The only reason health-conscious people have to be wary of their daily (or multiple times a day) brew is the potential for a high number of calories to sneak into the cup.
If you take your coffee with sugar, artificial sweeteners or drink a goldfish-bowl sized cappuccino, it could be sabotaging your efforts to lose or maintain your weight.
Here’s how to enjoy coffee without the unwanted extra calories.
Ditch the sugar/artificial sweeteners
The average small latte (220ml of regular milk) with no added sugar has around 120 calories — the ideal amount for a snack. But if you take it with sugar you’re adding around 16 extra calories per teaspoon.
That doesn’t sound like a lot, but given many of us already consume too much sugar in our daily diet, it could be the difference between putting on weight or not.
Artificial sweeteners aren’t much better. While they technically don’t contain calories, the research increasingly shows that they disrupt the signals that tell us when we’re full and encourage the body to store fat.
And as nutritionist Melanie McGrice told 9Honey Coach, it trains our brain and tastebuds to need sweetness, which makes it harder to resist high-sugar treats likes cakes, chocolate and lollies.
“Personally, I don’t believe that artificial sweeteners are a good option, because you’re essentially just substituting the sweetness that you’re already used to,” McGrice said.
“Some people use honey as a substitute, but in reality you’re essentially getting the same kilojoules as sugar without actually adjusting your palate to not need that sweet taste.”
If you drink your coffee with sugar, wean yourself off gradually so your taste buds don’t notice — your palate will soon adjust and you’ll forget about those little sachets.
If you drink milky coffees like lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos, the type of milk you drink has a significant impact on its overall caloric content.
For example, one cup of regular milk has 150 calories, one cup of skim has 90 calories, and one cup of almond milk only has about 30 calories.
But if you find whole milk more satisfying than skim, it may help you to eat and drink less overall, according to nutritionist and founder of Shape Me, Susie Burrell.
“There is the school of thought that full cream milk, or even light, reduced fat milks are more satiating, and hence help us all to ultimately eat less — the number one thing we can all do for weight control.”
So if you drink several large, whole milk-based coffees a day it might be worth switching to a lower-fat type, but otherwise it probably won’t make a big difference to your overall dietary intake.
Go all black
What will significantly cut down the calories in your coffee is going all black.
An espresso shot diluted with hot water without adding any milk or sugar, a long black contains just four calories.
“If you grab a coffee during or in-between meals, your best option is to choose black or herbal tea, or if you must have coffee, black coffee,” Burrell says.
“This way you still get the caffeine hit and other potential benefits of the coffee without the calories.”
Drinking coffee sans sugar or milk means you can really taste the flavour, so go for a high-quality bean, which will taste much better — yes, you’ll be one of those people in the coffee aisle sniffing all the bean types.
Mmmm, these single-origin Guatemalan beans smell divine.
Downsize from a large to a regular (or even smaller)
A large latte typically contains 100 more calories than a regular size, so switching to a small one will save you a lot of unwanted extras.
“No one needs a large coffee,” Burrell says.
“Super-sized coffee cups equate to a small meal worth of calories and are often the reason that people cannot lose weight, particularly when downing two of these each day and then sitting for 10-12 hours straight.”
It doesn’t mean you have to make do with less of that precious, precious caffeine — just order your small, milk-based coffee as a double-shot or ‘strong’.
Knocking back a couple of mini coffees throughout the day is another way to get all the goodness without the calories — a piccolo latte only has about 45 calories, while a macchiato has just 13-18 calories.
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