Update on My Ice Cream Experiment

Last year I only had two servings of ice cream the entire year. I’ve more than made up for it this year. Around March I started eating ice cream on a weekly basis. As we moved from spring to summer, I kept increasing the amount of ice cream I was eating. Then in July I put out the post Why Ice Cream is Better Than Protein Powder, which makes the case that the limiting factor in muscle growth isn’t protein, but calories. And the calories from ice cream with its mix of carbs, saturated fat and cholesterol seemed to be the perfect food for the task.

Here is a breakdown of how my body responded at different ice cream levels.

  • No ice cream – Was experiencing rapid fat loss. Couldn’t gain muscle.
  • 1 pint per week – Still losing weight.
  • 2 pints per week – Weight stabilized.
  • 3 pints per week – Muscle gain and some fat gain. Some acne.
  • 4 pints per week – More fat gain and worse acne.

Since skin inflammation – be it a rash, rosacea or acne – is an external sign there might be an internal stressor, I’m thinking my sweet spot for ice cream might be 2 pints a week with an occasional week with 3 pints. The plan all along was to push the ice cream all summer long and then scale down in the winter.

My favorite ice cream is Salted Caramel from Molly Moon’s of Seattle. 

My experiment showed me that I don’t need to deprive myself of ice cream. The reason I can eat more ice cream than most and remain lean is that I don’t eat the cone. I avoid all gluten sources and even minimize exposure to all other grains with the exception of white rice. So when it comes time to have cake and ice cream, you can have my cake, because I’ll be doubling down on the ice cream. 🙂


Add yours

  1. Glenn Whitney

    Sep 6, 2012 — 12:23 pm

    A dangerous post MAS. I’m capable of eating 1-2 pints of ice cream per *day*. You have just given me license to try this out in the name of science 🙂

  2. Glenn Whitney

    Sep 6, 2012 — 12:39 pm

    Further to this – as much as I love, love, love ice cream, I can’t help thinking that organic high-fat yoghurt plus wild honey would have all of the same pro-nutrients and none of the anti-nutrients… What think you?

  3. @Glenn – I think high fat yogurt + honey would do the same thing. Maybe I will do more yogurt + fruit (or berries) in the winter. I’d love to hear your results.

  4. Ann Rosen Korman

    Sep 7, 2012 — 11:22 am

    Did you write this for me??
    ok… so much to discuss here. First, as with anything… you always have to go slowly. Jumping to 4 pints a day in such a fast period of time just doesn’t give your body time to adjust. That would be a shock for anyone. Since you were low(no) sugar for so long( as I was) your body needs time to get used to such a change. The ice cream will increase your metabolic rate- you know that. So if you jump up to 4 pints you are rapidly releasing things from your cells and your liver may just not know what to do. If you were my client I would have you monitoring yourself to see what was going on.Since this in not my blog-I won’t go there. Here are things to consider: digestion is key and being that you were low sugar and had some other things in your diet – I expect there is something going on there. You have to experiment with brands of ice cream. As I mentioned in my blog about dairy, I find that some people can even only tolerate one or two brands of milk( which is why I make my own ice cream). If you are going around testing all kinds of flavors(brands)… it just isn’t a good test. Also, if you are now adding in sugar there is something that you must know. You have to get all PUFA out of your diet. The PUFA will make it impossible for you cell to up take the sugar.. and that is NOT good. So you see… not so simple. There are so many things involved. My suggestion is to stick with one brand of ice cream ( that you feel works) Skin issues are all about digestion… if you have low blood sugar digestion is slow… so you have to get that working first. it is all tricky. I go slow with people esp people that were low carb.. you have to heal first… then just you wait..

  5. @Ann – I was eating 4 pints a week, not a day. Does that change your opinion?

    I consumed the cleanest ice cream brands I could find, but I did vary flavors. Only one ice cream that had whiskey as an ingredient caused me any noticeable issues (a headache). I suppose that I can start tracking ice cream brands.

    I stopped being low carb in June 2010. I’ve been moderate carb ever since. In the past 2 years, I’ve consumed lots of white rice and sweet potatoes. My sugar levels were lower last year. When I began this experiment, I slowly increased my sugar volume. Even when I was low-carb, I still spiked carbs at least once a week on my high activity day.

    As for PUFA, I removed all veggie oils from my diet in 2009. And I avoid any food item that lists veggie items as an ingredient. So my PUFA intake is probably 95% less than what it was 4 years ago.

    Heading out for ice cream!

  6. Ann Rosen Korman

    Sep 8, 2012 — 9:34 am

    HI MAS- Even if you thought that the ice cream was clean you would be surprised…
    Like I said, I find that people are very sensitive these days. Many of the people that I work with can only do 1 ( sometimes 2) brands of milk. I understood that it was 4 pints a week… still a big jump. I start people with Tablespoons per day. Ray Peat may eat that much ice cream -but, very few people that I work with could handle that much in just a few months. It takes 4 years to reduce PUFA( if you are lucky). PUFA is in almost everything. So when getting PUFA out of the body one has to really be diligent about all PUFA. Nut and seed oils are just the beginning. I will get you the information about all the worse sources of PUFA are. They are in everything -but there are ways to protect yourself from the PUFA – you are starting. Dairy and Fruit are low in PUFA which is ONE of the reasons that Peatarians eat a lot of it. Digestion is key and your body needs time to get used to new foods. Also, blood sugar is key to digestion. Skin issues ( IMO) are all gut related. If you want to do a good ice cream experiment. My suggestion is to find a milk source that agrees with you. Then make your own vanilla ice cream to start… and then build slowly.. go by the Tablespoon… you can’t jump by the pint. I think that you just overdid things too fast with out giving your body time to adjust. 4 pints work for some people… no one size fits all though. I would have to spend some time filling you in on how to monitor. I would say… if you don’t want to make your own ice cream. Stick to something like vanilla( HD, or Three Brothers, Straus.) or go to a place that makes their own – but ask them the ingredients. I have found that even some of the best ice cream shops are using some stabilizers that can be an issue. Only do one brand and see how you feel. Any way… keep letting us know how you are doing with this.

  7. @Ann – Thanks for the feedback. You’ve inspired me to look into making my own ice cream at home. I just found a few machine-less recipes.

    My whole life I didn’t care for vanilla. Then last summer I met a girl whose father worked in the ice cream business. He said that the highest quality ice cream always goes to the vanilla, because there is nothing to cover up defects. Since then I’ve tried and really appreciated the flavor of vanilla.

  8. Talking of experiments I have been cutting back coffee as it made me feel hyper and stresses my adrenals. After trying to quit abruptly initially a while back I tried yr easing back trick. I have eased off over the last two weeks I am now down to one cup and today half a cup. I have also cut down on sugar with it. As I cut back I feel the withdrawal but also notice caffeine’s effect more keenly now that I am no longer in its compulsive loop. Still feel tired in the am but reckon that’s all part of it draining out my system. Started drinking coffee in my teens so this is an interesting experience. I drink more water and haven’t replaced it with tea yet.

  9. The chilling truth about ice-cream. Your comments led me to do some searching.

  10. @Pauline – Good luck on your caffeine experiment and thanks for the ice cream link. I have come to the conclusion that if I continue to make ice cream a staple in my diet that I will have to start making it myself.

  11. What do you think about Haagen-Dazs ice cream? That’s by far the best quality ice cream I can get in Chile. Strawberry and vanilla.

  12. @Nicolas – It depends. HD tends to be cleaner than most brands though.

    Their coffee ice cream just has 5 ingredients. However their Vanilla Bean Espresso has corn syrup added.

    Just read the labels. I’m a fan of HD, just not every flavor.

  13. Exactly.

    Strawberry flavor is just cream, strawberries, skim milk, sugar and egg yolks.

    Greetings from Chile!

  14. @Nicolas – My grocery store never carries the strawberry HD5. Just the coffee, lemon, chocolate and vanilla. Time I moved to Chile!

  15. The other day, I ate a full TUB of homemade PA ice cream. (country crock butter container; 3lbs full)

    Peanut butter.

    I ate it during a thermal loading session… I was shivering by the end LOL!

  16. Just for interest here is a link to a book that informs on caffeine/cortisol connection and many other ways caffeine affects your body an brain I downloaded it on kindle and read ages ago but have just re-read and makes fascinating reading. I notice as I cut back on coffee my chocolate consumption increases. So I am listening and learning. I also wonder if late night eating affects your level of cortisol/insulin causing you to be vulnerable to waking in the early hours. I know any choc/sugar or even potatoes later in the evening will have this effect for me as blood sugar lowers and andrenal kicks in to raise yr blood sugar in the early hours.


  17. I noticed early hour wakening after late evening ice cream. Your thoughts?

  18. @Pauline – I have no way of knowing is my cortisol levels are too high. I suspect not since I don’t have any extra signs though. I am lean, infection free and excellent blood pressure numbers.

    As for late night eating, for me it is REQUIRED. If I don’t eat right before bed I will have trouble falling asleep and will be woken up by hunger.

    Ice cream has had zero negative effects on my sleep. I have data to support that claim as well. I track my last meal and sleep quality in a spreadsheet.

  19. Michael, where o’ where do you find full fat (organic an added +) ice cream with no emulsifiers, binders, etc. that have only milk, cream, sugar (no HFCS) and the ice cream flavor or fruit?

    I’ve searched all over West Seattle at PCC, Thriftway, TJ’s, Metropolitan Market, QFC and Safeway… and apparently there is NO such thing as an organic ice cream without guar gum, carageenan, preservatives, artificial flavors, etc.

    Short of driving to Molly Moon from West Seattle and buying a pint (or six) there to keep on hand, I just can’t believe that so called “natural” or organic ice cream brands, from the smallest/boutique brands, to the largest, can’t make an ice cream w/o garbage added in. And I can’t even assume that Molly Moon doesn’t also add those things, and/or more.

    So frustrating. I really loved this post though. Even as a diabetic, a girl wants a little ice cream now and again. Even if it’s just a bite.

  20. @Cheryl – I think Haagen Dazs 5 is full fat and wo/ crap. Not their entire line though. You are closer to Full Tilt than Molly Moons. Or you could make your own, which is something I hope to do soon.

  21. What about the ingredients in the ice cream? Do you have a research on which ice cream shop use non-toxic ingredients? Or when they claim they use “Natural” ingredients, what does it mean( Full-Tilt)? How much sugar we consume in one pint of of Ice Cream?

  22. @Olive – Full Tilt is a Seattle based ice cream shop. I’m not concerned that the local premium ice cream shops are using toxic ingredients. They tend to be used by the lower quality grocery store brands and a few premium ones.

    I’m not an expert on this topic, but I favor brands with fewer ingredients. Some other ideas:

    1- avoid anything with gluten toppings inside
    2- nothing should be soy or low-fat
    3- avoid carrageenan
    4- sugar is better than corn syrup
    5- when unsure, choose vanilla

  23. @Olive – I went to your site. I liked the pumpkin pork curry idea.

    What kind of Thai curry sauce is that?

  24. Thank you for the ice cream info, I went to Full Tilt late last night and enjoyed the Nana Nilla, so good! I do like FullTilt because it has less sugary tastes. My allergy to dairy has reduced to almost none over the past few months by changing my diet to almost no-dairy consumption. Go figure?

    The curry dish I made is Massaman curry I took a cooking class in Thailand long time ago, I still remember the freshness of herbs and spices. This is Massaman curry pastes.

    Below Copy from Wikipedia :
    ” The flavoring for Massaman curry is called Massaman curry paste (nam phrik kaeng matsaman). The dish usually contains coconut milk, roasted peanuts or cashews, potatoes, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, star anise, palm sugar, fish sauce, chili and tamarind sauce. Traders brought spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, star anise, cumin, cloves and nutmeg from Indonesia to the south coast of Thailand. The dish is served with rice and sometimes with pickled ginger or “achat” (Thai: อาจาด, [aːtɕàːt]), an accompaniment made with cucumber and chili peppers macerated in vinegar and sugar.”

  25. @Olive – I am going to make your pumpkin curry later today!

    Full Tilt does have a coconut milk option. I do know someone that can only have dairy every 4th day otherwise she gets symptoms – so it is possible to have a sweet spot where dairy is tolerable.

  26. Mas, glad I found this.

    My whole body has been exhausted from an weight lifting session and I was thinking I am not eating enough to support growth and recovery. Fish tacos with mayo weren’t cutting it.

    I have been experimenting and will post results on my site in making my own ice cream without a machine.

    The levers have been amount of sugar, whether to make my own evaporated milk or not and using heavy cream or not.

    In all cases I use. Base of 8 pastures eggs varying between just yolks or having four whites. I add coconut oil and MCT oil to the custard base.

    This makes for a chewy New England style ice cream but I haven’t hit optimal combinations yet. But will keep you posted.

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