For many, the day does not begin until they have had their morning cup of coffee. There are endless varieties of coffee and ways to enjoy it. Studies have shown there are some health benefits to coffee. According to the Cleveland Clinic, caffeine in coffee can improve memory, mood, reaction time, and performance, while coffee itself provides B vitamins, potassium, and antioxidants.
Many, however, enjoy their coffee with cream. Are there any health benefits to coffee creamer?
There are many coffee creamers ranging from traditional dairy to Girl Scout Cookie flavors to plant-based. Coffee itself is low in calories – averaging about five calories per cup. There are not many java drinkers, however, who drink their coffee black. What about all of the sugar, flavors, and sweeteners which are often added in?
The bottom line is coffee creamer is neither good nor bad. If you tend to add a healthy pour each morning, there is a chance you may be adding pounds to your waistline within a year. Let’s look at some of the typical creamers coffee lovers enjoy and the calories per serving:
- Half-and-half: 37 calories per 2 tablespoons
- Fat-free milk: 10 calories per 2 tablespoons
- Nestle Coffee-Mate 50 calories per 2 tablespoons
- Starbucks Carmel Flavored 110 calories per 2 tablespoons
- Dunkin’ Vanilla Extra Extra 80 calories per 2 tablespoons
The truth is most coffee “creamers” contain no actual cream or dairy-based products. They are mixtures of sugar, oil, flavorings, and other thickeners. The best option if you opt for cream in your coffee is to go with the real deal.
How many of us measure out the correct serving size of creamer when we pour it into our cup? More than likely, you are adding in much more than the recommended amount. One cup of coffee with two tablespoons of half-and-half comes in at around 40 calories. Some studies suggest the average coffee drinker may add in more than four times the suggested serving. For the average coffee lover, this may be 150 calories or more.
Let’s do the math. 150 calories times 365 days is 54,750 calories. This comes in at 15.5 pounds per year (3,500 calories in one pound of body fat). Remember, this is based on just one cup of coffee with four times the amount of half-and-half. This does not take into account sugar or other sweeteners, whipped cream, drizzle, a second cup, or large sizes. It would require at least a 30-minute walk a day, or roughly 3,000 extra steps, to counterbalance those extra calories.
There are no good or bad food choices. When it comes to food, it is all about balance and portion control. There is nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite treats or meals, but keep in mind proper serving sizes. It is easy to go above and beyond. And over time, extra calories here or there can add up. Black coffee is not for everyone. If you prefer to have cream with your coffee, it is best to go with a more natural product. Often dairy creamers will be fewer calories and will contain fewer chemicals. When you wake up tomorrow morning and visit your favorite barista, keep the portions in mind. Your waistline may thank you.
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