’re a whole new experience. In addition to the variety of cones and ice cream sandwich options, soft serve is on the menu, as are toppings. The brand is also hoping that the array, trendy and eye-catching in its own right, with those puffles and cruffins, can help attract a new customer. “It’s a whole different kind of use occasion,” Bouton says. “It’s a little more impulse, like, ‘Hey, I’m walking through the mall and I could use a midday snack.’ And instead of a cup of yogurt, for the same calories and nutrition, you can also have a scoop of ice cream.”

Bouton would love to expand the scoop shop empire indefinitely. “If I could open up a thousand of these locations, I would,” he says, “but we have limited time and resources.” Halo Top came to its two Westfield locations by happenstance. “Commercial real estate is a blood sport,” Bouton says, though he does think it worked out for the best: “ in upscale areas with other brands that we like, on an indirect level, co-branding with,” he says. “You’re going to be in the same location as Lululemon or Equinox or Eataly, that kind of stuff.”

In other words, its neighbors put an aspirational gloss on the product just by association, suggesting that Halo Top is not a diet food but an enjoyable component of a healthy lifestyle. There’s also the price to consider: While a pint of Halo Top can be had for $4 or so at Walmart, a cone of soft serve with one topping will run you almost $7 in a scoop shop, so it makes sense to place it in spots where the average consumer won’t balk at the price.

The scoop shops are absolutely an experiment for the brand. Bouton isn’t scared of that; for him, Halo Top’s whole thing is experimenting. “Candidly, we created the space, so to speak: the category,” Bouton says of the healthy ice cream niche that Halo Top inhabits. “We always try to do something different. We don’t want to do it the way it’s been done before.”

So if scoop shops don’t prove to be profitable in the long run, Halo Top isn’t married to the idea. They are, after all, “not a retail business at heart,” as Bouton acknowledges. “We’re a wholesale business.” And when that wholesale is pulling in $100 million plus per year, why not see if a storefront or two can help build the business?

“The retail business is a marketing and branding play that supports the wholesale business in terms of loyalty,” Bouton says. “You talk about all of the competition in our category, it’s, how do we make sure our customers remain loyal to our brand?”

Ultimately, “these could be really profitable shops and businesses in their own right. We could be a Jeni’s, or a Salt & Straw or a Pinkberry, Yogurtland.” But for now, Halo Top is just keeping an eye on things. “We’re not committed to a hundred shops,” Bouton says. “We’re opening up a few of these, and we’re continuing to analyze in terms of cash flow, profitability. If they go as well as we hope they will, then yeah, there might be a hundred of these things. If it’s more of a marketing expense, maybe we adjust strategy. We just have to wait and see.”

Zan Romanoff is an LA-based writer whose work has appeared online and in print; she’s also the author of two novels and her third, LOOK, is forthcoming from Dial Books. Wonho Frank Lee is a Los Angeles photographer.
Editor: Erin DeJesus

Is Halo Top Ice Cream Actually Healthy?

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I can confirm that Halo Top ice cream does indeed taste amazing.

After hearing hype for months about this low-calorie, high-protein “healthy” ice cream, I finally caved and bought a pint of their Black Cherry. I devoured it in minutes and was amazed at how much it tasted like traditional ice cream. If I went to a scoop shoppe and someone served me a bowl of Halo Top, I wouldn’t think twice. I would think it was some pretty great ice cream.

But there’s a common saying in the nutrition world—if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Just because a product’s low in calories doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. Heck, zero-calorie diet soda has its own set of issues. So, is Halo Top ice cream actually healthy? Here’s your answer.

Getting The Facts Straight

Photo via Halo Top’s official Facebook page

Before we dive into the ingredients in Halo Top, let’s discuss its nutrition facts.

In short, they’re spectacular—at least compared to the nutrition facts for traditional ice cream. Halo Top is currently available in 17 flavors. Each flavor falls in the range of 240-360 calories per pint. Let’s focus on the chocolate variety, since it’s fairly simple.

One pint of chocolate Halo Top ice cream contains:

280 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 160 mg of cholesterol, 440 mg of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, 20 grams of protein, 40% DV calcium, 16% DV iron.

Now, let’s compare that to one the most popular traditional ice cream brands in the world—Häagen-Dazs. The nutrition facts for one pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs ice cream:

1,040 calories, 68 grams of fat, 40 grams of saturated fat, 360 mg of cholesterol, 180 mg of sodium, 88 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, 76 grams of sugar, 20 grams of protein, 32% DV calcium, 32% DV iron.

There’s really no contest—Halo Top blows traditional ice cream out of the water in almost every important nutritional category (especially for those concerned with weight management). The calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar totals for Halo Top are a fraction of what’s inside traditional ice cream. Halo Top does this while being just as high in fiber and protein as the traditional brands (if not more so). It’s still ice cream, so it can’t replace veggies, fruit, whole grains, etc. in your diet. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a delicious dessert with more impressive nutrition facts than Halo Top.

RELATED: Are Acai Bowls Actually Healthy?

The next question is how the heck do they do it?

Ingenious Ingredients

One reason Halo Top is able to keep their calorie count and sugar totals so low is because, unlike traditional ice cream manufacturers, they actually use a trio of sweeteners in their product.

The most prominent is erythritol, an all-natural sugar alcohol that looks and tastes like sugar yet contains just 0.24 calories per gram. The second most prominent is organic cane sugar—which is basically a fancy way of saying plain ol’ sugar. Sugar contains 4 calories per gram. A pint of Halo Top contains 20 grams of sugar, so 80 of those calories can be directly attributed to its sugar content. The third sweetener is stevia, a plant native to Paraguay that’s long been used as a low-calorie natural sweetener. It contains no calories and is roughly 250 to 300 times the sweetness of sugar.

RELATED: You Should Eat The Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

Let’s crunch the cumulative calorie numbers for these sweeteners:

  • Stevia contains no calories.
  • The 20 grams of organic cane sugar contribute 80 calories.
  • The 20 grams of erythritol (it’s listed under “sugar alcohols” on the nutrition facts panel) contribute about 5 calories.

So Halo Top is able to sweeten their ice cream on a level that tastes similar to traditional ice cream but do so while adding just 85 calories per pint. This is a far cry from the calorie totals traditional ice cream makers rack up with their sweeteners.

Let’s go back to that pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs. Häagen-Dazs uses just five ingredients in their chocolate recipe (compared to the 12-13 ingredients used in Halo Top), and only one of them is a sweetener. That sweetener is sugar. A pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs contains 76 grams of sugar. Since a gram of sugar contains 4 calories, that’s a total of 304 calories per pint. Obviously, 304 calories is a lot more than 85.

But the sweeteners alone cannot fully explain why Halo Top’s calorie count is so dramatically lower. That’s because there’s another major factor at play—weight. Halo Top’s ice cream is significantly lighter than Häagen-Dazs, even though you may not necessarily notice that fact when you eat it.

A pint of chocolate Halo Top contains a total of 256 grams of ice cream. A pint of Häagen-Dazs? 408 grams. By weight, that’s about 37 percent less ice cream. If you removed all the extra grams of ice cream you get in a pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs versus a pint of chocolate Halo Top, that would bring the calorie count of the Häagen-Dazs down to about 655 calories. If Häagen-Dazs used the same blend of sweeteners as Halo Top instead of just plain sugar, it would bring the calorie count down further to 436 calories per pint. Suddenly, the 280 calories in that pint of Halo Top doesn’t seem so unbelievable. It’s not that Häagen-Dazs ice cream is super heavy, either—for example, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream (the company doesn’t make plain chocolate) contains 428 grams of ice cream.

The remaining caloric difference can likely be attributed to additional differences in ingredients. Here’s the full list of ingredients for a pint of chocolate Halo Top:

Milk and cream, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, high fat cocoa, vegetable glycerin, sea salt, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia.

Here’s the full list of ingredients for a pint of chocolate Häagen-Daazs:

Cream, skim milk, sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, egg yolks.

There’s certainly enough variation between those ingredients to find the extra 150 calories or so that Halo Top managed to shave off. Perhaps they use less milk, cream or eggs in their recipe, which might explain why they turned to other ingredients to achieve the desired texture. Glycerine is a common thickening agent in low-fat foods, and the same goes for guar gum and carob gum. The inclusion of milk protein concentrate could also have been done to make up for the missing protein that comes with having less cream, milk or eggs.

The Verdict

Photo via Halo Top’s official Facebook page

So, is Halo Top actually healthy?

In terms of ice cream, yes. I wouldn’t go as far to say that it’s healthy in general, but downing a pint of Halo Top is a smarter choice than downing a pint of traditional ice cream. However, you have to understand that you’re likely getting less ice cream (in terms of weight) in that pint of Halo Top than you are in a pint of traditional ice cream.

Halo Top uses several low-calorie sweeteners and a fine-tuned recipe to mimic the taste and feel of traditional ice cream while keeping key nutrition facts (calories, saturated fat, sugar, etc.) much lower. Justin Woolverton, Halo Top’s founder, revealed in an interview with LAist.com that the process of creating the company’s recipes took considerable trial and error.

“There was a ton of experimentation at that point in scaling up the recipe—which ingredients worked and didn’t work, how to replace the sugar in the ice cream (which not only sweetens, but provides body and texture), et cetera. Honestly that period alone took months,” Woolverton said. “It certainly was (always) intended to be a health food in the sense that I made it in order to have an ice cream that didn’t have a ton of sugar and some protein for satiety.” Halo Top also uses many high-quality organic ingredients in their recipes, which might help explain why their ice cream tastes so much better than other low-cal offerings. It’s also great that you can eat an entire pint of Halo Top without feeling super guilty, since ice cream is one of those foods with wildly unrealistic serving sizes.

The sweeteners and thickeners used in Halo Top to mimic the taste and texture of traditional ice cream are all fairly safe. The biggest concern seems to be indigestion issues, but if your stomach can handle them okay, there’s not much reason to worry. If you prefer Halo Top to traditional ice cream, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep eating it. Just make sure to approach it like a dessert or an occasional treat—not a staple of your diet.

Photo Credit: Tatomm/iStock/Thinkstock

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As advertised, Red Velvet Halo Top is high-protein (20 grams per pint) and its calorie and sugar content pales in comparison to its counterpart. Ben & Jerry’s has 1040 calories and 92 grams of sugar per pint, while Halo Top has 360 calories and 28 grams of sugar per pint.

Halo Top looks much better to the calorie counters among us, and it also seems promising from a macronutrient perspective. So what kind of dairy sorcery is going on here?

Ingredients

The ingredient list gives us a better sense of nutrition quality than the label alone.

Halo Top ingredients (Red Velvet):

Milk and cream, eggs, erythritol, milk protein concentrate, brownie dough (flour , sugar, butter, cocoa , soybean oil, white rice flour, vanilla extract, organic soy lecithin, salt), organic cane sugar, prebiotic fiber, high fat cocoa, vegetable glycerin, sea salt, natural flavors, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia.

Ben & Jerry’s ingredients (Red Velvet Cake):

Both contain real dairy, some real sugar, naturally-derived flavors, and a number of additives that presumably stabilize texture, consistency, and flavor.

Essentially, Halo Top swaps out high-fat, high-calorie ingredients for more processed ones that look better on a nutritional label. Milk protein concentrate, for example, is a dairy byproduct that is factory-made in a number of ways. It’s a popular addition to protein powders and bars, cheese products, and other boxed foods.

Erythritol and stevia are Halo Top’s alternatives to sugar, corn syrup, and other caloric sweeteners.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some foods, but as a food additive, it needs to be produced industrially from genetically modified corn. The good news? It doesn’t cause tooth decay or a spike in blood sugar, and it is not usually associated with gastrointestinal distress. The bad news? Its long-term effects are not well-known. Considering that a 2014 study confirmed its function as an insecticide, it’s important to understand it may have some nasty side effects we don’t know about yet.

Stevia, a plant-derived sweetener, is quite similar. It doesn’t have the harsh counterindications of aspartame or Olestra, but its safety has been disputed by the FDA and its long-term effects are not well understood.

You may be relieved that none of these ingredients come with a huge red flag. However, it brings to mind a quote:

“Real food doesn’t HAVE ingredients. Real food IS ingredients.” – Jamie Oliver

Halo Top replaces whole ingredients with processed ones. Yes, this helps make its nutrition facts more favorable, but there’s more to eating and nourishment than numbers alone.

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