A Dietitian Gives the Skinny on Your Coffee Break

coffee break

With lots of sweet temptations at your favorite coffee shops, how do you keep your daily coffee runs from becoming calorie black holes?

How do you like your coffee? Black? Bulletproof? Cold brewed? Flavored? With the wide range of varieties and styles, it seems to be America’s favorite beverage regardless of the time of day. So we asked a Renown Health registered dietitian to give us the skinny on that Cup of Joe.

Coffee trends, such as going “bulletproof” (adding butter or other fats to your brew) are popular, but is it really healthier than regular coffee?

Bulletproof coffee has been gaining popularity among low-carb, high-fat dieters as a breakfast substitute. It consists of 2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter, and 1-2 tablespoons of MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) or coconut oil. Because of this it provides approximately 450 calories and 35 grams of fat.

“I do not feel it is appropriate or even necessary to substitute bulletproof coffee for breakfast and although it may help curb your appetite it provides a high amount of calories and excess amount of saturated fat,” observes Caitlin Bus, RD, LD, CDE, registered dietitian, Renown Health. “Instead of indulging in a cup bulletproof coffee, try sticking to plain black coffee which is about five calories.”

So, what healthy add-ins are recommended for those who don’t like the taste of plain, black coffee?

“If you need some creaminess in your coffee start with 2% milk. Be cautious with flavored creamers which contain substantial calories, fat and sugar. Therefore, it’s important to read the labels when purchasing creamers or flavored coffee syrups. Adding cinnamon, nutmeg, unsweetened cocoa powder or a dash of vanilla extract to your coffee adds flavor with little to no calories,” Bus suggests.

What about those fancy coffee drinks? First of all, Bus says beware of them as they can be calorie and sugar bombs. “A medium (16 ounce) flavored latte is about 300 calories without whip cream and contains 35 grams of sugar (8.5 teaspoons).”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting added sugars to 10% of your total daily calories.Hence, for those on a 2,000 calorie diet this means less than 50 grams of sugar per day. Bus suggests indulging in these beverages as an occasional treat, not a daily habit.

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Healthy Food Choices

Your favorite coffee spot also likely has a wide variety of tempting food options throughout the day. For breakfast, Bus suggests fresh fruit, Greek yogurts (not parfaits), hard boiled eggs or other egg options. Be careful with oatmeal or yogurt parfaits, which are not necessarily a healthier option. They can easily contain high amounts of added sugar (30 grams or more).

Although some breakfast sandwiches can be healthy, be aware of the biscuit or croissant versions, with high fat breakfast meats. A double-smoked, bacon cheddar and egg croissant sandwich may look good, but it can easily top 500 calories. Not to mention the extra saturated fat and salt. A better choice is a whole grain English muffin breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese.

Most noteworthy is making consistent, small changes each day for better overall health. And it can start with simple tweaks to your daily coffee habit.


Health Improvement Programs

Need a nutrition tune-up? Schedule a consultation with a registered dietitian at Renown Health Improvement Programs. To get an assessment on your specific dietary needs call 775-982-5073.

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