When you think of calorie bombs, you probably imagine decadent desserts or heaping plates of cheesy pasta. But if you're looking to lose weight, you'd be better off turning an eye toward your first sips of the day. One cup of certain kinds of coffee contain up to half your daily requirement of calories, plus all your sugar and fat for the day, according to a new study in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Researchers in Australia looked at over 500 menu items in popular restaurant chains and found that calories in coffee and even some tea drinks are higher than you think, and often contain huge amounts of sugar and fat. There are zero calories in a cup of joe, straight up black—which is why it is a dieter's favorite. But most of us don't like the bitter drink on its own. The drinks that mask the taste most are the worst offenders: Starbucks' White Chocolate Mocha, for example, clocks in at 610 calories and a Pumpkin Swirl Coffee at Dunkin' Donuts will set you back around 500 calories. (Learn Why We're Saying No to Starbucks Delivery.)
But even the non-dessert drinks can add up on the calorie front thanks to milk, cream, and sugary flavorings. One venti Starbucks Vanilla Latte, a morning commute staple, is 340 calories, and a McCafe plain Premium Roast Iced Coffee is still 200 calories. Even some teas pack a scary sugar punch: A regular-sized sweet tea at McDonald's has 56 grams of sugar—more than double the 25 grams per day recommended by the World Health Organization.
All that and you haven't even ordered a meal! Have just two or three of these drinks a day, and you've gotten half your daily calories from something that won't fill you up or nourish you, the researchers warn.
But that doesn't mean you can't get your caffeine fix and still stay within your caloric budget. Here are three tricks to treat yo' self from Jennipher Walters, founder of Fit Bottomed Girls:
1. Order a cup of black coffee. Skip the specialty drinks at the coffee shop altogether, and instead order a cup of plain, black coffee. Not only is it cheaper, it's virtually calorie-free. If you like sweetness or a little milk, add it yourself so that you know exactly what's going in your cup of coffee shop java!
2. Get the smallest size. Sure, it's cheaper to buy in bulk, but do you really need it? When ordering custom coffee shop drinks, it's best to stick to a small portion size. All good things in moderation!
3. Order your drink with half the flavor and skim milk. Whether it's a vanilla latte or another flavored coffee shop drink, have the barista make it with half of the flavor and skim milk. This alone can save you quite a few calories and still give you the flavor your craving.