A cup of coffee with sugar and milk seems like the perfect way to start your day. Unfortunately, this classic beverage is anything but healthy. Milk and sugar can turn plain coffee into a diet disaster.
A cup of coffee with milk and sugar can exceed 100 calories, depending on the type of milk and how much sugar you add. If you're not a fan of plain coffee, use stevia, vanilla essence or non-dairy milk for extra flavor.
How Coffee Benefits Your Health
Along with tea, coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. Its health benefits are controversial, though.
On one hand, medical experts say that coffee may increase anxiety and affect cardiovascular function, especially when consumed in large amounts. On the other hand, this beverage has been shown to facilitate weight loss, boost brain power and improve metabolic health. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
According to a November 2017 review featured in Planta Medica, both regular and decaffeinated coffee may help protect against liver disease, diabetes and other chronic ailments. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. As the researchers note, drinking three to four cups of coffee daily is unlikely to cause adverse effects in healthy adults.
A research paper published in Annual Reviews in Nutrition in August 2017 linked coffee consumption to lower rates of heart disease and several types of cancer. After analyzing several studies, scientists concluded that coffee may also reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease and all-cause mortality. However, this beverage may increase blood pressure and contribute to miscarriage.
As with everything else, moderation is the key. The Mayo Clinic and other health professionals recommend no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day — that's about two and a half cups to four cups of coffee daily, depending on the caffeine content. Instant coffee, espresso and decaf versions are significantly lower in caffeine.
Coffee and Weight Loss
This beverage may also help you get leaner, as reported in the April 2017 issue of the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. In clinical trials, this drink has been shown to reduce energy intake when consumed 30 minutes to four hours before a meal. To put it simply, it may suppress appetite and make it easier to stick to your diet.
In a large-scale study, subjects who consumed up to four cups of coffee per day were at lower risk for metabolic syndrome and obesity. The risk of diabetes was 6 percent lower in those drinking one cup per day. Researchers believe that coffee may help decrease body weight and increase calorie burn. These findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in April 2015.
There's a catch, though. The above studies — and others — involved plain coffee, which has just 2 calories per cup. Milk, sugar, heavy cream, chocolate toppings and other extras can turn this beverage into a calorie bomb and derail your diet.
For example, a December 2017 cohort study published in the journal Nutrients found that body mass index and waist circumference were higher in women who consumed instant coffee with sugar and creamer. Regular coffee, on the other hand, is unlikely to cause weight gain and abdominal obesity. It may actually inhibit fat storage and raise your metabolism, as the scientists point out.
Calories in Coffee With Milk
Milk can further increase the calories in coffee. Depending on the type of milk you use, you'll get an extra 20 to 120 calories. Here are a few examples:
- Non-fat milk: 22 calories per 1/4 cup
- Reduced-fat milk: 30.5 calories per 1/4 cup
- Low-fat milk: 25 calories per 1/4 cup
- Skim milk:
20.7 calories per 1/4 cup
If you add 2 teaspoons of sugar and a quarter-cup of low-fat milk to your morning coffee, that's 59 calories. A cup of coffee with 2 teaspoons of sugar and one serving of condensed milk will have 157 calories.
It may not seem much, but those calories add up over time. Each pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so your coffee habit may contribute to weight gain in the long run.
The same goes for espresso calories. This beverage has only 5.4 calories per cup and fits into any diet. However, if you add milk and sugar, it can easily exceed 100 calories per serving.
If you don't particularly like plain coffee, use healthier extras, such as stevia, vanilla, cinnamon and milk substitutes, for extra flavor. Organic almond milk, for instance, has just 10.2 calories per quarter cup. The same quantity of light soy milk provides only 18 calories. Ideally, choose organic or natural milk substitutes with no sugar added.
- Planta Medica: "The Impact of Coffee on Health"
- Annual Reviews in Nutrition: "Coffee, Caffeine, and Health Outcomes: An Umbrella Review"
- Mayo Clinic: "Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More"
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: "Caffeine, Coffee, and Appetite Control: A Review"
- International Journal of Epidemiology: "Coffee Intake and Risk of Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes: A Mendelian Randomization Study"
- USDA: "Beverages, Coffee, Brewed, Prepared With Tap Water"
- Nutrients: "Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Obesity in Korean Women"
- USDA: "Granulated Sugar"
- USDA: "Brown Sugar"
- USDA: "Non-Fat Milk"
- USDA: "Reduced Fat Milk"
- USDA: "Low-Fat Milk"
- USDA: "Skim Milk"
- USDA: "Whole Milk"
- USDA: "Sweetened Condensed Milk"
- USDA: "Coconut Milk"
- USDA: "Soy Milk"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- USDA: "Espresso"
- USDA: "Organic Almond Milk"
- USDA: "Light Soy Milk"