Why Skinny Ice Cream May Not Be As Good For You As You Think

Unless you've made the decision to consciously uncouple from the ice cream section at your grocery, you would have noted the appearance of several "skinny" ice cream brands hanging out next to our friends Ben & Jerry's, Blue Bell, and Breyers, many of which audaciously promise lower fat, lower sugar, and lower calories. If you were looking for an added bonus, some skinny ice cream brands will even have more protein than others.  

There are those of us that would embrace these skinny pints because they can potentially hold fewer calories than a scoop of our old favorites, but there are also nutritionists that say we may be sacrificing quality for quantity, and that we're better off having that indulgent scoop instead of a pint of the skinny stuff — simply because of what companies have had to add to skinny ice cream to make them more appealing. 

To start with, there is the problem of mouthfeel. Taking out fat means making leaving ice cream less creamy. And as a result, manufacturers need to make skinny ice creams with additives that you might not be too keen about getting close to, including thickeners like maltodextrin, corn fiber, xanthan gum, and guar gum. So if you're not comfortable with this idea of trading fat for a list of additives, you may want to give skinny ice cream a pass (via The Globe and Mail). 

Artificial sweeteners in skinny ice cream may make you gain weight

In order to keep these calorie frozen treats a joy to eat, manufacturers also need to swap out the sugar for artificial sweeteners that could trigger a host of problems. Eating Well warns that sugar alcohols used in skinny ice creams — like stevia or erythritol — have been known to cause digestive problems if they are taken in large amounts. 

And when eaten over an extended period of time, they could also trigger weight gain. "Artificial sweeteners affect our sense of satiety," registered dietitian Isabel Smith tells Eat This, Not That! "Our bodies have evolutionarily developed to expect a large amount of calories when we take in something exceedingly sweet, and those artificial sweeteners are from 400 times to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar. It causes a couple of things to happen: The muscles in your stomach relax so you can take in food, and hormones are released. With artificial sweeteners, your body says, 'Wait a minute, you told me you were going to give me all this high-calorie food.' It can actually send some people searching for more food, out of lack of satisfaction." 

Like everything, eating ice cream is about enjoying something you love in moderation. A pint of skinny ice cream every now and then probably wouldn't harm you, but there is something to be said about enjoying a smaller serving of the real deal.