Most people enjoy a cup of coffee first thing in the morning because it helps energize them. Coffee has become a staple of the human experience worldwide, with many countries creating pseudo-cultures based on it. Despite the growing culture around coffee and the number of coffee shops available, there are other concerns about coffee consumption.
Most concerns are health-related, but others are more concerned about ensuring their coffee consumption does not negatively affect their weight management routine. Several techniques people employ to manage their weight have varying degrees of success. One of the more common tools is calorie counting, which allows people to determine how much they should eat concerning their daily caloric intake.
Calorie counting can be very effective for people trying to limit their intake of certain foods that are bad for them. Unfortunately, calorie-counting diets often require us to give up certain snacks and meals that are high in calories but low in nutrients. The concern some people have when engaging in a calorie-counting lifestyle is that they will have to dial back their coffee intake.
With so many coffee shops in America, it can be easy to drink your calories away with various drinks. Because of the high caloric value associated with these drinks, some have begun to wonder if black coffee is just as bad as the drinks from Starbucks. Knowing whether you have to track the calories of black coffee is essential.
What is Black Coffee?
The term "black coffee" is tossed around fairly casually in the world of breakfast drinks, though not everyone fully understands it. Black coffee is often viewed as "bitter coffee" by the common drinker, and they are not wrong. Black coffee is any coffee not served with sugar or creamer and retains its natural flavor.
Unfortunately, the flavor of black coffee is not for everyone since it can be extremely bitter. The strength of the coffee's bitter flavor is tied to the coffee beans' grind and origin, with certain grinds having a slightly less intense flavor. Nevertheless, black coffee retains an extremely potent flavor that is difficult for many to enjoy, especially if they are fond of sweeter flavors. Regardless of whether you are drinking black coffee or sweetened coffee, the beans used in the brew come from the Coffea plant.
The beans of the Coffea plant might retain a bitter flavor, but the overall profile varies depending on the location where the plant grew. Even the soil composition from which the plant grows can affect the beans' properties and alter the flavor profile. All variations of coffee beans retain the properties that have turned coffee into a popular drink, including the caffeine many crave.
The only difference between black coffee and sweeter drinks is the added ingredients that modify the flavor. This brings us to the question of the caloric value of black coffee and whether it needs to be tracked when trying to stay within a set daily intake.
Does Black Coffee Have Zero Calories?
People who employ calories to manage their weight use food and drinks that have no calories to keep themselves satiated between meals. While no foods have no calories, most fruits and vegetables have minimal calories, making them inconsequential to your daily intake. Regarding beverages, the general rule for calorie counters is to "not drink your calories." This rule means that the calories we consume should be dedicated to nutritional foods rather than sugary soft drinks.
Insofar as coffee is concerned, black coffee is a non-issue for calorie counters, but to say it has no calories would be false. Black coffee has a maximum of 5 calories per cup, making the overall calorie count negligible to even the strictest calorie counter. The important detail is that the calories in a cup of black coffee do not contain any fat, making it a nutritional drink.
Coffee only gains more calories when people add extras to the drink to modify the flavor to their preference. Added ingredients like sugar, cream, and milk can radically increase the calorie count in your coffee if you do not exercise caution.
On average, a cup of coffee's calories can be increased in the following ways:
- Sugar: Sugar is one of the most common additions to coffee and presents one of the lowest caloric increases. A teaspoon of sugar (4 grams) adds 16 calories to a cup of coffee.
- Fat-Free Milk: People believe that fat-free milk is healthier than whole milk, but the fat in dairy is good for us. Nevertheless, adding 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of fat-free milk adds 10 calories to a cup of coffee.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Heavy whipping cream is one of the least common additions to coffee, but it is used. Two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream add 101 calories to a cup of coffee.
- Half-and-Half: Half-and-half is a creamer often stocked in diners and restaurants to help customers modify their coffee. Despite the name, half-and-half is not negligible since 2 tablespoons increase your coffee's calorie count by 37.
Even using the additives with the lowest caloric value can cause your morning coffee's calorie count to jump from 5 to 31. While 31 calories is not a large value, the added fat and sugars from these additives detract from the coffee's nutritional value.
This is not to say you cannot enjoy sweetened coffee, but that you should do so in moderation if you do not want to consume empty calories. Black coffee might have almost no calories, but the calories added by sugar and creamer are outright unhealthy since calories are not created equal. Understanding how calories work on a fundamental level is crucial if you intend to use calories to manage your diet.
How Do Calories Work?
Counting calories will only take you so far since a calorie comprises several nutrients that determine the effect it has on you. Many people misunderstand calories and believe that your weight and health are under control as long as you stay within your daily limit. They overlook that the nutrients that contribute to the caloric value can skew the impact on your health.
We need calories to fuel our bodies since they provide the nutrients our bodies use to create glucose. Our bodies break down glucose to produce energy so that we can perform basic functions. Certain biological factors dictate how many calories we need daily to ensure we have the necessary energy to fuel our bodies.
Typically, our height, age, weight, and sex determine our daily caloric intake, but individual details can change the amount. The level of biological variance means you might need more calories than someone of the same age, sex, height, and weight as you due to a significant biological difference between you.
On average, men must consume approximately 2,500 calories daily, while women usually need 2,000. However, these values are general guidelines that must be compared to your needs. The caloric intake we are prescribed is calculated using foods that provide essential nutrients, meaning they do not factor fast food or processed snacks into the equation. The reason is that most of the processed treats we enjoy are packed with empty calories and cannot be used to nourish our bodies.
Foods with large quantities of sugar and unhealthy fats have empty calories, meaning the caloric number is high, but the overall nutrition is almost non-existent. For example, a Whopper from the Burger King chain of fast-food restaurants has 679 calories per sandwich. The problem is that non-nutritional values fuel the majority of those calories:
- Fat: 39.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 12.1 g
- Trans Fat: 0.2 g
- Cholesterol: 85.1 mg
- Sodium: 1,173.9 mg
- Carbohydrates: 54.8 g
- Fiber: 3.9 g
- Sugar: 14.5 g
- Proteins: 34.7 g
Most of a Whopper's nutritional value is derived from fat, carbohydrates, and sodium. These 3 values are the ones you want to keep low in anything you eat since overconsuming them can cause health issues. This is the case for most fast-food items, but the affordability and convenience of these restaurants make them a common stop.
Even people who count calories can be deceived into believing their favorite drive-thru offers sustainable options for their diet. While a caloric value of 679 seems manageable with a 2,000-calorie average, the poor nutritional value means the consumer will be hungry again and have fewer calories to devote to viable food.
You might wonder how this relates to black coffee, which has almost no calories without added ingredients. As we mentioned before, the sugar and creamers available for coffee are full of these empty nutrients that make the added calories a poor addition to your diet. The best choice for coffee is to keep it black and not add sweeteners that might saturate it with empty calories. This tactic is only necessary if you drink coffee regularly. If you only drink coffee occasionally, you can probably get away with adding sweeteners to improve the flavor. If you intend to add sugar or sweeteners to your coffee, you should look at the next section.
Should You Track Coffee Consumption?
Tracking calories is only necessary for food and drinks with high caloric values, though you should track the nutritional values instead. Since black coffee only consists of 5 calories at most, it is not worth tracking unless you add sweeteners or creamers. If you do, it is no longer black coffee because it is not pure Coffea beans.
Regardless, tracking black coffee is ultimately unnecessary in most cases because of its low caloric impact. This might seem like the end of coffee's role in your weight management efforts, but another detail must be considered. Oddly enough, black coffee might be more beneficial than you realize concerning weight loss. Most people drink coffee to get an energy boost from the caffeine to help them stay awake. The caffeine in coffee can enhance our metabolism, allowing us to break down fat and calories more effectively.
Coffee has been linked to weight management because of its caffeine content, but using caffeine for weight loss has limitations. A review of 12 studies determined that coffee consumption was linked to reduced body fat in men. Another study showed similar results for women. The problem is that the metabolic boost from caffeine is only temporary and will yield diminishing returns the longer we rely on it.
Fortunately, caffeine also helps energize us for physical activity, making it easier to follow an existing exercise regimen. A study found that subjects who drank between 1 and 2 cups of coffee daily had a 17% higher chance of meeting physical activity levels. This means caffeine can be used to yield better weight loss results without relying on metabolic alteration.
Some companies manufacture specialized coffee designed to capitalize on the weight loss benefits associated with caffeine. Finding such a product can be challenging, but they do exist, and they can reinforce coffee's benefits.
Keep it All Natural!
Black coffee can be a nutritious and effective way to start the day, though you should not overindulge. Regardless, black coffee has an almost negligible calorie count, making it highly sustainable for anyone trying to monitor their caloric intake. Unfortunately, most coffee shops specialize in creating sugary beverages to make the drink more palatable. Many still offer black coffee, but the best source will be the kind you brew at home. If you are trying to take advantage of coffee's weight loss benefits, you might find there is a little more variety.
We at Bella All Natural know how difficult it can be to stick with your weight loss plan, especially with so many temptations. That is why we have created our Skinny Hot Coffee, which brings all the benefits of black coffee in a convenient package. Our product is optimized to help jumpstart your metabolism and energizes you throughout the day with a tasty coffee you can easily brew at home. We have always maintained that the best solutions originate in nature. So, we encourage you to visit our website and peruse our natural health and beauty product catalog. Regardless of your choice, remember always to keep it All Natural!