Is Coffee Making You Fat?

by Matt Weik

Coffee, the most consumed morning beverage ever. In fact, they say that around 54% of American adults need their cup of Joe every morning, regardless of the temperature outside. Have you ever gone past a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and no one was in line? Me neither. I don’t even think it’s possible. People wait in line each morning to grab their favorite blend on their way to work, or make a cup in the privacy of their own home at night when they have deadlines to meet and they’re going to be putting in an all-nighter. But, the question we’re examining today is whether this amazing bean, that we turn into a delicious and caffeinating beverage, is making us fat?

Caffeine Drip

We all went through the type of day where you wish you had an IV caffeine drip directly in our arm and we’d be good to go. It could be from a poor night’s sleep or that you just need some extra focus during the day and you find you’re creatively in a fog of sorts.

On top of giving you a nice boost of energy, the caffeine found in your coffee can also help you feel more alert, more focused, and can help reduce inflammation. Some exercisers even use a cup of coffee as their pre-workout of choice rather than buying a product that seems to have every stimulant under the sun included in its profile.

How much is TOO much?

Ultimately, how many cups of coffee are you drinking each day? And more importantly, what are you putting in it? Do you find you’re having upwards of three to five cups of coffee each morning? Then maybe an afternoon cup as a pick-me-up? When the sun finally goes down for the day and we find the moon lighting our night, do you grab another cup to settle in for the evening on your comfy couch (or maybe more if you’re looking forward to a productive night)?

Everything in moderation, right? Well, depending on how strong your coffee is, you should look to only consume around four to five cups (max) each day. Obviously, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding it would be wise to still refrain from consuming coffee during these times. Also, if you are very sensitive to stimulants such as caffeine, you should consider keeping your consumption to a minimum. But, for those caffeine junkies out there, try not to take in more than five cups in a 24-hour period.

What happened to just ENJOYING coffee and why it could be making you fat?

It doesn’t matter where I go, my order of coffee is always the same—either black or with some Splenda. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand the people (let’s use Starbucks as an example) who order, but then want a double shot of this included with certain flavoring, and seventeen pumps of this, and half a container of sugar, and… you get the point (and my slight exaggeration). What you now have is not coffee. It’s a bunch of flavoring and additives with a splash of coffee. Why not just get a cup of coffee, pour in a Red Bull, some pancake syrup, Hershey’s syrup, ten packets of sugar, and call it a day?

I get it, black coffee isn’t for everyone. The taste is bitter along with a strong flavor profile, so I can understand why people would want to alter it a little. But, they are taking a 2.7 calorie cup of coffee (eight ounces) and turning it into a few hundred, if not thousand, calorie beverage when it’s all said and done. Do I need to explain to you why you might be gaining weight consuming something like this every day, or are you able to do the math?

Sugar, cream, syrup, flavor shots, milk, half-and-half, etc. all have unnecessary calories in them—and they add up (quickly). Buy a larger cup of coffee, and you can multiply the normal amount added by the increase in size. You could be consuming a quarter to even half of your maintenance calories per day just on your morning coffee. Some of you might not even be aware that you’re taking in sugar or added calories in some instances. Take Starbucks with their iced coffee for example. You go in and order an iced coffee thinking you’re getting coffee with ice, right? Wrong. You’re getting coffee, ice, and their classic syrup which includes added sugars (without asking for it). Sneaky!

Everything adds up, so you need to be aware of what you’re getting in each of your specialty coffees or when you’re adding sweeteners yourself. Try for a zero-calorie sweetener like Stevia or Splenda if you need to change the flavor profile of your coffee. Having the staff behind the counter add everything under the sun to your cup of Joe is not going to be very friendly on your midsection and weight loss goals.

What can you use to make your coffee healthier?

The best thing for you to do is to cut out everything and simply drink your coffee black, but I know there’s a large percentage of people who will refuse to do that. What you could do is, like mentioned above, add in zero-calorie sweeteners such as Stevia or Splenda. You could also add cinnamon to your coffee or cocoa powder to alter the taste if you wish. Rather than cream, consider some almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or a nonfat milk. Still not your cup of tea (or coffee)? Then try to limit your intake by ordering a smaller size of your normal go-to. You’re still taking in unnecessary sugars and calories, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.