Coffee and tea have been shown to provide numerous health benefits, including weight loss. But how you prepare your caffeinated beverages could add calories that work against your weight loss goals. A plain cup of coffee or tea only has about two calories. In comparison, a mocha frappuccino from Starbucks has about 400 calories, without the whipped cream.
Results from a recent study estimate how many extra calories the average American consumes from coffee and tea. The daily amount may appear to be negligible, but over time the numbers could accumulate into extra pounds.
Extra coffee and tea calories
To investigate how these extra coffee and tea calories add up, researchers from the University of Illinois analyzed 12 years of dietary data recorded by participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Their findings, published in the journal Public Health, estimate that about 51 percent of American adults drink coffee and about 26 percent drink tea daily.
About two thirds of them add add cream, sugar, syrups and other rich flavorings. For the coffee drinkers, the extra calories averaged about 69 per cup. More than 60 percent of those extra calories were from sugar. The tea drinkers added an average of about 43 calories, with about 86 percent from sugar.
Impact on weight loss
The cons: The average person could burn about 70 extra calories by walking about 15 minutes. But two or three cups of coffee a day with cream and sugar adds up to about 1500 extra calories a week. A standard rule of thumb places a 3,500-calorie value on a pound of fat. Left unchecked, a coffee or tea habit could have a significant impact on weight loss, or weight gain.
The pros: coffee and tea are rich sources of antioxidants that fight inflammation. A number of studies have suggested that coffee and tea drinkers have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Research has also suggested that the caffeine in coffee and tea could help suppress your appetite. It’s also been suggested that caffeine can stimulate thermogenesis to burn extra calories.
Coffee or tea?
It’s unknown whether either of these effects could result in long-term weight loss. But beyond all the pros and cons to drinking coffee and tea, for most of us, enjoying a steamy cup is simply a quality of life issue. Drinking tea could have an advantage over coffee. Tea drinkers are less likely to add fats and flavorings. And with careful preparation, it’s possible to enjoy a satisfying cup of coffee without adding sugar and fat.
Good black coffee
Coffee experts suggest using freshly ground coffee beans—not too fine to avoid over-extraction, which contributes to bitterness. Using too much coffee will also boost bitterness. Many coffee aficionados recommend using the pour over method instead of a coffee maker. Scalding water will burn bitterness into the coffee. After boiling let the water sit off the burner for at least 30 seconds. When you’re ready to brew, be sure not to brew for too long—your last line of defense against bitter coffee.