Think Your Drink

Beware: could be a calorie bombWith Pumpkin Spice Latte season upon us, it’s only fitting to talk coffee drinks. No, I’m not talking black coffee. I mean the creamy, sweet, comforting drinks that we all love – especially when they are pumpkin-y, peppermint-y or white-chocolate-y.

While delicious, most specialty coffee drinks are loaded with milk and/or cream, syrup and other flavorings, all of which give you calories, fat and carbs that you really don’t need.

Take, for example, an average woman, who needs around 1200-1500 calories a day. A coffee drink containing 300 calories, such as a grande peppermint mocha, will provide her with 25% or 20% of her daily calories, respectively. Yikes! For the same number of calories, you could have a quarter pound of lean steak, 1/2 a cup of brown rice and 1 1/2 cups veggies (AKA a whole meal). Hmm I wonder which will keep you feeling full…

So what’s one to do? Sometimes you just want a treat; a little pick-me-up. Well, you can still have your coffee and drink it too. Here are some tweaks you can make to lighten up your drinks (values are for 16 oz , or Grande, drinks):

  • Order your drink with skim milk = 50 calories saved
    • Note: soy milk contains the same number of calories as 2% milk.
  • Get 2 pumps of syrup instead of 4 (the usual number that come in a flavored drink) = 40 calories saved
  • Get 1 pump of syrup instead of 4 = 60 calories saved
  • Hold the whipped cream = 70 calories and 7 grams fat saved
  • Order it with sugar-free syrup (vanilla, hazelnut and cinnamon dolce) = 80 calories saved

So, your Cinnamon Dolce Latte with whipped cream (normally 280 calories) could be only 130 if you ordered it “skinny” (skim milk, sugar-free syrup) and sans whipped cream. Or a Pumpkin Spice Latte could be 200 calories (skim milk, 1 pump syrup) instead of 310 calories.

Some other tips to cut down on calories and save you money (read: make these at home) are:

  • Sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice into your coffee grounds before brewing to yield a delicious, sweet and spicy coffee (no syrup necessary).
  • Tea: with so many delicious varieties of tea (chocolate, peppermint, fruity, etc.) to choose from, you know that you can always have a low- or no-calorie tasty drink.
    • Chai tea lovers: Brew chai tea (from a tea bag) and add a splash of milk and splenda or Stevia (only if you need it) for a Chai Tea Latte-esque drink with a fraction of the calories and sugar.
  • For those that like to use flavored creamers, try vanilla milk (almond, soy, rice, coconut milk) – it will add a hint of vanilla and still give your coffee the creaminess you’re looking for.
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