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Is your coffee making you fat?

We Americans love our coffee.  Whether we depend on it for energy or just enjoy a warm beverage in the morning, our daily cup(s) of joe have become a vice to many of us.  Such a vice, that when I consult with clients, their biggest fear is that I’ll take it away.  We’ve discussed the benefits of coffee before, but now it’s rarely drunk in its natural black-cup form; it has been transformed into one of the most popular sugar-sweetened and artificially flavored beverages on the market.  Do you know what’s in your favorite drink or how it could be negatively impacting your waistline?  Read on below to discover the DOs and DON’Ts of coffee drinks to confirm you aren’t making any health mistakes!

DO hold the flavor shots.  One pump of flavor is, at minimum, the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar!  That would be like adding 4 packets of sugar to your one cup of coffee!  Don’t give in to the artificial sweetener packets or sugar-free flavor pumps either.  They’re loaded with artificial ingredients you don’t want to consume.  If you like your coffee sweet, try a stevia packet or some liquid stevia instead.  Many grocery stores now carry several flavors of liquid stevia (toffee nut, vanilla, etc.), and adding a couple drops can flavor up your beverage without all the insulin-triggering sugar.

DON’T give in to the expanding line of artificial creamers at the grocery store.  Much like the ever-evolving yogurt aisle, it’s filled with several brands and “dessert-like” flavors sure to capture your eye, yet provide minimal health products (Should “products” be “benefits”?).  Some quick rules of thumb: if the creamer is labeled “fat-free” it’s loaded with sugar, and if it’s labeled “sugar-free” it’s loaded with artificial ingredients.  You don’t want either!  If you are looking in this aisle, read the ingredient list of each product you pick up.  There are a few “OK” ones that have minimal ingredients, but just like yogurt, go for organic and zero added sugar.  My favorites are the almond- or coconut-based creamers!

DO go for the heavy cream. I mean it.  If you are going to add anything to that black cup, go for a true, whole-fat ingredient such as coconut milk, organic whole milk or heavy cream.  They’ll add some savory flavor to your beverage without calling on insulin-triggering sugar. In the grocery store, organic heavy cream usually lives in the health foods section, as does the organic milk or coconut milks.  Even the coconut milk found in the baking section (in can form) tastes wonderful in a cup of joe.  If you are making a coffee-shop run, you’ll have to ask them for the heavy cream; they usually keep a small carton since it’s not a normal request.  My all-time favorite drink is a cafe Americano (espresso) with some heavy cream.

DON’T drink more than the recommended daily dosage (roughly 1 or 2 eight-ounce cups).  Drinking too much caffeine can actually increase a stress response (cortisol) in your body.  Too much cortisol often leads to weight gain, specifically in the abdomen.  The rule with coffee is a little can go a long way, so at home, take advantage of a single-cup brewer so you don’t consume too much. Or if you get your coffee at a coffee shop, don’t consume larger than a medium size or 16 ounces.

DO savor the flavor.  Most of my clients abuse coffee, drinking cup after cup without even taking a second to enjoy its true aroma and flavor.  Because of this, they are most often buying cheaper and low-quality coffee, and doctoring it up to make it taste better.  If you expand your horizons, such as buying your own fresh coffee beans and grinding them at home, you might enjoy your coffee more and naturally drink it slower. 

Written by Anika DeCoster – Asst. Program Manager, LifeTime WeightLoss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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Reader Comments (3)

The author of this article should have been more explicit regarding the use of artificial sweeteners. Do they affect our insulin level like sugar??? Is Stevia different than other sweeteners?

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Stevia is an awesome alternative to other sweeteners, as it is derived from a plant source. There are some side effects from other artificial sweeteners. For instance, sucralose (aka Splenda) has been shown to impact the good bacteria in your gut. Stick to Stevia if you're going to sweeten your drinks! :)

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPierre Binandeh

There is a substance in green coffee beans called chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid is very significant to plant metabolism and apparently has a similar effect on the human metabolism.
Weight loss coffee

July 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersyndry david

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