So many coffee drinks are desserts in disguise, many of them racking up between 250 – 500 calories a pop, which can mean your drink is the equivalent of almost an entire meal’s worth of calories. It’s OK to indulge as an occasional treat, but doing so too frequently can mean consistently having too many calories––and that can lead to unwanted weight gain. Don’t let these drinks and the added weight sneak up on you. Here are the best ways to trim down coffee/espresso drinks along with our favorite lighter summer caffeine-infused choices.
Top tips to make sure you aren’t sipping dessert in a cup:
- Order the smallest size available if you’re ordering a more treat-like drink (think sweetened lattes or blended sweetened iced frappes) or plan to sweeten your drink.
- Skip the Whip: Topping your drink with whipped cream adds approximately 80-100 calories depending on the size of the drink.
- If a drink is flavored (i.e. vanilla, caramel, mocha, etc.) order half the regular pumps of flavored syrup to get flavor and sweetness without going overboard.
- Ask for nonfat or 1% milk instead of whole milk.
- Order extra ice if you’re ordering a sweetened drink to naturally constrain your portion.
- Don’t add extra sugar/syrups if you’re using soy milk, as most places use pre-sweetened soy milk.
- Try a sprinkle of cinnamon instead of all, or some, of your usual sugar addition.
- Stick with 1 packet of sugar, or 1 teaspoon simple syrup or honey, added to unsweetened drinks. If this seems too bland, gradually cut back until your taste buds adjust (they will adjust!)
- If you sip a coffee drink daily, stick with plain iced coffee or pair a small iced latte with a piece of fruit or a small handful of nuts for a snack.
Examples: Two heavy drinks made lighter
Original: A large 24-ounce mocha: Nearly 450 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar.
The Fix: Order a small size (around 10 to 12 ounces), request half the chocolate sauce, no whipped cream, and nonfat or soy milk: 115 calories and 4 teaspoons of sugar.
Iced Dirty Chai (chai with a shot of espresso)
Original: 24-ounce (large) iced dirty chai: About 400 calories and over 15 teaspoons of sugar.
The Fix: Swap whole milk with nonfat and order a small size (around 10 to 12 ounces): 150 calories and a little over 7 teaspoons of sugar. You can also ask for half the chai mix, to reduce sugar, but this will also make the chai spices less prominent. Alternatively, have your barista brew strong fresh chai tea and mix it with steamed nonfat or soy milk. Then add 1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar and a shot of espresso. You’ll be around 50 to 75 calories and know exactly how much sugar you’ve added.
Our favorite picks at the coffee shop:
✓ Iced coffee or Iced Americano with a splash of low-fat or soy milk and 1 teaspoon of simple syrup
✓ Small iced nonfat latte or soy latte
✓ Grande Starbucks Orange Spice Iced Coffee (unsweetened)
✓ Medium iced low-fat or soy macchiato (unflavored) with a sprinkle of cinnamon
✓ Unsweetened iced green tea with a teaspoon of simple syrup or sugar
What’s your favorite summer coffee drink? How do you lighten up your coffee orders?