Despite some forms of public perception, coffee is actually a pretty healthy beverage when prepared the right way. Really, it all depends on what you think of when you see the word coffee.
If your idea of coffee is the latest Starbucks trend with more milk, sugar, syrup, and whipped cream than actual coffee, well, nothing you add to that is going to help you lose weight. There are so many calories packed in all that sugar and cream that you're better off not drinking it at all.
On the other hand, if your idea of coffee is a pitch-black liquid straight from a Keurig, now we're talking. Plain old coffee is actually pretty similar to tea, just with a bean instead of a leaf. It's still a flavored water beverage, with the benefits of that flavoring coming through.
Natural coffee has zero calories. It has no natural sugar, no natural fat, and nothing to give it any sort of caloric intake. Meanwhile, it's full of some nutrients and chemicals that have health benefits science is still discovering to this day.
- The caffeine content in coffee is known to improve energy, focus, memory, mood, and mental function. It's also a stimulant, so it can help you lose weight, albeit not very quickly.
- A typical cup of coffee has a range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B2, B3, and B5, plus manganese, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are important to various bodily functions.
- Though the specific mechanism is unknown, studies have shown that people who drink coffee have a significantly lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes than people who don't drink coffee daily.
- Other studies have shown that people who drink coffee are much less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and dementia, though again, the reason for this is currently unknown.
- Coffee somehow protects the liver. People who drink four or more cups of coffee per day have up to 80% lower risk of liver cirrhosis than other people. This may even extend to protecting the liver against cancer.
- Coffee is also packed with antioxidants, more so than pretty much any standard part of the western diet. Some people now call it one of the healthiest beverages in the world.
With all of these benefits, there's no surprise that people want to start using coffee as a vector for weight loss. You already have a good start; it's a way to sate some hunger cravings with flavor, without saturating your system with calories, carbs, or fat.
We've listed a series of different things you can add to coffee to help you lose weight. Fair warning, though; most of them are just for flavor. Straight black coffee can be hard to drink if you're not used to it. Smoothing out the flavor in a way that doesn't require adding milk or sugar is a good way to help build up the habit.
Of course, many of these flavorings have some health benefits of their own. Whether or not it's meaningful in the small amount you'd add to coffee is hard to say, but it's not entirely worthless. If nothing else, those spices and additives give you more vitamins and minerals in your coffee.
So let's get started! Here are fifteen things you can add to your coffee, together or in rotation, to help make your drink taste better and stimulate you to lose weight.
Cardamom is a spice commonly used in middle eastern recipes, but it's growing more common throughout the world. A relative of ginger, these pods are ground into a delicious spice that adds a whole new depth of flavor to your coffee.
What does it do? It helps calm down the edge of caffeine, but it also adds some fiber, minerals, and even some compounds that have the potential to stall out cancer. It can also help circulation and cholesterol. It's not completely free of calories, but you should only add a pinch or two anyway.
Everyone knows cinnamon. It's such a common spice in everything from sweet to savory dishes, desserts, and treats that you're probably eating some every day as it is. There are even different kinds of cinnamon, though as related plants, they have similar benefits.
What are those benefits? Cinnamon is a great antioxidant for one thing, among the best of all spices. It can reduce inflammation, help lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and even has some fat burning properties. Plus it tastes great, so adding a bit of it to your coffee can give you a smooth, slightly spicy taste.
Real vanilla is a potent flavor, and not at all like what you find in cheap "vanilla" ice cream and other neutral cream-based treats. It's a potent flavor and it's very common as an additive to coffee, though it's usually coupled with cream. Adding a little bit of vanilla extract, or a vanilla bean directly to the pot, helps infuse the flavor into your beverage.
The benefits of vanilla are wide-reaching. It's often considered a cognitive superfood, with the ability to boost mood, brain health, and mental performance. It can also help calm down stomach turmoil, which you might have if you're drinking coffee and exercising with little else in your stomach.
Ginger is an interesting spice because you can get it both fresh and dried and ground, and both options have different kinds of flavors. Fresh ginger is almost fruity, with a bit of a spicy kick to it. Ground ginger is more earthy, and dissolves better in coffee. You can use either; a pinch or two of ground ginger in your coffee, or a couple of slices of fresh root added to the pot.
Ginger helps calm the stomach more than vanilla, and it has benefits for reducing gas and bloating. Additionally, it has some natural pain relief benefits to help soothe a sore throat, and it can reduce inflammation throughout the body to ease arthritis pain and other aches.
Peppermint mocha is a favorite seasonal coffee flavor, but we're not going to be making a fancy cream-and-sugar filled beverage today. Instead, turn to a mint extract to add just a kick of the cooling herb to your coffee. Peppermint is the usual favorite, but you can also try spearmint for a slightly different variant on the same great taste.
Peppermint has a wide range of beneficial effects, largely because of the vitamins and minerals present in the herb. You get vitamins A and C, iron, magnesium, and calcium in peppermint oil. Just be careful with it! Pure peppermint oil can be very caustic and can burn your skin.
Obviously, chocolate and coffee go together like two beans in a pod. Cocoa has a bit of natural caffeine itself, so it augments the energy benefits of coffee while giving it a smoother, more familiar flavor. You can add some cocoa powder to your coffee directly, though we recommend getting some of the high quality stuff, not your grocery store Hershey's.
Cocoa has flavanols that help with a variety of potential health concerns. They increase circulation and help with cardiovascular diseases, and they also have some anti-inflammatory properties.
Love it or hate it, cayenne can be a great additive to your morning coffee. Use caution if you're not a fan of spice, though; it can be quite a kick. You don't need both temperature heat and chemical heat overlapping to burn your mouth!
Cayenne's active ingredient is capsaicin, which helps your body burn more energy. There's some evidence that suggests it also has benefits for blood pressure, diabetes, and ulcers.
The bright orange-yellow root that ground into the turmeric spice is quickly becoming one of the world's foremost health crazes. It's even been called "the most effective nutritional supplement in existence". Turmeric can be added to food and drink, and in coffee, it's delicious.
The benefits of turmeric are too numerous and varied to list here. Suffice to say that it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it boosts brain function, it lowers the risk of heart disease, and it has beneficial effects on arthritis and other pains.
9. Garcinia Cambogia
Unlike most of the other flavor-medicines on this list, garcinia cambogia comes from a fruit. The active ingredient is actually in the rind, and it's hydroxycitric acid, or HCA. What does it do? Studies seem to suggest that it actually blocks the body's ability to form new fat from the energy you're consuming.
Now, this chemical on its own isn't going to help you with weight loss, per se. Rather, it's more likely to help you minimize additional weight gain. You still need to cut calories and exercise to experience the losses you want to see.
10. Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract is, as you might assume, a concentrated form of green tea. Since green tea itself is a very healthy beverage, and the tea leaves are packed with benefits, it makes sense that green tea extract is a great additive for coffee.
The extract, when added to coffee, gives you a big boost to antioxidants. It also has a range of catechins, which are a chemical that assists with weight loss. And, of course, green tea extract is high in caffeine, so you're doubling up on that chemical as well.
11. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is probably one of the least "healthy" options on this list, but that's because it's an actual chocolate product, not just a spice. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and has the ability to boost brain power, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure.
You want at least 72% dark chocolate for this. If you're a fan of bitter flavors, you can go as much as 90, though the combination of coffee and chocolate might be a bit too bitter for some people.
12. Coconut Milk
Some people want the rich, creamy goodness of milk in their coffee, but they still want to lose weight. Milk adds a lot of calories, but coconut milk can give you some of the same richness without the same amount of calories.
That said, coconut milk is still pretty high in fat, so be aware of what's in it when you use it in your coffee. We like it as a base creamer, to help mellow out all of the rest of these spices and make a more filling coffee beverage.
13. Almond Milk
If you don't have or don't like coconut milk, almond milk is another substitute that can work very well.
Almonds have a certain kind of rich, nutty aftertaste, which goes well with coffee and helps smooth out the overall flavor without cutting it too much. Almost milk is still pretty low calorie, though again, it's a creamy, fatty kind of additive so it won't be perfectly empty the way pure coffee is.
14. Ghee and MCT
Ghee is a form of clarified butter, which means it's basically full fat. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, and is basically a kind of oil, typically coconut oil. Combined, the two of these add a ton of fat to coffee.
Why would you want to do this? Well, if you're trying to lose weight, one thing you might be trying is the ketogenic diet. As long as you aren't eating carbs, the fat isn't going to do much to you. It nourishes you and keeps your body actively burning energy. This kind of keto coffee is very strong, though, and can be an acquired taste.
At the end of the day, blank, plain black coffee is a very powerful tool for weight loss. It's empty, giving you energy with zero calories. That energy has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is burning the energy stores already in your system. Combine it with a good workout routine and you can drop pounds like nobody's business.