What are calories?
Calories aren’t evil beings from another planet sent to make us fat. They are a unit of energy, the way we talk about the potential energy contained in food, and expended by our bodies. The human body needs calories to survive. Without energy our cells would die, our organs wouldn’t function, and we would perish. We get our energy from food and drink.
The number of calories food and beverages contain tells us how much potential energy they possess. For example, a medium (6oz) banana is known to contain 101 calories. And all bodily functions and exercise burn calories: an hour’s walk may use about 240-360 calories, depending on the weight of the walker.
It is hard to tell exactly how many calories we need in a single day since every person will require a different amount of calories daily. But for a rough idea, the US Health Department says average men need about 2,700 calories daily, while average women need about 2,200 calories. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK says it is about 2,500 and 2,000 respectively.
High-calorie drinks can quickly undo the results attained through a tough session at the gym. An American Heart Association study found that “energy intake from beverages more than doubled between 1965 and 2001.” A typical American now consumes an average of 21 percent of daily calories from drinks. So to limit your calorie intake, the best drinks are (nearly) calorie-free: water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea.
How Many Calories are in Coffee?
Basic black coffee contains minimal amounts of calories. An 8 ounce cup of coffee contains only two calories, while a 12 ounce can of soda contains 138 calories. But as soon as we load our coffee with additives such as milk, sugar, and other flavorings to complement our taste, we rack up the calories (and likely fats, too).
Calories in 1 tablespoon of typical coffee additives:
|Cream (half & half)||20|
Since an 8 ounce cup of coffee contains just 2 calories and a single tablespoon of sugar contains 49 calories, taking a cup of 8oz coffee with one tablespoon of sugar means that your intake stands at 50 calories. And if you take coffee with sugar and cream, then your intake is 102 calories, and this is as long as you keep your sugar and cream at a single tablespoon each.
Obviously, the number of calories in a particular cup of coffee can vary significantly, depending on how much “extra stuff” is added to it.
Tips for minimizing calories in coffee
If you are currently monitoring your calorie intake, switching from using cream or full-fat milk to using skim milk can reduce the number of calories in your coffee by more than half.
It is also a great idea to choose a smaller serving as well as avoid adding more sugar.
You could also go for the sugar-free sweeteners, which are becoming more and more popular today. These sugar-free sweeteners contain fewer amounts of calories compared to table sugar. A few dashes of nutmeg or cinnamon can also replace about an extra packet of sugar since cinnamon and nutmeg makes the flavor deeper and balanced.
RISKY DRINKING–CALORIES IN COFFEESHOP DRINKS
Coffee drinks at specialty coffeehouses and cafés can deliver a shocking amount of calories in a single (venti) cup.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume a maximum of 6 teaspoons of sugar per day and that men limit themselves to no more than 9 teaspoons. However, some coffee drinks from national chains can put you well over those limits before you finish breakfast!
Here are the stated calorie contents of several of the most popular coffee drinks in common java pitstops in the US:
|Dunkin Donuts Brewed Coffee, 10oz||15|
|Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee (w/out milk), 16oz||10|
|Dunkin Donuts Cappuccino, 10oz||80|
|McDonald’s Brewed Coffee (medium), 16oz||4|
|McDonald’s Cappuccino, 16oz||130|
|McDonald’s Iced Coffee (Regular), 17oz||280|
|Starbucks Brewed Coffee, 16oz||5|
|Starbucks Cappuccino, 16oz||140|
|Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino, 16oz||240|
|Starbucks Hot Chocolate (w/out whip), 16oz||330|
If you’re counting calories, make your coffee at home whenever possible, because then you have control over what ends up in your cup.
Calories in other breakfast beverages
Thinking about switching from coffee to fruit juice for breakfast? Fruit juices can pack some great vitamins and minerals, but even unsweetened 100% natural juices are loaded with natural sugar.
Calories in common fruit juices (unsweetened)
|Apple juice, 8oz||120|
|Orange juice, 8oz||112|
|Tomato juice, 8oz||41|
|Pineapple juice, 8oz||133|
As soon as you stray from plain or black coffee, the calorie counts increase drastically. This is especially true with some fancy coffeehouse coffee beverages containing a full meal’s worth of calories. To keep the calorie count down, and to maximize the health benefits of coffee, keep your coffee basic. Try switching to freshly ground fresh-brewed black coffee with a little cinnamon for your daily starter drink, and save the calorie bomb Choco-Frappa-Whippo XL for special occasions. Your taste buds will take some time to adjust, but it’s better for your overall health.