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Is Coffee Itself Packed with Calories, or Just Everything Else I’m Putting in There?

If you could just leave the beans alone, your coffee might actually help you lose weight

If you think of coffee as a high-calorie contributor to your daily nutrition plan, I’ve got some shocking news for you: Coffee is essentially a zero-calorie beverage. In fact, the amount of coffee you would have to drink in order to gain significant weight as a result of its calories alone (literally hundreds of cups full) would actually kill you in several different ways, including the toxic levels of caffeine you’d imbibed, and the intoxication brought on by the liters of liquid you’d quaffed.

So, no, coffee is not making you gain weight… at least not without considerable help. When weight gain is concerned, it’s never about the coffee itself; it’s how you take it

I don’t understand. I’d swear I only gained weight after I started drinking coffee!


Okay, remember how Adele credited her weight loss to her decision to forego her routine of downing 10 cups of tea per day? It certainly wasn’t the constant consumption of a zero-calorie beverage that was keeping Adele heavier than she wanted to be. Instead, it was the fact that each cup of tea had “two sugars” added to it. Depending on the definition of “two sugars” — which could mean anything from two packets to two tablespoons — Adele could have been adding anywhere from 300 to 2,000 empty calories to her daily diet.

If you substitute coffee for tea in Adele’s case, you’ll probably end up with the exact same result, except people are far less likely to place creamer in tea than they are in coffee (even though there are some people trying to promote that particular practice). Coffee creamer is whole ‘nother story, inasmuch as it creates another choice opportunity to transform your coffee into a sweet bowl of soup. Being too heavy-handed with the creamer will top off each cup of your favorite home brew with an additional 35 to 140 calories in the blink of an eye. 

Or maybe you’re one of those people who throws caution to the wind, abandons all pretense, calls a spade a spade and quits pretending their coffee is anything other than a dessert. You decide to stir in special syrups filled with sugar, creamer and caramel, and then top it off with whipped cream, more caramel and some special sprinkles for good measure. Good luck getting out of it without adding at least 300 calories to your daily intake.

Okay! We get it! No more dessert coffees! Stop trying to make us feel stupid! 

No one is trying to make you feel stupid. It’s just that there’s nothing ingrained within coffee grains that can cause you to gain weight in and of itself, unless the lack of sleep brought about by over-caffeination causes you to indirectly engage in behaviors that further exacerbate some of your unhelpful dietary habits. If anything, in a very underrated sense, coffee is well-known for its ability to help people lose weight, albeit on a short-term, far-from-permanent basis. 

First of all, caffeine is a diuretic, and will cause you to take bladder-emptying excursions to the bathroom more frequently than usual. Coffee is also notorious for its colon-tickling properties, resulting in predictable bowel movements for those who partake in it. While the caffeine in coffee has been commonly credited for prompting the number-two train, even decaffeinated coffee has proven to be capable of taking you to Brownsville. Finally, coffee increases your metabolic rate, which results in your body burning more calories at rest. 

So again, all things considered, the natural components of coffee actually align to help you lose weight rather than gain it. 

This is incredible! I can’t believe I was blaming everything on the coffee!

Always remember to think of your coffee as an oceangoing vessel. On its own, coffee is a neutral transportation mechanism. The damage is only done once you load that vessel up with a bunch of illicit cargo — in the form of unhealthy calories — and smuggle a bunch of contraband into the port, which in this case is your body. If you consider this as less of a naval reference and more of a navel reference, you won’t have any problems making healthier choices when it comes to the contents of your coffee.