Coffee: since 54% of Americans over the age of 18 (1) drink this delicious beverage on a daily basis, some education on making coffee healthier is in order.
Unfortunately, a large majority of coffee drinkers are continually adding to their waistlines by drinking popular coffee store versions – which are typically loaded with tons of extra calories and sugar.
If consumed properly, coffee can actually aid in weight loss, so it makes sense to avoid the artificial creations made in stores. Or, if you still really need to get your coffee from a retail store, you can learn just how to make that cup work for you – instead of against you.
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With 70% of the United States now overweight, and 30% obese (2), these simple coffee tricks could be the key factor in helping you shed those unwanted pounds. So read on to discover nine great (and easy) ways to make your coffee healthier!
1. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners And Refined Sugar
This trick may seem obvious, but you would be shocked to learn just how many popular versions of coffee are loaded with artificial sweeteners and refined sugar. For example, a chai tea latte (found at a popular coffee store that shall not be named) has 15 more grams of sugar than a Snickers bar does! Even less obvious versions of sweetened coffee may be packed with artificial sweeteners or extra sugar. A salted caramel mocha (again, found at an unnamed coffee chain) hits your bloodstream with a whopping 56 grams (!) of sugar.
To put this in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends that adults consume 25 grams (or less) of sugar per day. One daily unhealthy choice when it comes to coffee, and you can say hello to 5 or 10 extra pounds in a month or two. To give you another example, a typical Frappuccino can weigh in at 66 grams of sugar – yikes. Drinking coffee black is a simple way to avoid all of these issues, but I will also give you some extra delicious tips to help spice things up.
If you can’t go completely black with your coffee, try adding a small amount of stevia. While not 100% perfect, this choice is certainly better than consuming the artificial sweeteners and refined sugar which are usually found in most cups. Coconut sugar or organic maple syrup can also be used, but the real key here is adding a very small amount. Don’t go overboard!
2. Avoid Artificial Creamers
Almost as bad as artificial sweeteners, artificial creamers are packed with a wide array of things you don’t want to put in your body on a daily basis. What exactly do you want to avoid here? Well, a large assortment of artificial creamers are made with corn syrup solids and hydrogenated oils (trans fats). Major yikes.
You can improve your coffee by adding real cream. This means organic and grass-fed. Cream like this can be purchased at all major health food stores, and will give you the health benefits of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). There is also usually a nice amount of vitamin K2 present in full-fat cream. This is important because adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been linked with lower rates of cancer and heart disease. Full-fat cream has even been linked to more successful weight loss.
3. Use Filtered Water and Organic Beans
Coffee is 99% water. While this may seem obvious, we often don’t take into account the quality of that water when brewing a morning cup. Start with the highest quality ingredients, and you will ensure that best coffee possible. This goes for the beans, too. Always opt for organic, and spend the extra dollars if you have to. Coffee is the most heavily sprayed crop in the world, pesticide-wise, so you really don’t want to go with beans of dubious quality.
4. Add Cinnamon to Coffee
Want to add even more antioxidants to your coffee and control your blood sugar? I thought so. How exactly does one do that? It’s simple: just add a pinch of cinnamon to your cup! Interestingly, cinnamon has a fairly long history of use as both a spice and a medicine. While it can be used at any time of year, it no doubt tastes best during the cold, winter months.
And cinnamon itself has been linked with numerous health benefits. One of the most important is lower blood glucose levels after a meal. And in those with type 2 diabetes, cinnamon has been linked to lower serum glucose levels and an improved lipid profile.
5. Eat Before You Drink Coffee
While many of us start the day with a big cup of coffee, you actually may be lowering your energy levels by doing this. How is this possible? Well, quite simply, your body releases insulin in response to the caffeine found within coffee. This, in turn, causes a major drop in blood sugar, which leaves you feeling depleted and tired. Not a great way to start your day. Munch on a small snack during your morning cup, or even eat right before you drink. Your body will thank you for it.
6. Add Collagen to Coffee
Collagen is prevalent in a well-crafted bone broth, but it also makes a fine addition to coffee. Rich in the amino acid glycine, collagen has also been scientifically studied to help reduce joint pain. Collagen also helps inflammation stay within an appropriate range, and aids in healthy tissue repair.
7. Add Grass-fed Butter to Coffee
The popularity of the Bulletproof Diet is undeniable. But what started the craze was the world-famous Bulletproof Coffee. By simply adding grass-fed butter to black coffee, you will get a nice brain-boosting buzz — as well as all the health benefits of grass-fed butter. Try blending the coffee with a handheld blender or latte frother if you are stuck with globs of butter on top of your coffee.
8. Add Coconut Oil to Coffee
Similar to adding grass-fed butter, coconut oil is loaded with healthy fats, specifically medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs have been linked to improved weight loss in multiple scientific studies. When it comes to brain health, coconut oil may also be largely beneficial. Some studies have examined the potential links between reduction in Alzheimer’s disease rates and daily ingestion of coconut oil.
One UCLA study even famously reversed some symptoms of Alzheimer’s. What was the methodology used? A Paleo diet and lifestyle! Since a typical Paleo diet includes coconut oil, it is wise to add a little bit of this fat to your morning coffee. I personally love the taste of coconut oil in coffee, even though I am typically not a coffee drinker. Yum!
9. Add Cocoa to Coffee
Love hot chocolate? Most of us have delightful memories of consuming this sugary delight in the cold months of winter. But worry not, because you can add some organic, unsweetened cocoa to your coffee, and bring back those warm memories! Cocoa has numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and a lower risk of cancer. Remember, don’t go overboard here. A small teaspoon is more than enough!
Bonus Coffee Tip: Try Brewed Chocolate Or Herbal Coffee
If you are looking for a true alternative to coffee, Choffy is a great one. With a taste richer than hot chocolate, and a brewing experience similar to coffee, this is a great way to lower your caffeine intake. I actually drink Choffy on a fairly regular basis, and don’t worry — Choffy is even Whole30 approved!
Teeccino is another great alternative to regular coffee, as it is herbal and caffeine-free. I often recommend that clients lower their caffeine intake by slowing blending their coffee with increasingly large amounts of Teeccino. They hardly notice the difference by the time they are completely off of caffeine! Truly incredible stuff.
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The Bottom Line
Remember, coffee from popular chains can be loaded with hidden sugars and many other artificial ingredients. Going with black coffee, or making your own, is a much healthier choice. Be sure to use filtered water and organic beans for homemade coffee. If you need a little more spice, try adding grass-fed butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, cocoa or collagen. Remember, healthier coffee doesn’t have to be boring. You can still get your morning caffeine fix – just do it in a more Paleo-friendly way!
(Read This Next: 11 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee)