If you want to reduce your daily calorie intake without restrictive dieting, consider taking your coffee with little or no sugar - and then savoring it.
Considering that one tablespoon of sugar has 48 calories, some coffee drinkers may use their entire recommended daily allotment of added sugar (100 calories worth for women/150 for men) just in their coffee. But for those who like their coffee sweetened, having it without sugar is easier said than done.
In a new study, researchers from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis tested two interventions to help coffee drinkers reduce their sugar consumption.
They randomly assigned 127 participants to follow one of three approaches for two weeks. In one group, people gradually decreased the amount of sugar they were adding to their coffee, by a little bit per day.
Another group had a lesson in how to drink coffee mindfully, by taking time to focus on the coffee and appreciate it with the senses; the lesson included a coffee tasting introduction, so participants could learn to detect the flavor, acidity, sweetness, mouth-feel and aftertaste of coffee.
The third group went cold-turkey, giving up sweeteners in coffee for two weeks without any strategy.
"Mindful" group most effective for cutting sugar in coffee
The researchers had expected that the gradual-decrease approach would be most effective, but they were wrong.
While participants in all groups significantly reduced their consumption of sugared coffee over six months, the mindfulness group had a larger decrease than the others.
Just one month after the experiment, the mindfulness group drank coffee without sugar more often than those who simply tried to stop, which continued through the six-month follow-up period. The gradual reduction method, on the other hand, was the least effective.
The researchers had expected that most participants would revert back to sugar-laden coffee, yet the mindfulness group persisted in drinking coffee sugar-free.
Both the mindfulness group and “cold turkey” group actually came to enjoy black coffee.
In the end, the mindfulness group had the strongest intentions about reducing sugar in coffee long-term.
Tips to cut calories from your daily brew
Experts also recommend the “Rethink Your Drink” campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends using fat-free or low-fat milk, ordering the smallest size available, skipping whipped cream, and not adding extra flavoring such as sugary vanilla or hazelnut.
Bottom line: Eliminating sugar in coffee is a healthy change that’s feasible and sustainable without sacrificing the pleasure of coffee.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.