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Could What You Put in Your Coffee Hurt Your Weight Loss?

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

I’m a big coffee fan. And I actually like the taste of coffee, so I’ll either drink my coffee black or in cappuccino or latte form — always with no added sugars or syrups.

When the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans came out, they recommended that people drinking coffee and tea account for the calories added in from cream, added sugars, and other additions. A recent study in Public Health looked at large amounts of data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2012 to see how add-ins to coffee and tea affect energy, sugar, and fat intake.

They found that about 68 percent of people who drink coffee do so with caloric add-ins — typically sugar, cream or cream substitute, half and half, or whole or low-fat milk. These mix-ins added an average of 74 calories over a 24-hour period to the coffee drinkers’ diets. Over the course of a year, this equals more than 27,000 calories, or about 8 pounds. And about 33 percent of people who drink tea add calorie-containing ingredients, such as sugar, honey, or whole or low-fat milk — adding an average of 43 calories to the daily diet. Over the course of a year, this equates to about 4½ pounds.

Like your coffee or tea on the sweeter side? Try these tips to add some sweetness without sugar or calories:

Add a dash of cinnamon. Try this with your black coffee for a touch of delicious flavor with no added sugar and very few calories. Choose a naturally sweet-tasting tea. Many herbal and fruit-flavored teas, such as raspberry and hibiscus, are on the naturally sweet side — yet don’t contain added sugars.

Stir in vanilla extract. A drop or two can add a natural dessert-y essence to your coffee or tea.

What are your thoughts on this topic? What are your favorite low-calorie ways to flavor your coffee or tea? Tell me on Connect @amy_gorin!

Amy Gorin is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She also works as a nutrition consultant and media coach. Amy is the former Senior Editor of Weight Watchers Magazine and WeightWatchers.com and has written hundreds of articles on nutrition and health. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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