Here’s Exactly How Many Calories You Add When You Trick Out Your Coffee

Jeans a little tighter than usual? Your morning coffee might be to blame.

If you depend on coffee to wake you up in the morning or keep you going throughout the day, don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, most of the people in America who drink coffee on a regular basis don’t take it black. Instead, roughly two-thirds of java lovers add cream, sugar, or other flavorings to their cup ‘o Joe without considering the possible health impact.

But come on, a dash of cream never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. “These add-in items are often dense in energy and fat but low in nutritional value,” writes study author Ruopeng An, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, IL.

If you take your coffee black, you don’t have much to worry about in terms of calorie intake. (One cup of coffee contains about 5 calories.) But if you enjoy sprucing up your coffee with a bit of sweetness (and we can’t exactly blame you), you’re likely consuming an extra 69 unnecessary calories each time, the study found. “More than 60 percent of those calories come from sugar, with fat accounting for most of the rest of the extra calories consumed,” Dr. An found. (Get the skinny on these other 100 easy ways to cut 50 calories.)

The calories you don’t count at breakfast

That’s right, you’re actually drinking calories from sugar and fat in your morning coffee. (Especially if you’re guilty of frequenting Starbucks.) “These daily intakes may seem small, but the extra calories every day can add up to extra pounds,” Dr. An says. This is particularly true for anyone who drinks multiple cups per day, most (if not all) days of the week.

Sources
  •  Ruopeng An, PhD, assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
  • Public Health: "Consumption of Coffee and Tea With Add-ins in Relation to Daily Energy, Sugar, and Fat Intake in US Adults, 2001–2012."
  • Journal of Medicinal FoodStevia Rebaudiana Bertoni: A Natural Alternative for Treating Diseases Associated with Metabolic Syndrome.”
Medically reviewed by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RDN, CSSD, on September 02, 2019

Aubrey Almanza is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and King's College London. Her writing has appeared in Prevention, SHAPE, and Reader's Digest, among others. She specializes in data-driven content on topics of wellness, beauty, culture, art, and fashion.