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Blood Sugar, Weight Loss & Diet

Hidden Calories in Your Morning Coffee – And How to Avoid Them

Your morning cup(s) of coffee be costing more than dollars, it may cost your waistline! Learn tips to keep your coffee healthier.
Hidden Calories in Your Morning Coffee
Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

That morning coffee habit may be costing more than you realize, and not just in terms of dollars and cents. Coffee beverages with milk and syrup, such as lattes, frappuccinos, and frappes, can have up to 600 or more calories in a large cup!

Considering that an extra 500 calories a day equates to about a pound of body fat in a week, that daily coffee may be slowing down your weight loss by a pound a week, or even leading to weight gain. 

Are you having trouble losing weight despite being careful about what you eat? Do you have a coffee beverage instead of or in addition to breakfast, believing that it is an innocent source of energizing caffeine and not much else?

When made in the healthiest way possible, plain coffee is even recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a “healthier drink option”.

There are plenty of ways to get your caffeine fix without expanding your waistline. Here is where calories may be hiding in your morning coffee, and some ways to slash them.

Ways Coffee Can Add Calories


1. Milk: 300 calories

Whole milk has about 160 calories in a cup, adding about 300 calories in a large latte. Though it is high in calories, milk has plenty of nutrients, too. If you are looking for a source of calcium and vitamin D, unsweetened almond milk can add creaminess with only about 60 calories in a large coffee beverage. If your coffee beverage is your only breakfast item, you might consider having skim (fat-free) or soy milk for 180 calories in a large beverage – still 140 less than having whole milk.

Another idea is to order your drink with extra ice, since ice is calorie-free and the more ice there is in your cup, the less milk there will be.

Did you know that dairy products, such as milk, are staples on a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to lower blood pressure?

Whipped cream can add a lot of calories to your morning coffee

2. Creamer: 80 calories

A tablespoon of creamer has 30 to 40 calories, and who has just a spoonful? Have a generous amount of flavored creamer, and you could be getting a day’s worth of sugar and a big dose of fat without any protein. Unsweetened almond milk creamer is an alternative with only 10 calories per tablespoon, and no sugar.

Did you know that a diet high in sugar and saturated fat can increase risk for high blood sugar and blood pressure?

3. Whipped cream: 130 calories

This source of calories is not really so hidden, since it is right on top of your morning coffee and impossible to miss. Still, thinking “light and airy” whipped cream means “low-calorie” can be a mistake worth 130 or more calories. Skipping the whipped cream is the best bet, while asking for extra or double means you can end up with more calories, fat, and sugar than the amounts in a doughnut – and that is just from your coffee’s topping!

Lower Calorie Whipped Cream

Whipped cream has a lot of calories, make your own at home!

Blend:

  • Non-fat dry milk
  • Ice
  • A dash of powdered sugar

4. Syrup: 100 calories

A “small pump” of syrup may have a reasonable 25 calories, but how many pumps are in a caramel, mocha, or white chocolate latte or frappuccino, and what size is each pump? Syrup can add up to 200 calories to a large coffee beverage, including nearly two days’ worth of sugar. Sugar-free syrup is a low-calorie alternative, but it may have artificial sweeteners. Adding a sprinkle of cocoa or cinnamon can give flavor without sugar.

Did you know that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar?

5. Size of your coffee: ~300 calories

The largest available size can have two to four times the number of calories as in the smallest size, and choosing large over small can add 300 to 400 calories. For any coffee beverage, but especially when you are in the mood for a full-fat, full-sugar choice, choosing the smallest possible size can keep it within reason.

Did you know that including regular treats can help you stick to your healthy weight loss plan for longer?

6. “Snack”: 400 calories

Do you ever order “just a small snack” to eat with your coffee instead of having a “real” breakfast? A “bite to eat” from your local coffee shop may end up being higher-calorie and less nutritious than a recognizable breakfast. A croissant, bagel, or half a muffin can each have 300 calories, so look beyond your actual coffee when searching for hidden calories. Better options from the coffee store can include fresh fruit or plain oatmeal without add-ins such as dried fruit and sugar, while you could easily bring foods from home if you plan ahead. These are quick and easy options for nutritious accompaniments to your coffee.

  • Mini whole-grain bagel
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • String cheese stick
  • Plain instant oatmeal
  • A piece of fruit
  • Whole-grain, unsweetened cereal such as plain Cheerios or shredded wheat

Did you know that taking blood pressure after drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks, or after eating, can lead to inaccurate results? Waiting at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure can help.

Starting your day with a jolt of caffeine can improve focus and energy levels, but that morning coffee can be a source of hidden calories and sugar. Knowing the pitfalls can help you avoid the extra calories, and Lark can help you keep track of those calories.