Tips on how to walk off that ice cream cone this summer

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By Cheryle Syracuse

Summer is officially here and it’s time for ice cream. Whether it’s stopping by a fast food place for a quick cone at the drive-through, taking guests to one of those special ice cream stores at the beach or do-it-yourself at home, the ice cream cone is a real symbol of summer.
Have you ever wondered how long you would have to walk to “burn off” the calories in that ice cream cone? I know, I take all the fun out of it (sorry).
There a lot of factors to consider when you’re answering the question about walking off the calories in that ice cream cone. First, it depends on how many calories are in the ice cream cone. Then, it depends on how fast you walk. Another surprising thing that determines how many calories you burn off is how much you weigh.
Walking a normal pace allows a 150-pound person to burn 5.2 calories a minute. Normal pace is defined as one to two miles per hour. If you pick up the pace, you can burn an extra two to three calories per minute. You’ll also burn more if you weigh more. A 190-pound person burns 6.6 calories per minute walking. On the other hand, if you weigh 110 pounds, you’ll only burn about 3.8 calories per minute.
Then we need to consider the calories in the ice cream. That really varies. Let’s assume an ice cream cone contains about 270 calories. That’s for a premium cone. I’m using Baskin Robbins as an example here. According to its website, that’s how many calories are in a large (4 oz.) Baskin Robbins Rocky Road cone. Small cones are 2.5 ounces and 170 calories. The calorie count can go up or down based on the flavors and added ingredients. If you burn 5.2 calories a minute walking, it would take you 52 minutes to burn off that large cone.
These calories are comparable to premium ice cream served at home. Take one of my favorites, Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. It has 240 calories in a one-half cup serving with about one-half of those calories from fat. The problem here is if you have it at home, can you stop at just one-half cup?
If you go for a lower calorie soft serve cone, like a McDonald’s cone, it would be about 170 calories for the regular size, which is 3.7 ounces. You could burn off those calories in a little more than one-half hour of walking.
Let’s compare that to other activities. You could lie down for 105 minutes, bicycle 35 minutes, play tennis for 20 or run for 12 minutes to burn off those 170 calories.
It’s not quite the same, but if you snack on an apple instead of an ice cream cone, you can take a much shorter walk. It would only take you 15 minutes to burn off the 78 calories in the apple.
You can say ice cream is the “taste of summer” and part of the fun. If you’re trying to cut back on calories or just don’t want to gain any weight this summer, what can you do and still have some ice cream? Here are a couple ideas:
•Pick the cake cone instead of waffle cone and save about 100 calories, or better yet, get your ice cream in a cup.
•Go for just one scoop or a small cone instead of large.
•Watch the flavors you pick. Obviously, those with added chips, nuts, peanut butter, cookie dough or cookies have more calories than some of the less fancy flavors.
•Select ices or sherbets instead of ice cream. A large Baskin Robbins Daiquiri Ice cone is only 130 calories, and none of those calories are from fat.
•Select the reduced fat or fat-free choices. Baskin Robbins Fat-Free Vanilla Frozen Yogurt has only 130 calories. A note of caution: Not all frozen yogurts are fat-free or low in calories. You’ll need to check the nutrition analysis.
•Don’t make it a daily thing. Go less often. I have a friend who says if you’re going to have ice cream, go for the good stuff and get what you like, but only do it only a couple of times a summer. It is a tradeoff.
•And obviously, the more physical activity you do, the more calories you can enjoy and still maintain your weight. So, if you know you’re going out for ice cream, walk a little longer that day.
Keep walking…whether you have the ice cream cone or not.
Cheryle Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at NC Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, at 253-2610.