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July 25, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Indulge in Iced Coffee - Even on a Diet!

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

So you need a caffeine fix in the morning and the hot weather is steering you toward iced coffee. Still, you're worried about the calorie count.Worry not! You CAN enjoy your iced coffee - even on a diet!

Coffee in itself packs less than 5 calories per cup, offering a nearly calorie-free option for those of us monitoring our energy intake. You can create a summery version simply by stirring in a handful of ice cubes to chill your cup of Joe (the more ice the better!).  If this is the iced coffee you are referring to, indulge away. The only word of caution here is to make sure caffeine is safe for you as it may cause headaches or anxiety and is certainly not recommended for everyone, including pregnant women and those on certain medications.

Where weight gain may come into play is if you are sipping on specialty coffees.

Today’s baristas are brewing up special treats loaded with sugary syrups, whipped cream, whole milk, shaved chocolate and more – all contributing to a calorie-rich, nutrient-poor, concoction. You may be surprised to learn that a tall (the small size at most coffee shops) white chocolate mocha frappuccino delivers nearly 400 calories – the amount many have for their entire breakfast! If you opt for one of the more commonly enjoyed large sizes for your specialty drink you will quickly break the calorie bank with nearly 1,000 calories.

All of these added calories add up as it only takes an extra 500 calories each day to gain a pound in a single week. There are several small changes you can make to make sure you are ordering up the best iced coffee for you, without the worry of weight gain.

Tips for Your Local Coffee Shop

Here are a few tips for your next trip to your local coffee shop:

  • Request a skinny version of your favorite drink. This catchy term simply indicates that you would like to have your drink made with fat-free milk.
  • Smaller the better. By opting for a smaller size, you are immediately trimming your calorie intake. You can certainly still enjoy your favorite treats in life, what it comes down to is portion control.
  • Skip the whip. Skipping the whipped cream may shave nearly 100 calories, while still leaving a tasty morning beverage behind.
  • Pimp the pump. I have found that my favorite specialty coffees have several more pumps of syrup than I need. In fact, often the drink is too sweet for my taste-buds and has even resulted in a stomach ache. You may find 1 or 2 pumps may be all that you need.
  • Go sugar free. Most of the syrups being used have a sugar-free alternative available and by opting for the sugar-free version you will save roughly 20 calories per pump. Of course, the artificial sweeteners replacing the sugar in sugar-free version are not for everyone.
  • Lighten up your latte. A latte (coffee with steamed milk) is a great way to add in a great source of nutrients, especially as coffee has been linked with calcium loss. However, if you are adding this drink on top of an already calorie-laden breakfast I suggest asking for a lesser milk to coffee ratio. Rather than ordering your latte with a 50/50 blend, ask for merely ¼ milk and ¾ coffee, this way you are able to cut calories while still reaping the benefits of the added nutrition.

The Iced Coffee Drinks This Nutritionist Orders

If you are curious what I order as a dietitian, read on for a few of the healthier options:

  • Iced Café Americano with steamed soy milk. This is my all-time favorite, hot or cold. I prefer a Café Americano over typical brewed coffee as it seems easier on my sensitive digestive system. Americano is simply espresso with added water to dilute the strength. I enjoy this treat with a splash of steamed vanilla soy milk as it helps to cut the acidity while adding a bit of nutrient-rich sweetness.
  • Dunkin Donuts Iced Skim Latte. A 16 fluid ounce serving will only set you back 70 calories and as their coffee has the highest customer loyalty in the US, this is a great option!
  • McDonald’s Iced Nonfat Latte with Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup. While I do not actually frequent McD’s myself, this option is a nice treat for those of you with an incredible sweet tooth as it delivers merely 40 calories for a 12 fluid ounce serving.

For less than 100 calories you can enjoy a simple cup of iced coffee with skim milk. Certainly a tasty (and waist friendly) option for those of you craving a caffeinated treat on these steamy summery mornings!


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  • I love my Ice Coffee during the summer, although I do like the whip cream too....I just order a coffee, with ice, with half n half and Whip Cream, no added sugar or syrups.....I have to work on eliminating the Whip Cream...UGH!

  • Sounds delicious, Victoria! Both the half 'n half & whip cream can quickly add up, but if added in moderation... and truly savored, I think you are just fine :)

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