Are you among the thousands of Australians who can’t get going without your morning grind?

“Coffee is now the dominant hot drink in Australia with 2.1 billion cups bought from cafés and other vendors a year,” Oneperth.com.au reports.

It certainly is a life saver, but if you’re watching your weight, it’s not all just kicks and good news. You might be opting for healthy, low-fat meals but that cappuccino at breakfast, coffee with milk at 10am, caffe latté after lunch and iced coffee in the evening are all adding kilojoules that could scupper your weight-control plans.

On its own, coffee has no kilojoules and is packed with healthy antioxidants. In fact, according to dietician Martie de Wet, it could even be considered a better breakfast option than, say, sweetened orange juice. Why? Because it contains far fewer kilojoules.

But just how bad is a double-froth, super-sized mocha latte? And how does it compare with a basic cup of filter?

Coffee calorie cheat sheet


Check out the following coffee crib sheet by dieticians Martie de Wet and Megan Pentz-Kluyts and start making sense of what’s on the menu.

Fat (g) Energy (kJ) Equals
Black coffee Instant or ground coffee with no milk, no sugar 0 g 0 kJ Energy (kJ)
Filter coffee with milk Four parts coffee and one part milk, one spoon sugar 3.32 g 257.2 kJ One tablespoon of light mayonnaise or a teaspoon of cream cheese
Café mocha One part espresso, three parts full-cream milk, two tablespoons cocoa powder and a dollop of cream 14.92 g 1 221.95 kJ One 250 g lasagne or 60 g peanuts and raisins or 45 g chocolate
Iced coffee One part espresso, one part full-cream milk, two tablespoons coffee creamer 18.14 g 1 480.4 kJ One medium-sized chicken pie or 30 g hot chips
Cappuccino One part espresso, one part full-cream milk, one part foamed milk 6.64 g 514.4 kJ Three baby  potatoes with one tablespoon of sour cream or one portion of battered hake
Caffe latté One part espresso, three parts full-cream milk 7g 568 kJ One medium-sized slice of Hawaiian pizza or one medium-sized jam doughnut

Think before you drink


Coffee is a social institution and a big, brewing global addiction. We wake up with espressos, have meetings over macchiatos and kick back with leisurely caffe lattés on a Sunday afternoon.

Most coffee houses and home coffee machines are now adding luscious (but kilojoule-laden) extras such as milk, cream, syrup, chocolate and sprinklings of cocoa powder to their rich and creamy blends.

To make matters worse, many of us have graduated from a single morning pick-me-up cup to multiple refills throughout the day.

Try these easy kilojoule-cutting tactics when making or ordering coffee:

Stick to skinny


When ordering at a coffee bar, ask the barista what kind of milk is available and always opt for low-fat or – even better – skimmed milk if they have it. As you can see, this small change makes a serious difference:

Fat (g) Energy (kJ)
Full-cream milk 250 ml 8.3 643
Low-fat milk 250 ml 4.8 520
Skimmed milk 250 ml 1.3 390

Cut the cream


Choose foam over whipped cream and halve the kilojoule content of your cup. An average three tablespoons of cream contains 481,8 kJ and 10,8 g of fat – that’s more than you’ll find in a whole cup of full-cream milk.

Be sweet-smart


Use sweetener instead of sugar. While sugar contains no fat, just two teaspoons pack 162 kJ and if you’re spooning that much into four cups of coffee a day (the healthy maximum for an adult), that adds up to 648 extra kilojoules.

Downsize


By choosing a smaller cup you get to have your tasty fix and cut the kilojoules. Smaller options may not always be offered by the barista behind the counter, so make a point of asking for one.

Top it off


The chocolate shavings and sprinkles melt away in a second but they add unnecessary kilojoules. Simply ask that they be left off.

Strike a balance


If you can’t do without three caffe lattés a day, give up a slice or two of bread to balance your overall energy intake.

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