Written by Kayla Leitzke, UI dietetics student
According to recent studies, Americans’ receive most of their disease fighting antioxidants from a somewhat surprising source: coffee. With the seemingly endless lines at local coffee stands, it is a wonder that any of us ever get sick! Due to our close proximity to Seattle, and the birthplace of Starbucks, we take our espresso very seriously here in North Idaho. However, if we aren’t careful, coffee drinks can easily wreak some serious havoc on our waist lines.
It is estimated that Americans’ highest source of empty calories (extra calories without a lot of nutrients) come from beverage choices such as sodas, energy drinks, milk shakes, and yes, coffee drinks, to the tune of about 400 extra calories per day. This translates to a weight gain of more than 40 pounds in a year. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! You can still have your cup of coffee, and drink it too – without packing on the pounds as a result. Just keep a few tips in mind:
- Portion Control! This does not only apply to the foods that we eat. Just like restaurants, coffee houses tend to increase our portions from what we would make ourselves at home. Order a size small, which is typically about 12 ounces; even that size is 4 ounces bigger than a typical home brewed cup of drip coffee.
- As a general rule, avoid anything with the words “blended” or “frappe.” These coffee drinks should really be called something else: a coffee flavored milk shake. A 16 ounce Big Train brand blended mocha frappe (very common at local coffee sellers) clocks in at a whopping 560 calories, and that’s before adding whipped cream.
- On that note, tell your barista to “hold the whip.” This will save you an additional 100 calories and 7 grams of fat from your drink.
- Order an Americano. This drink, made with espresso and hot water, provides virtually no calories, and has a great, strong coffee taste.
- Order your latte “skinny.” Did you know that your 16 ounce, whole milk caramel latte packs in about 400 calories? Request that your barista use fat free milk in your drink, and add a little sugar free syrup. Not a fan of the after taste of sugar free flavors? Ask for about half of the usual amount of flavor – this will help tone it down a bit. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top also adds an extra punch of flavor.
We all need a little “wiggle” room in our diets, and a treat – even an indulgent coffee drink – can absolutely fit into a well-balanced diet. Just be sure to save them as treats, and you’ll keep those pesky pounds from creeping up on you.
Footnote from SeAnne: We have written about coffee in previous columns, but this one somehow seems more “legit” since it comes from our own “Jitterz” barista and future dietitian – Kayla. Cheers!