A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Seasonal coffee drinks: Hidden calorie culprits

coffee comparison graphic

Imagine you had a calorie budget similar to a money budget.

If you absolutely could not “spend” more calories than available, would you refrain from using most of your budget on a 400-calorie frappe?

Marshfield Clinic dietitian Chrisanne Urban recommends people think about calories like they would a financial budget. It’s an approach that may help people resist temptation as seasonal coffee drinks splash their way onto menus.

Ingredients are at fault

“The two main culprits of calorie-loaded coffee drinks are carbohydrates and fats,” Urban said. “Sugars, milks, syrup flavors, creamers and toppings quickly add calories.”

How to cut calories

Urban says to ask yourself, “How can I cut calories?”

She offers these suggestions:

  • Choose the unsweetened option.
  • Opt for sugar-free flavorings or instead use extracts, which are calorie-free.
  • Use 1 percent milk instead of whole milk or 2 percent. Soymilk is another lower-calorie option.

Nowadays, most places have “skinny” versions of seasonal drinks, Urban said. A skinny version of the smallest ounce size can save hundreds of calories versus the dressed-up, grande version.

Moderation helps

Monitor how often you treat yourself.

“A seasonal drink every so often probably won’t significantly hurt your health, but then you have to also keep track of how often you are having other treats – like sodas, pizza or fries,” Urban said.

Ultimately, remember you’re in control

The more conscious you are of your calorie budget, the better you’ll be able to watch pesky seasonal pounds.

“Ask for the nutritional content if it’s not supplied,” she said. “If there’s a lower-calorie substitute, go for it. And if you absolutely can’t resist some flavor, get one pump instead of two. Remember, you’re in control.”

coffee comparison chart

Related links:

Is drinking coffee good or bad for you?

Hooked on caffeine? Tips for cutting back

5 reasons hot cocoa is good for you

This is sweet: Your guide to sugar, artificial sweeteners

Sugar shock: What new sugar guidelines mean for your family

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