Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream. It is creamier than premium ice cream because less air is whipped into the mixture during its making, according to gelato manufacturer Gelarmony. Flavors in gelato are more intense than in ice cream. Calories in gelato are similar to those in ice cream and depend on the type of ingredients used in the processing.
Just as ice cream comes in a variety of low-fat and lower calorie options, such as sherbet, reduced fat versions and frozen yogurt, so does gelato. The various types of Italian ice cream include traditional gelati made with milk, yogurt gelati, low-fat fruit-based sorbettos made without dairy, and soya gelati, made with soy protein.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires ice cream to contain a minimum of 10 percent milk fat and no less than 20 percent in total milk solids to met federal USDA ingredient standards for ice cream. Many premium ice creams contain as much as 16 percent milk fat. Ice cream is made by stirring in the milk and solids while freezing. Gelato has no federal standards. The mixture is cooled and kept in a semi-frozen state, which makes it melt quicker.
Calories vary in both ice cream and gelato depending on the amount of milk fat and sugar, serving size and manufacturer. According to My Fitness Pal, a half-cup of vanilla ice cream can vary from 166 to 266 calories depending on its ingredients. Richer vanilla ice cream tends to be higher in calories. Vanilla gelato can range between 150 and 200 calories for a half-cup serving.
Both gelato and ice cream are an effective source of calcium, ranging from 13 to 15 percent of your daily calcium requirements. Both are high in carbohydrates when made with milk. Ice cream has close to 17 g of carbohydrates, while gelato usually is higher in the 25 to 25 g range. Protein levels are about the same in gelato and ice cream, about 2 to 4 g per half-cup serving.
The number of calories that come from fat also depend on whether the ice cream and gelato were made from whole milk or low-fat milk, soy, yogurt or water. Fat calories in ice cream can range anywhere from nearly 18 g in premium blends to fewer than 8 g in less expensive generic blends. Fat calories in gelato can range from 15 g of fat in a generic blend to 2 g or less in fruit-based gelatos.