Eat Dessert, Lose Weight: My Macro-Friendly Treats
Any treat can be macro-friendly if you think ahead and work it into your day. That being said, sometimes you need to keep calories and fat low, or maybe you need to up your protein intake, but still want something to satisfy your sweet tooth. I get it. Dessert is probably my favorite meal, in a 4-way tie with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I think about food almost constantly. Not in an obsessive calorie tracking kinda way, but in a boy, I love to eat kinda way. I find having an idea of what I’m going to be eating each day helps me be mindful when it comes to controlling random snacking, and influences my food choices throughout the day.
If I know, like today, that I want to eat a piece of leftover Thanksgiving pumpkin pie cake with ice cream and whipped cream after the kids are asleep, I want to keep my snacks light in calories and high in protein. Rather than reaching for empty carbs like calorie-dense chips or crackers, instead I’ll grab Greek yogurt and fruit. It will keep me full and satisfied longer, and provide way more nutritional benefit. When the evening comes around, I will get to relish that pie I worked into my day knowing I’m still hitting my goals.
Because here’s the thing: it is possible to reach your fitness and weight loss goals eating absolutely any treat, in moderation.
Chocolate chip cookies? Sure. Cupcakes? Hell yes. Brownies? Oh you know it. Candy? Totally. There’s no reason to cut out the things you love, so long as you’re able to limit your intake to a level that supports your goals.
If you have fitness, body composition, and/or weight loss goals, and truly want to reach them, then you have to learn to limit your indulgences. This all starts with the understanding that showing restraint when it comes to treats is not synonymous with depriving yourself. There’s never a shortage of food around that manages to pack a strong caloric punch. Honestly, it’s not fair. These treats taste so good and look so cute and harmless, yet they have the potential to stand firmly between you and your fitness goals long after the fleeting satisfaction of eating them is gone. But hope is not lost! I assure you, you can have your cake and eat it too! By allowing yourself to indulge regularly, within reason and with a little bit (okay, sometimes a lot) of self-control, nothing is ever off-limits.
If you’ve followed me on Instagram for any length of time now, you know I love my treats and desserts. Not only do I love them, but I eat them daily and I’ve managed to reach one fitness goal after another. I wanted to share with you some of my favorite, go-to treats, and show you that it’s possible to hit macro goals while eating desserts. How could it possibly get any sweeter than that?
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Here are some sweet treats I find myself noshing on often. Some are higher in protein than others, some are higher in fat than others. Find what works for your fitness goals by playing around with quantities and swapping out higher-calorie components for macro-friendlier alternatives. I’ve listed lots of ideas below!
- Low-Fat/High-Protein Ice Cream
I have had the pleasure of eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting before – 100% within my nutritional goals – because some geniuses out there created low fat, high protein options. Many times you can polish off a whole pint for under 400 calories. Not too shabby! Honestly, I found that a bit unnecessary the few times I’ve actually done it. I’d rather have 1-2 servings of ice cream and use extra calories and fat for toppings like light whipped topping, crumbled Oreo thins, mini M&Ms, PB2 powdered peanut butter, and marshmallow fluff. You could even warm up a Fiber One or Pillsbury Fudge brownie and top it with ice cream if you’ve got the macros.
Halo Top is my least favorite of the “protein” ice creams, as I find it grainy and whey-y. Enlightened is really good, but can be a bit on the expensive side – I can generally find it cheaper at Target than at Kroger brand stores, so it’s about the same price as Archer Farms (Target brand) and Scandal-less (Safeway brand). Typically any one of these will run you about $4.00 per pint. When I see any of them – besides Halo Top – on sale, I like to stock up. Halo Top has its place – see Cake Bowls below – and some people love it, so give it a shot for yourself.
As I mentioned, it can be kind of a rip-off, especially when you can get a half gallon tub of the full fat, low in protein stuff for nearly half the price. And that is sad, however, it’s sadder to 1) never eat ice cream again, 2) dish out a measly two-thirds cup serving for nearly the same calorie and fat count, and a fifth of the protein of an entire pint of the low-fat/high-protien options, or 3) not hit your goals.
I also really like Yasso frozen greek yogurt bars when I can’t really afford to top my ice cream with all kinds of shit, or just want a quick, low-cal dessert with a decent amount of protein to help me hit my numbers at the end of the night.
- Animal Crackers
You guys, don’t underestimate the deliciousness of this dime-a-dozen cookie just because they’re seemingly plain and uninteresting. Sure, you could get the iced ones, but don’t because the macros suck and that defeats the whole point of this post.
Instead!…Grab yourself a serving of these little zoo creatures – either regular or chocolate flavored – for about 120 calories and 2g of fat, and either eat them by themselves (I promise you they’re better than you remember) or dish out your dip of choice that caters to your nutritional goals and daily numbers. My favorite is frosting – like DIY Dunkaroos – and this one is my favorite. These “whipped” frostings are a bit lower in calories than others, and they’re soft, fluffy, and amazing.
Sure, frosting isn’t truly macro-friendly unless you make your own out of Greek yogurt, Jell-O pudding mix, and your tears. But, when you have the wiggle room, you can find one that will work and actually taste good. Remember: you don’t need to have a whole serving – just dish out however much you can fit comfortably into your numbers for the day. This way you can satisfy your cravings and stay on track with your goals at the same time.
Also delicious for dipping: peanut butter, PB2 powdered peanut butter, cookie butter, Nutella, Lion’s Choice edible cookie dough, Greek yogurt whip (see recipe below).
- Fat-Free/Sugar-Free (FF/SF) Instant Jell-O Pudding
This one is so simple and light. Just prepare a serving of the dry pudding mix with skim/fat-free milk in a small bowl as directed on the package. It sets in the fridge for a few minutes, and then it’s ready to top with light Cool Whip, fruit, coconut, Walden Farms 0 calorie chocolate/caramel syrups, mini M&Ms, chopped up protein bar, black cocoa powder, crumbled Oreo Thins or graham crackers, etc – whatever you have that fits your macros and sounds good! There are so many flavors to choose from – cheesecake, chocolate, vanilla, lemon, banana cream, butterscotch, pistachio, chocolate fudge, white chocolate – so get your whisk ready!
Untopped macros per serving (based on chocolate flavored pudding and skim milk): 85 cal/15c/0f/5p
See how you can beef up this FF/SF Jell-O pudding under “Protein Fluff” below. A bit more labor-intensive, but delightful and is full of protein!
- Cake Bowl
This one is new in my dessert rotation, and I have @kelseyjfit to thank for it. I also have Kelsey to thank for the Protein Fluff (see next), but this one is much less work to throw together. All you do is combine 30-50g of pancake mix and a tsp of baking powder in a bowl, mix in water to a pancake batter consistency, and microwave at 70% power for 1 minute (more or less depending on your mix and microwave). Any pancake mix will do, but if you’re looking to get a boost of protein with your dessert, you will want to use Kodiak Power Cakes mix, Krusteaz protein pancake mix, or other protein pancake mix, just make sure the nutrition facts align with your goals.
Once the cake is “cooked,” it’s ready to top and eat! Same topping rules as with ice cream, pudding, and protein fluff apply – use what fits into your goals, and if you don’t have the macro room, it’s delicious without toppings, too.
I’ve topped my cake bowl with low-fat/high-protein ice cream, light Cool Whip, 0-cal chocolate and caramel syrups, crumbled Oreo Thins, peanut butter, PB2 powdered peanut butter, and even a slightly melted salted dark chocolate protein bar. Options are endless, depending on what you have on hand and what fits into your numbers.
- Protein Fluff
This stuff is amazing and the flavor options are literally endless. Again, @kelseyjfit knocked it outta the park with this one! There’s a decent number of steps, required equipment and ingredients, and a bit of a time commitment, but it’s worth it when all those things come together. What you need is: a food processor (preferably one you can push the button down and walk away – mine I have to hold down and it sucks lol), a whey/casein blend protein powder (pescience is perfect for this), milk of choice (I typically use skim or almon), sugar free/fat free Jell-O pudding mix, and ice.
For tutorials, visit Kelsey’s IG page, but here’s the steps:
- Crush 8-10 ice cubes in food processor until it reaches a snow-like consistency
- Add ¼ cup milk (or water), 4-8g dry SF/FF Jell-O pudding mix, and 1 scoop of protein powder to crushed ice.
- Run food processor on high speed for 8-10 minutes to allow it to blend together and puff up.
- Transfer to a bowl, top with all the things, and enjoy!
Here are just a few flavor and topping combination ideas:
-vanilla protein powder with SF/FF banana cream pudding mix, topped with crushed graham crackers, whipped topping, and sliced banana
-vanilla protein powder with SF/FF lemon pudding mix, topped with whipped topping, blueberries, and Walden Farms 0 calorie pancake syrup
-chocolate protein powder with SF/FF chocolate pudding mix, topped with whipped topping, crumbled oreo cookies, Cocoa Puffs cereal, and chocolate chips
-vanilla protein powder and SF/FF cheesecake pudding mix, topped with crumbled graham crackers, sliced strawberries, and whipped topping
-peanut butter protein powder and SF/FF chocolate pudding mix, topped with whipped topping, PB2 powdered PB, Walden Farms 0 calorie chocolate syrup, and peanut butter baking chips
-vanilla protein powder with SF/FF lemon pudding mix, topped with Fruity Pebbles cereal, sliced strawberries, and whipped topping
…there are infinitely more combination possibilities! Get creative with what you have and enjoy.
Un-topped protein fluff macros are approximately 160 calories, 10g carbs, 2g fat, and 26g protein, depending on what milk and protein powder you use, and how much pudding mix you add.
- Protein Bar or Shake
If you buy the right protein bars, they can definitely satisfy your taste buds and count as dessert. BUILT Protein Bars are AMAZING and are the closest thing to a candy bar I’ve had out of a protein bar. The flavors are incredible, and the macros are super. My favorites are Dark Chocolate Cookie Dough Chunk, Cookies and Cream, Double Chocolate, and anything Brownie. Discount Code SQUATTO saves 10%, and shipping is free! FitCrunch bars are probably the next closest thing to candy bars I’ve tasted and the caramel peanut and mint chocolate flavors are my favorite, but cookie dough and peanut butter certainly get an honorable mention. BSN Birthday Cake Remix Protein Crisp bars straight up taste like Rice Krispie Treats, in my opinion. I also think Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites are super yummy – the Cookies and Cream and Birthday Cake flavors are my favorites!
I’ve gotten to the end of my evening, short on protein and wanting something sweet, and mixed up a simple protein shake by blending protein powder with some ice and a little water – for 120 calories, and 24g protein. It’s sorta like a poor-but-fit-man’s milkshake, and seems to do the trick. If you have more calories and macros to work with, I’ve done this Twix bar protein shake recipe using Skinny Mixes syrup for the caramel flavoring, as well as this Shamrock protein shake recipe and they’re both amazing! This is another realm where the possibilities are endless depending on the protein powder and mix-ins you’ve got on hand. If you’re more of a fruity dessert person, throw some protein powder, milk, spinach, a banana, and some frozen berries into the blender – ta-da!
- Pizzelle Cookies
Pizzelles are flat, thin waffle-cone-eque cookies that are great by themselves (I prefer the dark chocolate flavored ones to the vanilla), or topped with PB2 powdered peanut butter, regular peanut butter (& fruit if that’s your jam), whipped topping, cookie butter, or frosting. At just 25 calories a piece, they’re a quick, easy, low-cal dessert and a great base for some delicious toppings.
- Greek Yogurt Whip
This one is kinda higher in the calorie department on account of the whipped topping, but the taste and protein is awesome! I discovered this through @tball_fit and @minitomighty on Instagram. Theirs is a mix of nonfat Greek yogurt, fat free whipped topping (like Cool Whip), and PB2 powdered peanut butter.
I took it a step further and added some protein powder and dry SF/FF Jell-O pudding mix. I did a chocolate/peanut butter/butterscotch combo:
-75g nonfat, plain Greek yogurt (I typically use Fage Total 0%)
-30g fat free whipped topping (like Cool Whip or Kroger has a fat free storebrand)
-7g Sugar Free/Fat Free butterscotch Jell-O pudding mix
Directions: Mix it all together and put in the fridge for about an hour. Top with PB2 powdered peanut butter, black cocoa powder, Walden Farms 0 calorie chocolate syrup, and butterscotch or chocolate baking chips (or whatever you have that fits your macros), and enjoy! Untopped macros: 140 cal/18c/0f/14p
- Peanut Butter Toast with Honey
This one is pretty self explanatory, but first you lightly toast some bread (don’t burn it to a crisp, keep it semi-soft), then you slather some peanut butter on it, then you drizzle it with honey. Fast, warm, sweet, and delicious. Just watch how much peanut butter you put on, because fat and calories really escalate quickly with that stuff. You could also use PB2 for this, but I prefer less of the real thing in this case.
Protein bread would be fine, but honestly I can’t ever find any besides Dave’s Killer Bread, and the macros are not impressive enough for me to justify the price and using it over tastier options. I love SaraLee Artesano and Nature’s Own brands brioche style bread. So good! It’s nearly half the price and the macros are practically identical. Dave’s Killer bread might have an extra gram or 2 of protein and/or 40 fewer calories depending on the flavor and slice thickness of the loaf you get. But for the taste, I’ll go with the thick-sliced, pleasantly soft and sweet brioche and make sure I’m getting what I really want.
I just googled “protein bread” and found this Eat Me Guilt Free one – macros are comparable, except 2x the amount of fat….and you gotta order online. I dunno, seems like a lot of work for little gain. This one has pretty impressive macros, though I can’t speak for the taste. And it’s more expensive, plus shipping…and out of stock.
- Strawberries and Whipped Cream
Again, a super-simple, self-explanatory treat here. Slice up some strawberries and put some dollops of fat free or light Cool Whip on top. Easy peasy yummy.
- Peanut Butter and M&Ms
Peanut butter and chocolate might possibly be the greatest combination of all time. Right up there with chocolate and caramel. Grab a spoon and scoop out a tablespoon of peanut butter, less or more depending on your numbers, then mix in however many M&Ms you can fit into your macros. Perfection.
- Protein Waffles
Waffles work on so many levels. Enjoy “regular” ones with butter and syrup for breakfast, top with Greek yogurt and fruit for a healthy snack, have some sweet-and-savory chicken and waffles for lunch or dinner, and top a warm, fluffy, Belgian waffle with ice cream and all the trimmings for a decadent dessert. You just can’t go wrong with waffles. You don’t need to mix up an entire batch – just mix enough Kodiak power cake mix or similar protein waffle mix (or make your own recipe from scratch) to make a half a Belgian waffle, top with low-fat ice cream and whatever else you see fit. Yum!
So there ya have it – a bunch of different dessert-y type things to treat yo’self with while still managing to work toward your fitness goals. I hope this has helped you see that it is absolutely possible to eat all things in moderation, and that you feel inspired to try some of these tasty treats! If you do happen to try one (or find some other macro-friendly desserts out there I need to know about!), please be sure to tell me about it in the comments! And of course, you must share with me the topping deets – it’s the best part!
I post my daily food diaries, including my daily treats and nightly desserts, on my Instagram stories, along with the macronutrient summaries. Follow along, and see how I’m the leanest and strongest I’ve ever been in my life, as a 37 year old, stay-at-home mother of 2 littles. It really comes down to nutrition, first and foremost, and exercise is just the icing on the cake.
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