If you’re like most people, a freshly brewed cup of coffee is a standard part of your morning wake-up routine. But what many people don’t realize is that caffeinated coffee can contribute to weight gain, depending on how you take it and how often you drink it. Coffee add-ons like cream, sugar, and other flavorings can supply saturated fat and empty calories. And for some people with type 2 diabetes, too much caffeine may have an effect on insulin and cause a small but detectable rise in blood sugar, which can result in hunger and cravings.
How can you keep your coffee South Beach Diet–friendly? Try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 cups of caffeinated coffee a day (this amount won’t have a significant effect on blood-sugar levels), and opt for sugar substitutes and sugar-free and fat-free creamers if you like it sweet and light. Beware of specialty coffees from cafés and coffee shops, which are often made with sugary syrups or other flavorings that can stall your weight-loss efforts. Your best bet: Prepare your coffee at home, so you know exactly what’s in it. Here are more ways to take your cup of joe on the Beach:
If you enjoy flavored coffee . . . Most flavored coffee gets that flavor from extracts or spices that have been added to the beans during roasting. These flavored beans have negligible amounts of sugar added. Be careful at coffee shops though: Many use sugary syrups to flavor their coffees. If you want a flavoring, opt for one with no-sugar-added like hazelnut or vanilla but count it toward your daily Sweet Treat limit of 75 to 100 calories. If you’re following the South Beach Diet Gluten Solution Program, be aware that some varieties of flavored instant coffee and some brands of flavored regular coffee contain gluten in the flavoring base.
If you enjoy your coffee with milk . . . Choose fat-free (skim) or 1% milk, unsweetened coconut milk beverage, unsweetened almond milk, or 2 tablespoons of fat-free half-and-half. Avoid 2% and full-fat milk as well as regular half-and-half. Remember to count the amount of milk you use in your coffee toward your daily serving of dairy; you can enjoy up to 2 cups on Phase 1 and up to 3 cups on Phase 2 each day.
If you enjoy your coffee with cream . . . Opt for sugar-free and fat-free varieties (with no more than 2 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons) and limit your intake to 2 tablespoons per day.
If you enjoy your coffee with sugar . . . Choose a natural or artificial sugar substitute rather than regular sugar. Most are calorie free except for agave nectar, which should be limited to 1 tablespoon maximum daily (since it’s 1.5 times sweeter than sugar you’ll need a lot less than that in your coffee!).
sugar-substitute options include:
- Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
- Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Stevia and stevia products (Truvía)
- Agave nectar
- Monk fruit natural no-calorie sweetener (Monk Fruit in the Raw, Nectresse)
If you prefer decaf . . . One to 2 cups of decaffeinated coffee or decaffeinated, no-sugar-added flavored coffee can be enjoyed on all Phases of the South Beach Diet. And because there’s only a little caffeine in them, you don’t have to limit yourself. The same guidelines for milk, creamers, and sugar substitutes described above apply for decaffeinated coffee as well.