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Mike Roussell, Ph.D.
Nutritional consultant and author

Ask The Macro Manager

"Can I Eat Ice Cream After A Workout?"

Ask The Macro Manager: Can I Eat Ice Cream After A Workout?

You've heard of a post-workout shake, but have you tried one packed with real ice cream? Dr. Mike Roussell explains why it may not be the best choice for you.
Q

I've seen people advocating using ice cream as part of a post-workout shake. Is there any merit to this?

This idea has been floating around online and in fitness magazines for a few years. But honestly, I wouldn't recommend it. Adding ice cream to your post-workout shake isn't a great strategy. Regardless of your nutrition goals, there are better options.

To Spike or Not To Spike

In general, people fall into one of two camps with their post-workout nutrition:

  • People who prefer fast-acting carbs and an insulin spike
  • People who take in minimal-to-no carbs and avoid spiking their insulin

I increasingly think the latter should be the choice for most people, but the first is a classic approach with countless supporters. Let's break down both.

If you are in the fast-acting carb camp, then your ideal post-workout shake probably contains a combination of dextrose and maltodextrose on the carbohydrate side, and either a whey hydrolysate or BCAAs for protein and amino acids. Everything about this concoction is geared toward speed of digestion and absorption. It forces a large, rapid rise in your blood sugar, followed by a sizeable insulin spike.

Adding ice cream to this mix just doesn't make any sense. Ice cream contains fat, which will slow digestion and slow the sugar/amino acid release from your stomach. It also contains whey and casein, and both will get taken up more slowly than hydrolysate or BCAAs because of the required chemical breakdown of the ice cream's protein structure and chains.

An Insulin Sin

On the flipside, if you prefer a post-workout shake that replenishes your body and starts the recovery process sans insulin, ice cream still comes up short. For a low-insulin-secreting post-workout shake, you're probably using just BCAAs, or maybe BCAAs plus cyclic dextrins, a starch polymer that doesn't cause large increases in insulin.

You may think that adding ice cream here would be good because the fat content combined with the casein naturally found in milk would lead to slow absorption and a minimal increase in insulin. Theoretically this is a good plan—except ice cream still contains an unhealthy dose of sugar. Despite the presence of fat and protein to slow absorption, ice cream stimulates insulin production.

Ice cream is actually more insulinogenic than all of these foods:

  • Doughnuts
  • Croissants
  • French fries
  • White rice
  • Corn flakes
  • Potato chips

If you were trying to control insulin post-workout, you'd never dream of eating any of these foods, right? So why add ice cream?

Is ice cream a good post-workout choice? No. Will it submarine your progress? Probably not. But if you're one of those guys or girls looking for that extra edge—the extra 2 percent increase in fat burning or protein synthesis—then definitely avoid ice cream as part of your post-workout shake.


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About The Author

Author, speaker, and nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, PhD is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical habits...

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JawDroppingBrah

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JawDroppingBrah

Whey spikes insulin lolz

Dec 5, 2012 5:36pm | report
WorldDomnit

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WorldDomnit

Ice cream is a great additive to a protein shake. Along with peanut butter and olive oil for healthy fats and calories, and a tsp of cinnamon, with creatine and a banana.
^Ultimate mass gainer
Cinnamon benefits: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-cinnamon.html

Dec 5, 2012 6:09pm | report
estin1981

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estin1981

Wow.....i feel so enlightened!

Dec 5, 2012 6:38pm | report
Virucyde

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Virucyde

Didn't just a you post just a couple months ago about how Whey protein spikes your insulin anyway, so usage of Dextrose to spike it is unnecessary?

Dec 5, 2012 9:07pm | report
zhgt

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zhgt

indeed. the only reason for post-workout carbs would then be a nice and cheap heap of calories for those struggling to reach total daily amount. I mean, if you're gonna down 70g of quick carbs sometime during the day, I'd rather you did that post-workout. ain't it so?

Dec 6, 2012 2:45am | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 13'10"
  • wt: 166.01 lbs
  • bf: 13.5%
travis132

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travis132

This article has been brought to you by: a guy who looks like he's never even drove past a gym.

Dec 6, 2012 8:48am | report
estin1981

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estin1981

LMAO!

Dec 6, 2012 10:35am | report
BerserkElite

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BerserkElite

ph.D ... sounds good to me!

Dec 7, 2012 6:25am | report
BDTrr

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BDTrr

I didn't know going to the gym could earn you a Ph.D.

Sep 14, 2013 2:40pm | report
Musclemax4026

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Musclemax4026

ice cream is bad. So what's new here?

Dec 6, 2012 9:03am | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 17'10"
  • wt: 214.6 lbs
  • bf: 15.0%
jaklcrow

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jaklcrow

Dude, how are you even writing articles with your extreme lack on nutritional knowledge?

A. Insulin spike post workout is completely irrelevant
B. Protein spikes insulin just as much as sugar, if not more some times.
C. LOL at "unhealthy" sugars... Carbs are carbs, bro.

Dec 6, 2012 9:49am | report
xMiiDNIGHT

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xMiiDNIGHT

Not gonna lie was kinda hoping that half a scoop in my shake would be OK. To bad, that's ok I will stick to my frozen yogurt if I need a treat.

Dec 6, 2012 10:13am | report
fieldsy4life

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fieldsy4life

It was a good read even though I never thought about eating Haagen Dazs postworkout... Let's not hate on the author or question his credentials though - if you think you could write a better article or make a career out of being a nutrition consultant, go for it. Last time I checked posting on the bb.com forums didn't pay much ;)

Dec 6, 2012 10:39am | report
G00fySmiley

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G00fySmiley

i used to mix icecream in protien shakes when i wan't counting calories.. it made cheap whey palitable.. no wi just spend the extra $ on good protien and mix with milk

Dec 6, 2012 3:00pm | report
fitnina

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fitnina

i only add waxy maize to my post workout shake !and as i knew how they make ice cream i never buy them ! and my body system has learn to not crave too :) !mainly anyhting from sugar...

Dec 7, 2012 2:45am | report
FRED514

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FRED514

No big surprise. Thanks anyway for the information :-)

Dec 9, 2012 1:51pm | report
Shkimabobs

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Shkimabobs

Anyone who believes any food is "bad" for you, is simply an idiot. There is no reason to spike your insulin after a workout; there is actually no reason at all to worry about what you eat after your workout unless you're not going to eat ANYTHING for two whole days.

I've gotten shredded from eating ice cream right before I go to sleep. When is this "insulin sin" gonna kick in?

Dec 16, 2012 8:08pm | report
Sam194

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Sam194

Even if it was right to add ice cream i wouldn't... I love the taste of chocolate whey alone :)

Jan 13, 2013 5:12pm | report
Showing 1 - 17 of 17 Comments

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