Can coffee cause weight gain? All this talk of coffee has probably got you craving your favorite commercial coffee shop beverage. Here’s the thing… you’re probably consuming more fat, sugar, and calories than you could have ever imagined as you ordered that Half Caf, Skinny, Mocha Frappuccino with an extra shot and 5 pumps of vanilla syrup, topped with whipped cream. These drinks are bad news, not just for your waistlines, but for stomping all over the amazing health benefits of coffee!
The Journal of American Dietetic Association exposed the fact that one fourth of American’s calorie intake is from non-alcoholic beverages, and accounts for half of their dietary added sugar.
You may have been thinking about hitting the drive-thru for a quick fast food snack, and thought better… instead choosing to hit up your favorite commercial coffee shop. Here’s the thing, it’s not difficult to order your favorite coffee and rack up an additional 500 calories. Think about that for a second. That’s like eating a quarter pounder between meals.
For some reason, people assume that drinks aren’t a significant source of calories, after all, it’s just a simple liquid, but a lot of them are very high in calories and weight gain promoting sugars. In fact, some contain the same calorie counts as small meals. Therefore, if you are partial to “coffee drinks,” you should make sure they are rare treats, and drink them with caution.
To drive the point home, just take a look at the following commercial coffee shop options and what they really contain so that the next time you think about a quick coffee, you’ll make the right choice for your health.
Can coffee cause weight gain? The following figures are based on whole milk drinks from commercial coffee chains:
Latte: A latte is typically one or two espresso shots topped with steamed milk. A small latte contains 200 calories, while a large will take you up to 341. The fat content for a small latte is 10.6 grams (of which 6.6g are saturated), and a large contains 17.9 grams of fat (of which 11.2g are saturated).
You may have thought that a latte was a safe choice, but that large latte contains just under a 3rd of a woman’s recommended fat intake. Once you add your favorite flavor shot your harmless latte is now the equivalent of 10 pieces of bacon.
All is not lost, you can still enjoy a latte. Choose skimmed milk to reduce your calorie count to just 160 calories.
Cappuccino: A cappuccino is typically just one espresso shot, topped with a mix of steamed, then foamed, milk. A small cappuccino contains 122 calories, while a large has 207 calories. Fat wise, the small contains 6.4g (of which 4g are saturated) and a large contains 10.7g (of which 6.7g are saturate)
While it may be a better option than a latte, it is still packed with saturated fat, which will clog your arteries. You can make it healthy by asking for skimmed milk, taking it down to 76 calories for the small, and 129 for the large. Avoid topping it with chocolate, if you must add a topper- opt for cinnamon.
Americano: An Americano is typically made with 2 shots of espresso and then topped with water (milk can be added if it is preferred). There are just 11 calories in a small, and 23 in a large (obviously, this will increase if you add sugar and milk). There is no fat in an Americano, unless you choose to add milk.
The majority of people do choose to add milk to their Americano, which is essentially just a strong, black coffee. If you must add milk, always choose skimmed. Studies have suggested that high caffeine levels can leech calcium from your bones, however, milk can offset such a risk. Ideally, drink your Americano black, always avoid sugar, and if you must have milk- choose skimmed.
Espresso: An espresso is simply coffee and water, it is usually one, or two shots of coffee. A single espresso contains just 6 calories, while a double contains 11. Provided you don’t add sugar to your espresso (which adds another 16 calories per spoon) this is your low-calorie coffee option. Don’t drink any more than 5 single espressos a day. Drinking an espresso around half an hour before your workout can be incredibly beneficial. Substances within the caffeine in coffee triggers fats released into the bloodstream, which allows the body to use this for energy. It also helps you burn fat faster.
There’s not many ways to make this drink healthier than it already is, however, a macchiato, which is simply an espresso and foamed milk, can provide you with calcium. Plus, there are just 20 calories in a double macchiato.
It’s the flavors that kill you, so don’t even think about that caramel macchiato, a large one of those has over 17 grams of fat and 390 calories in it.
The above beverages are the “healthy” coffee drinks. They are the ones we often drink and then feel smug about, because we resisted the urge to order something over the top. What about the rest of the ultra-popular coffee chain hot drinks?
Hot Chocolate: While hot chocolate isn’t a coffee drink, many people turn to it in coffee shops because it doesn’t contain caffeine. However, hot chocolates are made with whole milk and generally topped with a liberal portion of whipped cream. A small hot chocolate has 357 calories, and 18.7 grams of fat (of which 10.7g are saturate). While, the large hot chocolate is 549 calories, and contains 27 grams of fat (of which 15.2g are saturated).
To put that into perspective, a large hot chocolate has the same fat content and calories as three hot dogs. To make matters worse, white hot chocolate contains 33.4 grams of fat and 719 calories!
Beware: fast food chains often use a mix of non-dairy creamer and sugar to make their hot chocolates instead of milk. That creamer often contains more sugar, as well as partially hydrogenated oils (nasty trans fats).
If you have a hot chocolate craving you cannot get rid of, choose a small, skinny hot chocolate without the cream. This will add up to 209 calories, which isn’t great, but it certainly isn’t quite as awful in comparison.
Vanilla Frappuccino: Who doesn’t love a Vanilla Frappuccino? This blended drink is made from ice, milk, flavored syrup, and is often topped with cream. The small size adds up to 344 calories and 12.5 grams of fat (of which 7g are saturated). While the large contains 530 calories and 18 grams of fat, (of which 9.9g are saturated).
A blended drink on its own is just 190 calories for a small. It’s the addition of flavored syrups that sends the fat and calories out of control. In fact, you’d be better off ordering a small pizza.
You can save up to 130 calories just by cutting the whipped cream out of the occasion. Make sure you stay small, ask for the low-fat option, and forget about the flavors, even though they’re delicious.
Mocha: A mocha is around 75% steamed milk, it comes with as many as 3 espresso shots, as well as 4 pumps of chocolate, and then it’s finished with whipped cream.
A small mocha contains 255 calories and 9.3 grams of fat (of which 5.4g are saturated). The large mocha contains 484 calories and 25.3 grams of fat (of which 14.3g are saturated).
This incredibly fatty option also contains 41 grams of sugar in a large. Of course, it could be worse, as with the hot chocolate- choosing a white chocolate mocha takes you up to 28.9 grams of fat, and 628 calories.
If you have to have a mocha order it skinny, and without cream.
Chai Tea Latte: This spiced tea drink has become incredibly popular, and it’s made with honey and whole milk. A small chai latte contains 210 calories and 5.3 grams of fat (of which 3.3g are saturated), and a large contains 363 calories and 9.2 grams of fat (of which 5.7 are saturated). Sounds much healthier, right? Plus, tea has antioxidants, so this sounds like a winner. Unfortunately, the whole milk and the honey soars the fat and calorie counts. In fact, the large has more calories than a simple cheese sandwich.
So, can coffee cause weight gain? You can order healthier. Simply opt for a black or green iced tea (without milk) which has no saturated fats and no calories to speak of. Even better is a black tea without sugar, you get a fat free drink that’s also packed with antioxidants.
As mentioned above, we know the health benefits that coffee has. So, the important thing is making sure you’re getting the best of those benefits by making sure your daily coffees are as healthy as can be.