February 26, 2021

Coffee traps and tricks for health and weight management

Those few daily lattes can add up to as many as 3.5 extra kilos a year. Prevent 'coffee creep' with simple tweaks that won't diminish taste or indulgence.

Colder mornings and the struggle to crawl out from under the doona can leave many of us searching for sources of warmth, comfort and alertness. Come autumn, your regular latte-a-day can turn into two or three. Call it ‘coffee creep’. Familiar? If so, you may also experience incremental effects such as gradual weight gain. While coffee itself contains negligible kilojoules, the creamy, frothy milk in popular coffee types such as cappuccinos and lattes can contribute more than you might think to your weekly energy intake. So what’s the solution? If you do favour milky, sweet or flavoured coffees, consider these tweaks to upgrade your daily indulgence. 

Here are a few hints and workarounds for your coffee run.

  1. For milky coffees such as lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites, choose reduced-fat or skim milk. Choosing skim rather than full cream milk can save as many as 210 to 250 kilojoules per cup. If you drink two a day, that’s up to 2,500 kilojoules per week or 130,000 kilojoules per year. (On the flip side, this excess in addition to daily energy needs amounts to an extra 3.5kg of body fat.) 
  2. If you do want a large-sized creamy, decadent coffee, allocate it as your morning or afternoon snack (a snack should contain around 600 kilojoules). If you can tolerate dairy, choose cow’s milk, which contains a good dose of protein and is  more likely to satisfy you than many non-dairy milks (e.g. almond milk). It also contains valuable calcium and nutrients.
  3. Resist coffees flavoured with syrups (e.g. caramel), which pack in a load of sugar and extra energy. Also skip the spoonful of sugar. If you can’t drink your coffee without a sweet edge, try a plant-based sweetener such as stevia, which contains negligible kilojoules (be mindful that non-sugar sweeteners may trigger cravings for sweet, high-calorie foods).

If you’re keen to learn how to make your favourite foods and beverages healthy, or how to overhaul winter comfort foods, consider consulting an accredited practising dietitian (APD).

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