Some days you make the coffee. Other days the coffee makes you.
And let’s face it, when you’re paying upwards of $4 for a pick-me-up to get you through a rough day, you’re not going to order the small black, hold-the-sugar cup ‘o joe. Although research shows that drinking coffee can aid efforts and lower the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, coffee drinks—the sugary ones with fancy names that take longer to order than they do to slurp down—can have the exact opposite effect on your health.
In fact, the nutrition stats on some java jams are arguably worse for you than a fast-food meal. Though a greasy burger and fries is hardly the most virtuous lunch choice, the combo is considered a meal, which is more than we can say for an empty-calorie latte you could suck down at a red light.
The good news is you can indulge your need for a bit of caffeinated decadence without totally blowing your diet. You just need to know what sips to avoid and what to drink instead—and here, we reveal just that!
1. Dunkin’ Donuts Frozen Caramel Coffee Coolatta with Cream, large, 20 ounces
990 calories, 47 g fat, 29 g sat fat, 141 g carbs, 130 g sugar
Dunkin’ Donuts markets this caffeinated abomination as “caramelicious.” More like calorie-licious! The frozen drink packs more sugar than you’ll find in 65 of the chain’s sugar-raised munchkins, and a mind-numbing 990 calories. In fact, for the same calorie punch, you could order a shmorgezboard of DD delights, including a Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Croissant, an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie AND a Chocolate-Frosted Donut with Sprinkles—and you’d still have 60 calories to spare! Nearly three cups of cream and sweetened condensed milk turn an innocent frozen coffee into a 24-ounce high-fat dessert. As a general rule, cool it on the caloric Coolattas and indulge in a creamy iced coffee instead. Even if you order a large you’ll keep 790 calories, 26 grams of fat and over 112 grams of sugar out of your cup and off your frame.
Drink This Instead: Iced Coffee with Cream and Half Sugar, large, 20 ounces
200 calories, 11 g fat, 7 g sat fat, 22.5 g carbs, 17.5 g sugar
2. Starbucks Whole Milk White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream, venti, 20 ounces
620 calories, 27 g fat, 17 g sat fat, 79 g carbs, 75 g sugar
How’d you like to start your day with seven pastries worth of sugar? That’s what you’ll be slurping down if you get to the bottom of a venti whole-milk white-chocolate mocha with whipped cream. The “espresso with white chocolate-flavored sauce and steamed milk” beverage packs 620 calories and an astonishing 75 grams of sugar—more than you’ll find in seven of the coffee chain’s chocolate croissants. Are your hands shaking yet? Dodge 430 calories and 61 grams of sugar with a frothy whole-milk cappuccino instead. No, that’s not a typo. Research suggests that high-fat dairy can lower the risk of obesity. The “why?” has yet to be answered fully, but one hypothesis is that substances in milk fat may positively affect the metabolism.
Drink This Instead: Whole Milk Cappuccino, venti, 20 ounces
190 calories, 9 g fat, 5 g sat fat, 16 g carbs, 14 g sugar
3. Caribou Breve with Whipped Cream, large, 20 ounces
650 calories, 60 g fat, 37 g sat fat, 20 g carbs, 2 g sugar
Oh America, we’ve done it again: taken a culinary creation from elsewhere like the caffè latte–Italy’s “milk coffee”–and made it, well, entirely less healthy. A cafe breve is the American variant. It replaces milk with steamed half and half, so even a small one will double the calories and fat on your order—at least! Caribou’s large version serves up a gut-busting 650 calories and 60 grams of fat, 37 of which are saturated—that’s more than you’ll find in 12 McDonald’s hamburgers. Mamma mia! While high-fat dairy has been linked to weight management, consumption of any macro- or micronutrient must be considered in the context of an overall balanced diet. And calories still count. The good news is you can still get a creamy and very generous 20 fluid ounces of caffeine at Caribou for a fraction of the nutritional price tag. Order yourself a large macchiato—a 120-calorie espresso drink topped with steamed low-fat milk foam and whipped cream, and you’ll save 530 calories and nearly 50 grams of fat.
Drink This Instead: Macchiato with 2% Milk and Whipped Cream, large, 20 oz.
120 calories, 12 g fat, 7 g sat fat, 3 g carbs, 2 g sugar
4. McDonald’s McCafe Frappe Mocha, No Whip, large, 22 ounces
600 calories, 22 g fat, 14 g sat fat, 92 g carbs, 84 g sugar
How do you take your coffee: Cream? Sugar? Perhaps a little hair growth gel? Wait, what?! We kid you not. Check out the ingredient list for McDonald’s Frappe Mocha and you’ll find polysorbate 80—an emulsifier that also has a reputation for topically stimulating hair grown in men who are going bald. You’ll also find Red 40, Yellow 5 and Blue 1—artificial colors that have been linked to hyperactivity in children; but what really gives us brain freeze is why these colors are in the drink at all. After all, it’s brown. As for nutrition, we’re talking 600 calories—that’s without whipped cream—and 84 grams sugar. That’s more than you’ll find in six of Mickey D’s apple pies. Scrap the frappe and its creepy ingredients, and dodge nearly 500 calories by ordering a medium McCafe Iced Coffee with Caramel Syrup instead. Yes, it’s a size smaller, but it serves up just as much coffee as a large frappe. Cutting the syrup by half saves you additional calories and sugar, and is a trick you can use at any coffee joint.
Drink This Instead: McCafe Iced Coffee, Light Cream, No Sugar, 1/2 Caramel Syrup, medium, 22 ounces
80 calories, 7 g fat, 4.5 g sat fat, 3 g carbs, 15 g sugar
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SOURCE: Eat This, Not That!