Is Coffee Bad For Weight Loss?

by Jen on May 3, 2013

iStock 000017277077 ExtraSmall Is Coffee Bad For Weight Loss?

I know you are probably thinking, “Jen, I can’t go without my daily java fix!”  Well, there is good news, I’m not asking you to give up coffee completely.  PHEW.  But I am asking you to carefully consider some of the popular blended coffee drinks that you may enjoy occasionally…or perhaps every day.  Surprisingly, even harmless lattes and teas can rack up the calories, sugar, and caffeine.

If it has anything more than just straight coffee or tea (and maybe a little milk), that blended coffee beverage probably isn’t worth the extra calories and sugar. An innocent-sounding Grande Chai Latte from Starbucks contains 42 grams of sugar and 240 calories, while a Grande Syrup-Flavored Latte with espresso has about 35 grams of sugar and 250 calories. These extra calories are anything but harmless: calorie-packed drinks account for nearly 25% of our overall calorie intake, and about half our population ages two and up consumes sugary drinks daily. And studies have found the result to be some serious weight gain.

Many of those pesky blended coffee calories come from the milk used in the drinks. If you don’t specify the type of milk you want in your coffee, the default is typically 2%— eight ounces of which contains 5 grams of fat, 12 grams of sugar, and more than 120 calories. So much for a calorie-free beverage— that’s more like half a breakfast! Milk’s not all bad on it’s own, but the problem is, drinks don’t trigger satiety (in other words, they don’t make us feel full) the same way healthy, solid foods do, leaving our stomachs grumbling even after sucking down all those calories.

Making the problem even worse, portions at many chains are larger than life. One Venti Americano is all the caffeine most adults should have in an entire day. Drinking more caffeine than that could cause a speedy heart rate, insomnia (surprised?), and nausea.

And we haven’t even considered the serious sugar rush from many blended, whipped, steamed, or brewed beverages.   One-third of our total added sugar intake comes from drinks. The “added” sugar (in other words, sugar not naturally present in the food or drink) sneaks into coffee drinks not just in the form of straight sugar, but also from those delicious pumps of sweet, flavorful syrups and/or whipped cream toppings.

SO WHAT IS YOUR ACTION PLAN?

All is not lost caffeine addicts! Instead of macchiatos and cappuccinos, drink straight tea or coffee— both are practically calorie-free and have plenty of other health benefits, and can even boost metabolism! Cinnamon can also be swapped in for sugar and cream in coffee to save 70 calories— not to mention, cinnamon actually has some health benefits of its own.

Still can’t resist the allure of the coffee shop? When going the latte route, opt for fat-free milk  (switching from two-percent to skim saves about 40 calories) and low- or no-sugar flavors. (At Starbucks, they call this ordering drinks “skinny.”) Or— if you don’t want to add faux sweeteners— skip flavor shots entirely in favor of a classic latte. It is worth noting the milk in lattes can actually be beneficial— it provides much-needed calcium. And keep it to a reasonable size to avoid overdoing it on the caffeine!

Do you think the extra calories and sugar are worth it, or will you start foregoing that blended coffee in favor of a more basic café drink?

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