How Many Calories in Coffee? A Quick Guide for 2017
How many calories in coffee? Probably more than you think!
The good news is, it’s an easy fix with the information we’ll share. With a couple of tweaks, you could make a big impact on your health and fitness!
We’ll show you how to find the exact amount of calories in your favorite drinks, and give you some tips to reduce them.
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Coffee itself has nearly zero calories
If you’re one of the 65% of people who don’t drink black coffee, it’s probably loaded with calories.
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- Other than a few monounsaturated oils and protein, there are no macronutrients, which is where calories come from.
- Estimates vary. The general answer to the questions ‘how many calories in a cup of coffee’ ranges from 1 to 5 calories per 8 ounce cup
How many calories in coffee (by itself)? Not many!
In fact, it may help you burn calories!
Let’s talk about the ‘Thermic Effect of Food’.
- Have you ever heard the old anecdote about eating celery has a net negative calorie balance? It takes more energy to chew and digest than you actually absorb from the food!
- This effect is less pronounced with a liquid, but it’s still true. Anything you put in your body must be broken down and digested, which burns calories.
This effect nearly cancels out those 10 (or less) calories in black coffee.
Caffeine (slightly) boosts your metabolism.
I’m certainly not advocating that you take caffeine pills to try and lose weight, but when responsibly used in moderation, coffee has a mild thermogenic effect.
In other words, it raises your body temperature slightly which causes you to naturally burn more calories as you go about your day. How many calories in a cup of coffee that are actually burned will depend on your individual body.
- Caffeine is the most popular CNS (central nervous system) stimulant in the world. It mimics your natural neurochemicals, which increases activity in your brain and throughout your body.
- The burst of energy that you feel has a real, physiological effect. For the next 4 to 6 hours after drinking coffee, your body burns calories at an increased rate.
Starbucks “Worst Offenders”
- White Chocolate Mocha – 500 Calories
- Pumpkin Spice Latte – 400 Calories
- Frappuccino (various flavors) – 450 Calories
Play around with their on-site calculator and plug in the numbers for your favorite beverage. You might be shocked!
Dunkin Donuts “Worst Offenders”
- Frozen Coolatta (various flavors) – 550 Calories
- Dunkaccino – 490 calories
Here’s the Dunkin calculator. I personally have this page bookmarked, since I’m the weirdo who always changes my order and needs to recalculate.
Unless you’re drinking it in it’s purest form, the coffee you drink is most likely adding ‘empty calories’ to your daily intake which could be keeping you from losing weight.
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans who drink specialty take-out beverages every day (cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, etc…) you’re definitely drinking a calorie bomb, which probably isn’t keeping you full and satisfied in the long term and is causing you to put on weight.
How to reduce coffee calories:
- Consider black coffee. If you can tolerate it. It’s a great way to take the calories out of your coffee. But It’s not for everyone. It will upset some people’s stomachs. Some will eventually acquire a taste for it, others never will.
- Skim milk or a lighter fat percentage milk can lower your calories per cup. IF you keep the amount of liquid used the same. The problem is that you generally will have to use more of it, to lighten up your coffee, but it still works out to be a net benefit.
- Consider artificial sweeteners. Despite the hype, years of scientific testing has repeatedly demonstrated that there is no inherent health risk. I won’t debate it here, it can be a touchy subject for some… like global warming or vaccines. You either trust the scientific consensus or you don’t. It’s up to you, I won’t judge.These will take your ‘sugar’ calories in coffee down to zero.
If you’re still worried about it “Stevia” is completely natural (albeit a little more expensive)
A lot of people swear by Truvia brand. Click the picture to check it out on Amazon.
Make your coffee at home.
Or drink simple drip coffee at the office with just the basics (moderate amounts of milk and sugar)
Yeah, it can suck to give up your favorite daily beverage… I won’t lie, these will not be as delicious as the specialty drinks that your taste buds have become accustomed to.
You will eventually adjust, and learn to enjoy the more moderate calorie coffee. Your brain is mildly addicted to the ‘rush’ of sugar and fats. It gets better with time.
Check your measurements
We’re all notoriously bad at estimating quantities (studies have shown it time and time again). If you’re like 99% of people, you probably think that you’re using a normal serving or milk and sugar, but you’d be shocked at how out of hand your portions really are.
Use a tablespoon (tbsp) or measuring cup (fl oz) and measure out how much milk or cream you are using. Use a teaspoon (tsp) to measure out your sugar.
A food scale is hands-down the best tool to have in your arsenal if you’re serious about losing weight. They’re pretty cheap these days (check pricing on Amazon), but they take a few days to get used to (your family might look at you funny). You just have to use it for a couple weeks, until you naturally will learn what a normal portion size should be.
You may have to look up some conversions, from grams, to fl oz, to tablespoons, or back. Google is your friend here. Just type in “how many grams in a tablespoon of milk?” (or whatever)
I don’t buy into the demonization of caffeine. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly negative consequences for those who overdo it.
Addiction and dependency are real things that you need to watch out for. Maintain a low-moderate daily intake and you should be fine.
Once you empower yourself with the facts, you can create a better relationship with this powerful ‘energy booster’. When used safely and responsibly, coffee can make you perform better at work, home, and in your fitness goals.
Some athletes use caffeine before intense exercise. I wouldn’t advise that (unless you have an OK from your doctor). But here’s an idea… go for a walk while you sip your coffee.
The thermogenic effect that I described earlier boosts your metabolism, even when you’re sitting around. But if you add light aerobic exercise to the mix (like walking), the two elements synergize and supercharge the metabolic boosting effects!
I know you might be thinking “I don’t have time for that”. Well here’s a tough pill you have to swallow… if you don’t make time to prioritize your health, it will slowly slip away from you. Everyone has a million excuses of why they can’t exercise, but lack of time is number one.
- Wake up a little bit earlier
- Cut out one TV show from your day (I know you’ve heard this kind of stuff before, I won’t lecture you too much. Also, if you can’t handle caffeine in the evening, then this might not work for you.)
- Tell your boss that your doctor told you that you need to take a daily 20-minute walk. This is your life and only you can take full responsibility for your health. (Ok… so this one’s easier said than done, especially for introverts like myself)
Last Question: What’s with this ‘bulletproof’ coffee craze, is that really better for you?
Maybe, but it’s loaded with calories and good or bad, it could be what’s causing you to gain weight. We’ll talk about it more some other time.
Did you know that moderate coffee consumption is associated with lower rates of diabetes?
There are new studies released every year, showing us that coffee is not just a ‘bad habit’. People have an unnecessary aversion to using something to boost their energy, as it may be seen as a ‘crutch’. I think this might be a leftover from our culture’s Puritan history. Modern science shows us that we can actually increase our quality of life, by adding certain benefitial compounds in moderate doses. Coffee is no exception to this rule!
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You can also reach me directly at Liz@charmcoffee.com