Bodybuilders often have surprisingly strict diets, considering the public perception is that they can eat whatever they want. You’ll see a lot of bodybuilders eating meals that revolve around chicken, broccoli, and rice, or something egg-based. But do bodybuilders eat ice cream? If so, is there a good reason why they do?
Bodybuilders often eat ice cream while bulking as it is very high in calories and extremely palatable. However, there are no specific benefits other than being high in calories. Bodybuilders who are looking to lose weight will almost certainly avoid ice cream.
In this article, we will look at whether ice cream is good for bulking, whether it has any benefits as a post-gym snack, and whether it is a good idea to eat ice cream if you are looking to gain weight.
Bodybuilders certainly eat ice cream, but not for any specific reason. They probably just enjoy eating it. Ice cream may be eaten during a bulk, as it is a great way to increase your calorie intake easily. But if it is eaten outside of bulking, then it is done so as a treat, and for no other reason. Thanks to If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), fitting in the occasional serving of ice cream is possible, provided the rest of your diet is on point.
Bodybuilders who follow more restrictive diets (i.e. paleo) would most likely avoid ice cream but may struggle to deal with cravings long term (not specifically for ice cream, but for off-diet foods in general).
Ice cream is not a health food, far from it in fact. It is low in protein, high in fat, and high in calories. That’s why it is served as a dessert rather than seen as a health tonic. Interestingly, not all ice cream is created equal. You can get incredibly luxurious ice cream that is high in calories, and on the other end of the spectrum, there are protein ice creams that are almost healthy.
Of course, you can eat ice cream while bulking, in fact, you can have ice cream whenever you want, you just need to ensure that it can fit into a healthy diet. But I suspect people asking this question are really asking whether eating ice cream while bulking is a good idea.
That depends on the type of bulk you are following. If you are following a clean bulk, then ice cream may not work. Clean bulks involve eating in a calorie surplus but being sensible about it. Gradually increasing your calories and looking to do so through healthy foods is the preferred strategy for a clean bulk. This method tends to take longer but allows you to build just as much muscle with less body fat accumulation.
Dirty bulks are a different matter entirely. A dirty bulk involves you eating as many calories as you can get, from a variety of sources, all with the aim of building as much muscle as possible and not worrying about how much body fat you gain. A dirty bulk could benefit from ice cream as it is so easy to consume and is very calorie-dense.
There is also the third option, which is a bit of a compromise. You will aim to gain weight from a combination of healthy foods and foods that are calorie-dense such as ice cream, cheese, and higher-fat meats. This is probably the best option for most men. Clean bulks are pretty dull and can take a long time. Dirty bulks are just about manageable if you are taking steroids, but if not it should only be performed by men who are extreme hard gainers. The third option is a great compromise, and absolutely can involve ice cream!
Ice cream is an effective way to gain weight, in the same way that eating 42 pizzas in a week is an effective way to gain weight. It’s calorie-dense, hyper-palatable (tastes great) and can be bought cheaply. But it isn’t very nutritious, and there is little protein. So what benefits does it really offer?
Adding a protein ice cream (yes they exist, and they are surprisingly nice) could be a smarter way to gain weight. Having that ice cream with some fruit would also help to make things better.
Unlike most dairy products, ice cream isn’t really that effective for the gym. It is high in calories, high in fat, and low in protein. A high-protein ice cream however might be decent as a fun (but not optimal) post-workout treat.
A 473-gram tub of Halo top Gooey Brownie Ice Cream contains just 380 calories, and it has 13.5 grams of protein. This isn’t anywhere near as high in protein as a protein shake (for example) but compared to regular ice cream it is very good. I’d still struggle to say that high-protein ice cream is good for the gym though. It’s just better than regular ice cream, and something nice to enjoy.
As a pre-workout, ice cream is a terrible choice. It’s high in fat, which isn’t ideal for training on, and it isn’t particularly satiating unless you eat a lot of it. Ice cream also wouldn’t really work as a peri-workout meal. So in conclusion, ice cream doesn’t work as a pre-workout or peri-workout meal, but a high-protein ice cream might be okay as a post-workout treat.
Bodybuilders will either eat ice cream as part of a bulk or as an occasional treat. There are higher protein ice creams out there, but they are nothing special when it comes to nutrition. If you enjoy ice cream, then find a way to enjoy it every once in a while. But it’s not high on the list of foods that you would want to consume as a bodybuilder.
Matt Smith is the owner of Beer N Biceps. He has a degree in Sports Science, 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry, and has written for hundreds of fitness websites. He is a lover of good quality beer and believes that drinking in moderation can form part of a healthy lifestyle.