I can’t live without coffee. I’ll admit it—if I’m addicted to anything, it’s caffeine. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Coffee consumption has been linked to diminished risk of Alzheimer’s, better brain function, and even better memory. Coffee in its purest, blackest form is good for you.
Now the bad news: That mix of chocolate, whipped cream, egg nog, and mystery syrup in your cup is not coffee. And it’s definitely not good for you. Fancy coffeehouse fare is especially dangerous this time of year—’tis the season of gingerbread lattes and loaded hot chocolates. If you’re not careful, you’ll look more like Santa than one of his elves come Christmas Day.
In fact, researchers studied coffee habits in New York and found that two-thirds of Starbucks’ customers opt for blended coffee drinks over regular brewed coffee or tea. The average caloric impact of the blended drinks was 239 calories. The regular coffee or tea, by comparison, was only 63 calories after factoring in added cream and sugar. So even if you like your coffee sweet and light, you can strip away 176 calories every day, just by making this one swap—and shed a pound and a half a month.While researching Eat This, Not That! 2011, we tracked down the worst dessert-in-a-cup crimes against weight loss, plus much healthier alternatives. This holiday season, make these swaps to turn your neighborhood coffee shop of horrors into a tasty oasis of pick-me-ups—and stick with your new choices into the new year to keep the weight coming off.#6: Worst Chocolaty Coffee DrinkStarbucks Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino with Whole Milk and Whipped Cream (venti)520 calories23 g fat (14 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)350 mg sodium68 g sugarsTalk about double trouble. Within this chocolate calamity lurks three-quarters of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat, and as much sugar as you’ll find in 10 Rainbow Popsicles! Slash your calorie intake by switching to skim milk and cutting out the whipped cream. Knock the size down to a grande, and switch from the frappe to an iced mocha, and you’re looking at a drink with 350 fewer calories than when you started. Make a switch like that every single day, and you’ll lose about 6 pounds in two months! Drink This Instead!Grande Iced Caffe Mocha with Skim Milk (No Whipped Cream)170 calories2.5 g fat (0 g saturated, 0 g trans)80 mg sodium26 g sugars#5: Worst Seasonal Coffee DrinkDunkin’ Donuts Iced Gingerbread Latte (large)450 calories12 g fat (7 g saturated)290 mg sodium68 g sugarsThis holiday horror packs a whopping 68 grams of sugar (that’s as much as in three and a half Twinkies!) and almost a quarter of your daily calories. (Hope you weren’t planning to eat much today.) To enjoy the same chilly gingerbread coffee flavor, simply swap the latte for iced coffee and drop down a size. Suddenly, you’re looking at nearly half as much sugar and a far more digestible 270 calories. (For more great tips like these, sign up for the Eat This, Not That! newsletter—free to your inbox every morning. Also be sure to for up-to-the-second diet and weight loss tips that help you lose weight and feel great—without ever dieting!)Drink This Instead!Iced Gingerbread Coffee with Cream (medium) 270 calories9 g fat (5 g saturated)90 mg sodium36 g sugars#4: Worst Caramel-Flavored Coffee DrinkMcDonalds Caramel Latte with Whole Milk (large)330 calories9 g fat (5 g saturated)210 mg sodium51 g sugarsThis caramel confection hides an unhealthy dose of sugar and an unnecessary amount of calories. But don’t blame the caramel flavoring entirely. Choose the flavored cappuccino instead for a fat-free, lower-calorie, lower-sugar alternative that will hit your sweet spot just the same. When given the choice, always opt for a cappuccino over a latte—they’re made with less milk than lattes, which means they’re lighter, with fewer calories. Drink This Instead!Caramel Cappuccino with Skim Milk (medium)190 calories0 g fat150 mg sodium41 g sugars
Bonus Tip: Sure, restaurants are turning their drinks into calorie-dense desserts. And you should see what they’re doing with their apps and entrees. Don’t miss—and don’t go near—these 20 Scariest Food Creations of 2010!#3: Worst “Arctic” Coffee DrinkCosi Double Oh! Arctic Mocha (12 oz)434 calories22 g fat (13 g saturated)241 mg sodium46 g sugarsThis drink’s deliciousness is no excuse for its queasy dietary overload: as many calories as you’ll find in nine Chicken McNuggets, as much sugar as in three and a half bowls of Froot Loops, and as much saturated fat as in 13 strips of bacon. Get the same great taste with a quarter of the fat and 245 fewer calories by opting for an arctic latte instead. No need for all that superfluous chocolate—the latte is just as delicious without the extra baggage.
Drink This Instead!Arctic Latte (12 oz)189 calories5 g fat (3 g saturated)124 mg sodium34 g sugars
Bonus Tip: Coffee drinks aren’t the only ones hiding waist-stretching stealth calories; check out this shocking list of the 20 worst drinks in America.#2: Worst Hot Chocolate DrinkStarbucks White Hot Chocolate with Whole Milk and Whipped Cream (venti)640 calories28 g fat (19 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)330 mg sodium60 g sugarsNo one orders a hot chocolate and expects it to be anything but a dessert-like beverage. And certainly you should enjoy the occasional indulgence. But other times try this: Go with 2% milk and shave 50 calories. Cut the whip and trim another 70. Downsize to a grande and shed 120 more. Or swap to a cinnamon dulce latte, and cut out hundreds of calories while still indulging in a deliciously sweet treat!Drink This Instead!Cinnamon Dulce Latte (grande)210 calories0 g fat135 mg sodium39 g sugars
Bonus Tip: A quick way to save a ton of money each year: Make your own coffee. To discover the best packaged coffee in America, and every other all-star food by category, check out our definitive list of the 125 Best Supermarket Foods.#1: The Worst Coffee Drink in AmericaCold Stone Creamery Lotta Caramel Latte, Gotta Have It Size1,790 calories99 g fat (62 g saturated, 2.5 g trans)175 g sugars
It may be coffee-flavored, but this latte shake is virtually unrecognizable next to your typical morning cup of Joe. It’s simply a giant dessert drink disaster. This large shake has nearly a full day’s worth of calories, as much saturated fat as you’ll find in 62 strips of bacon, and you’ll exceed your daily limit of trans fats in the few minutes it takes you to drink it. Oh, did I mention the ridiculous sugar load? (44 spoonfuls!) If you want a sweet, caramel latte taste, opt for the actual caramel latte at Cold Stone, not the shake. You’ll cut more than 1,500 calories from your order!
Drink This Instead!Lite Milk Caramel Latte, Love it Size250 calories2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated)34 g sugars
Bonus tip: Always pair your morning coffee with a healthy breakfast. Why? Find the answer, and a bunch of other genius health secrets, right here: Dr. Oz’s Favorite (and Greatest) Health Tips!
EAT RIGHT RULE: If your food can go bad, it’s good for you. If it can’t go bad, it’s bad for you. and get FREE health, nutrition and weight-loss secrets like this one every day!