6 Best Ice Cream For Bulking (And, The 3 Worst)

When you’re trying to gain muscle, adding ice cream to your diet can help give you a caloric surplus, which is especially important if you’re someone who struggles with hitting their calorie goal for the day. 

As well, many ice cream brands nowadays include higher protein contents because they’re made with milk protein concentrate or whey protein concentrate. This also helps you add more protein to your diet, which when paired with a caloric surplus, aids in muscle growth. 

So which is the best ice cream for building muscle?  The best ice cream for building muscle is Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough because it is high in calories (370 kcal per serving) and has one of the highest protein contents compared with other brands of ice cream (6g of protein per serving).   

What you want to avoid if you’re looking to build muscle are ice cream brands that are labeled as low-calorie.  Even if these low-calorie ice cream options have a high protein content, they won’t have sufficient enough calories to put you in a caloric surplus, which is key for muscle growth.  

I’ve researched every brand of ice cream on the market.  I’ve come up with the 6 best brands for bodybuilders and below I’ll share my results with you.

What To Consider When Eating Ice Cream In A Bulk (3 Factors)

3 factors to consider when buying ice cream for bulking

The 3 factors to consider when buying ice cream for bulking are: 

  • The amount of protein 
  • The number of calories 
  • The carbohydrate contents 

1. The Amount Of Protein

When you’re trying to gain muscle, consuming enough protein is essential. The best ice cream for building muscle must, therefore, have a high protein content, which should be more than 4 grams per serving.  The average protein content in most ice creams is around 2-3 grams per serving.

According to the ACSM, the optimal amount of protein for athletes and bodybuilders who are looking to increase muscle mass is between 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. It can often be difficult to achieve this goal, so if you’re consuming extra calories through ice cream, it’s worth finding one that has as much protein in it as possible to reach our goals.

Finding an ice cream product that has a higher-than-average protein content means that you can enjoy a delicious dessert while fuelling your body with more amino acids for muscle growth. 

2. The Number Of Calories 

When bulking, it can often be difficult to reach your calorie target each day, especially when it’s much higher than your maintenance calories. Eating ice cream that is calorie-dense will make it easier to bump up your daily caloric intake. Look for ice cream brands that have more than 200 calories per serving.

Many ice creams manufacturers brand their products towards the calorie-conscious consumer, claiming that they are low in calories, low in carbs, and fat-free. These ice creams are great for people who have a goal to lose weight, but they’re not suitable for those who are in a bulking phase or trying to gain muscle.

For athletes and lifters with the goal of muscle growth, ice cream products with higher calories are more suitable, especially if you’re considered a “hard-gainer”. 

Related Article:  Is Ice Cream Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?

3. The Carbohydrate Contents 

The number of carbohydrates per serving is also an important factor when choosing the best ice cream for bodybuilding. A high carbohydrate ice cream will increase glycogen replenishment after your workouts (helping you to recover before your next training session).  

An ice cream product that has a higher carbohydrate content is more beneficial, such as one that contains 18 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per serving when you’re trying to bulk. 

Related Article: Can You Eat Sugar While Bulking? (Complete Guide)

Best Ice Cream For Bulking 

The six best ice cream for bulking are: 

  • Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • Enlightened Keto P. B. Cookies & Brownie Dough 
  • Edy’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream 
  • Private Selection Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Ice Cream 
  • Breyer’s Classic Snickers Ice Cream 
  • Coconut Bliss Mint Chip Galactica Ice Cream 

Related Article: Can You Mix Whey Protein With Ice Cream?

ice cream for building muscle: ben & jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough - highest in calories

Macronutrient breakdown per serving: 

  • 370 calories
  • 42 grams carbohydrates
  • 6 grams protein
  • 20 grams fat 

Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most popular ice cream brands and it’s known for its extensive range of flavors. If you’re in a bulk, Ben & Jerry’s the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is one of the best options due to its higher calorie content. 

With 370 calories per serving (2/3 cup), you can add this ice cream into your diet to maximize your calorie intake.  

When I’ve tried this ice cream, I’ve found that I didn’t feel overly full afterwards.

This is beneficial when you’re on a bulk as you’ll already be eating more than usual to get yourself into a calorie surplus. Any foods that provide a lot of calories without leaving you feeling bloated and overly full will, therefore, make it easier for you to achieve a calorie surplus.   

Buy Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough here. 

2. Enlightened Keto P. B. Cookies & Brownie Dough – Highest Protein

ice cream for building muscle: enlightened keto p. b. cookies & brownie dough - highest protein

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 250 calories
  • 18 grams carbohydrates
  • 6 grams protein
  • 22 grams fat 

The Enlightened Keto P. B. Cookies & Brownie Dough is a great option for building muscle due to its higher-than-average protein content. 

With 6 grams of protein per serving (2/3 cup), it contains around 50% more protein than some of the other options in this list and up to 300% more than most traditional ice cream products. 

There are 18 grams of carbohydrates per serving, which is half as many carbs as the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  This is okay if you’re looking for something moderate in carbs and calories. However, most people bulking will need a higher carb intake, so feel free to pair this ice cream with fruit or other carb sources. 

The sweetness of the vanilla ice cream is complemented by chunks of gooey peanut butter cookie dough and brownie dough, making this a delicious and nutritious ice cream.  

Buy the Enlightened Keto P. B. Cookies & Brownie Dough here. 

3. Edy’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream – Best For Women

ice cream for building muscle: edy’s butter pecan ice cream - best for women

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 200 calories
  • 20 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams protein
  • 11 grams fat 

Edy’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream is the best ice cream for women who are bodybuilding because it is the lowest in calories compared with the other options.  Although the exact number of calories that you need to bulk depends on a variety of factors, including your age, body weight, and training routine, women generally require fewer calories than men to bulk.

As a generalization, most women could bulk on 2,500 calories a day. For men, a 2,500 calorie-a-day target is more likely to be used during a cut. Since women naturally have a lower caloric requirement than men, the Edy’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream is the most suitable option for female lifters who are on a bulk.

Women can consume more of this ice cream or enjoy one serving of 200 calories alongside a well-balanced diet that hits their daily macronutrient targets.

With crunchy roasted pecans scattered throughout the vanilla bean ice cream, it’s perfect for when you want to spice up a traditional vanilla-flavored dessert. 

Buy Edy’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream here. 

4. Private Selection Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Ice Cream – Another Great High Carb Option

ice cream for building muscle: private selection sea salt caramel truffle ice cream -  great high carb option

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 290 calories
  • 38 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams protein
  • 14 grams fat  

The Private Selection Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Ice Cream has one of the highest carbohydrate contents out of all protein brands on this list, with 38 grams per serving. 

The high carbohydrate content of this ice cream helps you to refuel and replenish your glycogen stores, ready for your next workout. Therefore, this ice cream will be most suited as a post-workout snack after a tough lower body session where you would have significantly depleted your glucose and glycogen levels.

It also contains a relatively high number of calories per serving, which can bump up your calories and make your bulk a little easier. 

If you’re a fan of salted caramel flavors, this product will be the perfect option. There are delicious sea salt caramel swirls and chocolate-covered salted caramel balls throughout a sweet caramel ice cream.  

Buy Private Selection Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Ice Cream here. 

5. Breyer’s Classic Snickers Ice Cream – Lowest Total Fat

ice cream for building muscle: breyer’s classic snickers ice cream - lowest total fat

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 210 calories
  • 32 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams protein
  • 8 grams fat  

The Breyer’s Classic Snickers Ice Cream has the lowest total fat content, with just 8 grams per serving. However, it contains a relatively high number of calories and carbohydrates per serving, making it suitable for bulking. 

Fats are an essential macronutrient and you need to eat an adequate amount of fat in your diet when you’re bulking. However, they don’t play a role in glycogen replenishment or protein synthesis in the muscles, so they’re less important than carbs and protein when you’re trying to gain size.  Therefore, the lower your daily fat intake, the more you can attribute your extra calories to carbs and protein.

As well, lower fat ice creams are metabolized in the body more efficiently. This is because lipids (fats) are not water-soluble, meaning that water can’t be used by the body to break them down. Since most digestive enzymes are water-based, the body must use specialized enzymes to break fats down in the digestive system.

Therefore, this lower-fat ice cream may be beneficial as a pre-workout snack as it will be quickly digested to provide a quick source of energy to fuel your workout.

For those of you who are a fan of snickers chocolate bars, you’ll love this ice cream. The smooth vanilla ice cream is full of snickers caramel ribbons, chocolate-coated peanuts, and chopped-up snickers bars.  

Buy the Breyer’s Classic Snickers Ice Cream here. 

6. Coconut Bliss Mint Chip Galactica Ice Cream – Best Dairy-Free Option

ice cream for building muscle: coconut bliss mint chip galactica ice cream - best dairy-free option

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 340 calories
  • 24 grams carbohydrates
  • 2 grams protein
  • 27 grams fat  

Made with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, the Coconut Bliss Mint Chip Galactica Ice Cream is the best ice cream for bulking if you’re following a plant-based or dairy-free diet. It has a refreshing mint flavor and sweet chocolate chips, perfect for a delicious evening dessert. 

Many plant-based bodybuilders struggle to eat enough calories to promote muscle growth due to the restrictions in the vegan diet. But this ice cream might make your bulk much easier if you’re struggling to hit your caloric target. 

It contains 340 calories per serving, which is higher than most other ice creams. However, this product only contains 2 grams of protein per serving, so you might want to have a high-protein snack or shake alongside your ice cream if you’re eating it as a post-workout snack.  

Buy Coconut Bliss Mint Chip Galactica Ice Cream here.  

Worst Ice Cream For Bulking 

The worst ice cream for bulking is one that contains very few calories (under 200) per serving, and also has a low carbohydrate (fewer than 15 grams per serving) and protein content (fewer than 3 grams per serving). 

The three worst ice creams for bulking are: 

  • Simple Truth Low Cow Birthday Cake Lite Ice Cream 
  • Edy’s Coffee Light Ice Cream 
  • Arctic Zero Classic Vanilla Ice Cream 

1. Simple Truth Low Cow Birthday Cake Lite Ice Cream 

macronutrient of truth low cow birthday cake lite ice cream

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 70 calories
  • 15 of which come from fat
  • 13 grams carbohydrates
  • 6 grams protein   

Although this Simple Truth ice cream is an affordable and popular choice, it isn’t the best option when you’re trying to bulk. Each half a cup serving contains just 70 calories and 13 grams of carbohydrates. 

During a bulk, you’ll want to keep your carbohydrate intake fairly high to promote glycogen storage replenishment after each workout. As there are just 13 grams of carbs in every serving, it’s not the best ice cream for bulking. 

With that said, if you’re cutting, this is a great ice cream option. It tastes great but is still low in calories, yet still contains 6 grams of protein per serving. Due to its high protein content, it may be beneficial in helping you to preserve muscle during your cut.

Buy Simple Truth Low Cow Birthday Cake Lite Ice Cream here. 

2. Edy’s Coffee Light Ice Cream 

macronutrient of edy's coffee light ice cream

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 140 calories
  • 20 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams protein
  • 4.5 grams fat   

Another low-calorie option that is better reserved for those who are trying to lose weight is Edy’s Coffee Light Ice Cream. 

When you’re trying to bulk, you’re best going to for calorie-dense foods that will give you the most ‘bang for your buck’ (the most calories per serving). With 140 calories per serving, you’d need to eat over double the amount of this ice cream as the Ben & Jerry’s option to achieve the same calorie total, which might leave you feeling very full!  

Again, a great option for cutting or weight loss goals, but not so much if you’re bulking. 

Buy Edy’s Coffee Light Ice Cream here. 

3. Arctic Zero Classic Vanilla Ice Cream 

macronutrient of arctic zero classic vanilla ice cream

Macronutrient breakdown per serving:

  • 50 calories
  • 11 grams carbohydrates
  • 2 grams protein
  • 20 grams fat 

The Arctic Zero Classic Vanilla Ice Cream might be perfect for when you’re on a cut, but it’s one of the worst options when you’re bulking. It’s the lowest in calories, carbs, and protein out of the three worst options. 

Due to containing just 50 calories, 11 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of protein per serving, this vanilla ice cream is not one to reach for when you’re trying to gain muscle. Stick to the more calorie- and carb-dense options to maximize your gains. 

Buy Arctic Zero Classic Vanilla Ice Cream here. 

Want to learn more about fats after a workout? Check out Should You Eat Fat After A Workout? (No, Here’s Why)

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Ice Cream Good For Building Muscle? 

While ice cream might not be the number one go-to food for muscle building, it can be beneficial for increasing your protein and carbohydrate intake. High-protein ice cream provides your body with the necessary amino acids to build new muscle fibers and the carbohydrates can help to replenish lost glycogen stores. 

Is Halo Top Ice Cream Good For Bulking? 

Halo top is known for being lower in calories and carbs than other ice cream brands, which makes it less ideal for bulking as you’d need to eat more of it to reach your calorie goal. However, it contains the same amount of protein as other alternatives so it may help to boost your amino acid intake.

Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone

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About The Author

Athina Crilley
Athina Crilley

Athina Crilley is a Biochemistry graduate, a qualified personal trainer, and nutrition coach. She is passionate about helping women to balance their hormones and cycle. She is the host and producer of Finding Flo podcast, which covers all things women’s health and nutrition.