7 Ways to Lighten Up Your Go-To Fancy Coffee Order

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Feel like you can't get moving without your morning coffee? You're not alone! In fact, many of us have our custom go-to phoned in even before we arrive at our favorite coffee hotspot. Trouble is, most of these coffee drinks are high in fat, calories and sugar.

"Some of these coffee drinks pack an entire day's worth of fat, calories and sugar in one extra-large cup," says Halle Saperstein, R.D., a registered dietitian at Henry Ford Health System. "Some drinks have 17 teaspoons of sugar while the health authorities recommend consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily for women and no more than 9 added teaspoons of sugar for men."

Does that mean you have to take your favorite coffee drink off the table? Not necessarily.

Your Go-To-Guide For Skinnier Coffee

Cold or hot, coffee drinks boast plenty of not-so-healthy extras. Frozen favorites pack a ton of sugar, artificial ingredients and whipped cream, while hot drinks come with sugar-laden pumps of flavoring and whole milk.

"Many of the most popular coffee drinks weigh in at nearly 400 calories, but they don't fill you up like food does," Saperstein says. "In fact, most people drink these fancy coffee concoctions before, during or after a meal."

The good news: You can transform a high-fat, high-sugar latte fix into a healthy beverage that's low in both calories and fat with these seven strategies:

  1. Skip the whip: Unfortunately, this delectable topper can add up to 150 calories and 13 grams of fat to an already loaded drink. A better option: Ask for extra nonfat foam. You'll get a similar mouth feel to whipped cream, but without the fat and calories.
  2. Be mindful of milk: Today's coffee drinks include every type of milk imaginable, from soy to almond to coconut to cow. "Different milks have different nutrient profiles," Saperstein says. Coconut and whole milk are loaded with calories and saturated fat. Your best bet is to stick with skim, soy, hemp or almond.
  3. Skip the syrup: Syrups contain a ton of sugar and calories. If you crave the extra flavor, ask for half a pump or go sugar-free.
  4. Watch your portion size: If you tend to guzzle the largest coffee your shop has to offer, consider taking it down a notch. Not only will you reduce the amount of caffeine you ingest, but you'll also cut a huge dose of fat if your drink boasts fancy extras.
  5. Customize your drink: There's no reason you can't spruce up a regular coffee on your own terms. "Just get a large coffee with a sugar-free pump of vanilla," Saperstein says. "Ask for a nonfat foam topper and when you get your drink, sprinkle cocoa powder or cinnamon on top."
  6. Consider half-caf: Sugar, calories and fat aren't the only coffee concerns. Coffee drinks also pack a lot of caffeine, a powerful and addictive stimulant. Unfortunately, many store-bought coffee drinks boast more than double the daily limit of 400 milligrams (or four cups of coffee). To sidestep the jitters, make your order half-caf or decaf.
  7. Make it at home: The best way to control what's in your brew is to make it yourself. Buy a bag of espresso and mix in flavored coffee like chocolate, hazelnut, cinnamon or vanilla, then brew at home. You can purchase a $10 milk frother online and froth your own skim milk. Then add a sprinkle of cinnamon, and you have fancy coffee at home.

Coffee Precautions

It's important to remember that coffee is acidic and can be problematic for your gut and tooth enamel, especially in large doses. The gussied-up store-bought variety may hit your wallet hard, too. A $4 drink, five days per week will cost you more than $1,000 each year.

But homemade coffee (and the slimmed-down coffee shop variety), isn't all bad. "Studies suggest coffee is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and may help prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes and cognitive disorders," Saperstein says. "Coffee has also been shown to boost athletic performance."

The key to safer sipping is to know what's in your drink — and how to slim it down. No one needs a fancy, whip-topped latte every day, particularly when you can drink a healthier beverage that tastes good, gives you a boost and won't weigh you down.

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To find a registered dietitian at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Halle Saperstein, RD, is a clinical dietitian at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and enjoys teaching the importance and benefits of a healthy diet.

Categories: EatWell