When I first started cleaning up my diet a few years ago, the first advice I was given was to start by cutting out every beverage that wasn’t water. That way everything I drank would be zero calories.
This is golden advice, for the most part.
Those who make it a habit to drink sugar-filled, carbonated beverages daily, or unwind after work with a cold beer are racking up thousands of calories over weeks and weeks.
And on top of that, these calories are of no nutritional value to a person. You could easily cut out these drinks and see a big drop in weight, depending on how much you drink beverages that aren’t water.
Let’s take a basic can of Coke for example. One 12 fluid ounce can is 140 calories, which doesn’t seem so bad. The real danger comes from repeated drinking.
One can a day would be 980 extra calories per week. And since a pound is approximately 3500 calories. It would take roughly 3.5 weeks of daily Coke cans to see a pound of weight gain. That’s assuming you’re drinking only one can per day too.
And don’t even get me started on the amount of sugar in these cans.
But before I go down a rabbit hole, ranting about sugar content in beverages, let me say that there are some drinks that you don’t really need to cut out to help you lose weight.
You guessed it; coffee is actually a great weight loss tool when consumed the right way.
This begs the question: Is coffee zero calories?
Let’s find out.
Is Coffee Zero Calories?
The answer to this question is no, not technically. But a cup of coffee is so close to zero calories that our actual answer is: basically yes.
Have a look for yourself on Google. A cup of coffee is a negligible 2 calories.
In case you didn’t know, 1 cup is equal to 8oz of liquid. Other sugar-laden beverages may boast upwards of 100 calories per cup. I’m looking at you Coke.
But there’s more than one way to have your coffee. The way we’re describing is a cup of black coffee with no additives. And even though a cup of black coffee has numerous documented health benefits, many people don’t drink it that way. When I tell my friends that I like my coffee black, I usually am met with a look of disgust.
They’re probably used to having their coffee with milk and sugar, and I will admit that it does taste better that way. But, once you start adding these to your coffee, it becomes similar to other beverages that weight loss specialists recommend be cut out of your diet.
Let’s do a comparison.
Popular Coffee vs Coke
We’ve talked about Coke above. Let’s take 16oz of liquid instead of 12oz this time, since much of the coffee from popular chains come in 16oz variants.
16oz of Coke boasts 190 calories and 52 grams of sugar.
16oz of black coffee only 5 calories, with 0 grams of sugar to boot. But most people don’t have their coffee this way. Here’s how black coffee and Coca Cola stack up against coffee from popular chains.
We used McDonalds, Dunkin’, and Starbucks in our examples.
|Drink (16oz)||Calories||Sugar (g)|
|Dunkin’ Mocha Swirl Latte||180||34|
|Starbucks Caffé Latte||230||18|
|Starbucks Caffé Mocha||330||34|
We used these sources to find our nutritional information, and we used whole milk when given the option to choose:
As you can see, many of the most popular coffees and beverages from the biggest chains are loaded with calories and added sugar content. At that point, coffee goes from being a healthy weight loss tool with almost zero calories to one of the causes of weight gain over time.
There are ways you can still enjoy your coffee without it being so unhealthy though.
How to Make Your Coffee Healthier
So you don’t drink your coffee black, huh?
And maybe you’re a little worried after seeing the calorie and sugar counts on your favorite drinks. Let’s look into some ways you can still enjoy a delicious cup of coffee without so many unhealthy additives.
If you can’t stand the bitter taste of black coffee, it’s better to go with something other than the unhealthy creamers that many people use.
The healthiest milk option is unsweetened almond milk.
- Zero sugar
- 30 calories per cup (as opposed to 60 per cup with the sweetened version)
- More calcium than generic cow’s milk
- Low fat count
Cow’s milk comes full of saturated fats and rice and soy milk are higher in calories and less nutrient-dense (less protein than almond milk.) Almond milk is leagues above other milk/cream alternatives in terms of healthiness.
But after adding unsweetened almond milk, your coffee may not have the flavor that you’re used to. You can fix this by adding a dash of cinnamon.
Cinnamon has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. On top of this, cinnamon has a flavor that compliments coffee very well.
Another option is to add a dash of cocoa powder, which also compliments coffee’s taste well. Some studies even show that cocoa powder can reduce your risk of heart disease.
And finally, if your coffee is not sweet enough for your liking, instead of turning to sugar for your fix, you can instead look into natural sweeteners that are much healthier.
Our recommendation? Stevia.
The perks of using Stevia, quite frankly, will blow your mind.
- Stevia is 0 (yes zero) calories
- Stevia leaf extract is 200-350 times sweeter than an equal concentration of sugar
- Stevia can lower blood pressure in those with hypertension and it can also lower blood sugar levels in those with diabetes
- Stevia is free of side effects; there’s no catch, it’s really just healthy
It actually baffles me why we use sugar so much in our foods when a much healthier option like Stevia exists.
So, if you can’t get past the taste of black coffee, there’s lots of ways to add flavor and sweetness to your cup without making it calorie-dense and sugar-heavy like the coffee shops and chains do.