Would You Like a Muffin Top With that Coffee?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The mid-afternoon coffee break. For some, it's enjoyment. For others, it's a necessity in order to function until the end of the day. A plain cup of coffee or tea won't break the bank when it comes to calories (less than 10 calories per cup). But the more "fancy" your order becomes, the faster the calories and fat can skyrocket. A recent study looked at what kinds of drinks people opt for during their afternoon visit to the local Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts.

Researchers from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene stood outside of Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts between 2 and 4 p.m., asking patrons for details about their orders as they exited the stores. The results were published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

According to the study, "Approximately two-thirds of purchases at Starbucks and one-fourth of purchases at Dunkin’ Donuts were blended coffee beverages." The average blended coffee contained 239 calories per serving, which ends up being about 12% of a 2,000-calorie diet. Both stores have a wide range of options, depending on your preference and calorie budget. But there are some drinks you probably want to avoid altogether. For example, Starbucks Strawberries and Crème Frappachino Blended Crème (the large size with whipped cream) has 580 calories per serving, and Dunkin' Donuts large Vanilla Bean Coolata has a whopping 860 calories per serving.

So if you're dying for a pick-me-up but don't take your coffee black, what can you do? A few easy ways to save fat and calories would be to get the small size and/or opt for non-fat instead of whole milk. Also check out the nutritional info of your favorite drink before you order, since many places have it available in the store. Then you can decide whether you'd rather drink your calories, or save them for a scoop of ice cream later on. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I'd definitely opt for the dessert.

What do you think?

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I hate coffee. Even the smell of it makes me yuck. Report
I was totally flabbergasted when I found out a Dunkin Donuts pumkin spice muffin had over 600+ calories ! I nearly fainted. I had no idea muffins were soooo high in calorie. It was total sticker shock. No wonder I once weighed over 200 pounds. that's because I routinely ate one or two muffins as a mid morning snack.

These days, I do avoid the pumpkin spice muffin. There is just no way to eat that in moderation. however, I will occasionally have a muffin. I just don't eat them every day anymore.

Now, regarding the coffee... I'm not much of a coffee drinker. I'll have a latte or cappucino once in awhile. these days, I'm more of a tea drinker.

I'm not a coffee-drinker, either, but there are dozens and dozens of varieties of flavored coffee creamer in grocery stores, many low-fat and no sugar added. Wouldn't that be a good alternative, too? Report
My favorite cup of coffee is: steaming hot, black, and strong (I prefer the Starbucks Extra Bold blends) - no flavored coffees for me. When I want a specialty coffee, I order a cappucino--extra hot, made with skim milk. Report
I don't like plain milk, so a nonfat latte is one of the things I use to fill my calcium requirements. I definitely consider the blended drinks milkshakes, and therefore desserts, not something to drink like water. Report
I can't stand coffee. No matter how much sugar and extras you add, it still tastes like....dirt. I don't understand how anyone can drink it!

None for me thanks. I gotta get my energy from sleeping enough and exercising. Report
I love my coffee....just the way it is! Don't add anything to it! Just warm and black. (I knew if I waited long enough someone would find that it is good for you--and now they have!) Save those calories for something I can chew and savor! Report
I have a cup in the mornings. just regular. one cup per day is enough. Report
Thankfully I have never aquired a taste for coffee. I am a tea drinker Report
I love coffee and I agree with the atmosphere at Starbucks is relaxing. I do not drink speciality coffees as much but if I do get a pumpkin spice or peppermint mocha I ask for skim milk, no whip, and less syrup. Takes care of my craving and only 110 calories. Report
My husband and I buy the DD coffee from Sam's club in the big bags and make it at home with splenda and a little splash of half and half. Report
I used to work at Dunkin' Donuts during the summer after high school, and since I worked a pretty boring shift, I often found myself reading all the nutrition information. That definitely has kept me away from all of their selections -- the lowest calorie items were the donuts!! Even if you get a blended drink that uses real coffee and not just flavored syrups (which is only at Starbucks; DD uses a coffee-flavored sugar slurry), about 25-50% of the drink's volume comes from Half and Half! STEER CLEAR!!

I can never go with plain black coffee though, ugh, so I use a 50/50 sugar to splenda ratio to sweeten and soy milk to lighten. Bonus -- flavored coffees require less sugar because they already have other flavors! Report
I never really liked Starbucks, but I love my home made columbian coffee with sugar free sweetener and fat free creamer. YUMMY, Sorry to all the die hard SB fans, It must be that city water they make it with. Report
I am happy we don't have a starbucks in my town because I love their cappacinos. I know they are expensive and fattening but sometimes I just have to have one. Thanks for opening my eyes and letting me know when I go to the city to stay away from there.
When we lived in France for 2 years I noticed that the coffees you get there are really small and don't have a lot of additional cream, milk, syrups etc. So I got used to having just a cafe au lait (which is big by their standards, but still much smaller than a tall latte at Starbucks) and I lost a lot of weight!
Now that we are back in the UK, I find coffee sizes are too big for me and they have so much stuff in them that you can barely taste the coffee. Report
I visit the local DD but only once a wk while my laundry washes @ the laundromat
Even then its a SMALL...everything in moderation! Report
I love Starbuck's, but mostly I love the atmosphere there. They get to know your name and they care, and they allow you to read your books there and they don't mind that. I think that those are the reasons I prefer Starbuck's: the frienly atmosphere. (at least where I go, in Toronto). I never but those "dessert drinks.' That's what they are. Starbuck's has a sugar free "Cinnamon Dolce" syrup, I get a SHORT cup, and a regular coffee, and just ask for the Sugar Free Cinnamon. I don't have to use many calories that way. Then I just enjoy my books and have a normal coffee, and not too much damage. Report
WOW! Didn't realize coffee was so important to some people, thanks for the insite. Now, try ripping that bottle of diet soda out of my hand & you might be history!....(kidding) Report
I make blended coffees with non fat milk at home with a mix from Costco. I can control the size and the calorie content. When buying out I get an iced americano, add non fat milk and a little sweetener and I'm set to go. I'm in the process of losing many pounds that I put on with blended mochas from the espresso stand! Beware! Report
I have tried to end the coffee stand habit but I havent been able to. I was able to cut soda and candy and move to sugar free and fat free lattes but still un needed calories.. Ahg Report
When I lived in Florida I had a 24 hour Dunkin Donuts 1 mile from my house. I was there almost every day. Had to try everything on the menu.
Now I'm in Minnesota and there are none in my area. I never could switch to Starbucks or Caribou.But I'm glad after reading all the nutrition info on coffee shop brews. It makes me think extra cream and sugar doesn't sound so good anymore. Report
I now drink my coffee with skim milk. I love half and half and used to drink a lot of it, but no more. I have to have my coffee in the morning. I tried this morning to do without my coffee and my head was in the clouds and I had a headache. IF I want to be functional I have to have my coffee. I am gradually learning to drink herbal tea to replace regular tea. I love Starbucks coffees but also know they are killers to the daily calories. Part of the reason I am the weight I am is because I love the flavored, high fat, high calorie coffees. Now they are just an indulgence I don't have very often. Report
Personally I don't see any benefit from drinking coffee, and lots of harmful effects caused by the high levels of caffeine. I drink green tea. Report
i love star bucks,and mcdonalds flavor coffees.i drink them all the time i am trying to stop,but i think i am addict to them. Report
I go with iced coffee and some Splenda and a splash of non-fat milk. I avoid the yummy blended drinks 100% Report
I rarely get a cappachino or latte or frappe but I do have my coffee with 1tsp of sun crystals and sugar free vanilla syrup. Report
I guess it's a good thing I don't need coffee to make me perky in the morning. I'm naturally an annoying morning person. Report
I don't drink coffee that much i only drink it once and blue moon or if i need a quick pick me up Report
Specialty coffees (mochas, lattes & such) are special "treats" for me. Only on special occassions & only if I have enough cal's in my daily "bank." I drink my coffee & I drink it black & I try not to have it after lunch... unless it's something special...
Besides, those specialty drinks can really add up (cha-ching!!) Report
I have my coffee at home where I can control it. I add a little Coffeemate if I want it flavored. 60 calories at the most! Report
Don't drink coffee because of the affect on one's breath (don't like talking up close with a coffee drinker!). That said, my favorite ice cream was Ben & Jerry's White Russian! (It's no longer made, sob). So there is some coffee flavor connection for me!

I have gotten the Starbuck's pumpkin nonfat latte (twice) so far. But I found the Pumpkin Smash at Jamba Juice which I would rather have. I wasn't going to buy it again until the nutritional facts were provided, and I just found them under the full menu, creamy treats. Report
Luckily, I like my coffee black or, every once in awhile, with a spoonful of Coffeemate. I treat those fancy Starbucks drinks as exactly what they are: desserts. Report
I work my favorite Starbucks beverage into my meal plan as a snack. I usually order a nonfat latte and use splenda or bring my own stevia. 130 calories for a grande paired with a small piece of fruit or some veggies uses up a snack allotment without blowing the day. I get protien from the nonfat milk and skip the sugary syrups. Report
Fortunately I like my coffee and tea black and unsweetened. I have too many foods I like to eat to waste precious calories on my drinks! Report
I used to drink a lot of coffee, and I like half-and-half in it! So, in an effort to cut calories and caffeine, I limit myself to one cup of coffee in the morning. Then I drink a cup or two of 'Bengal Spice' (Celestial Seasonings) tea with a packet of Splenda in it during the day. It is such a nice treat, and no fat or caffeine! And no deprivation! Report
If I have been good all week (calories, working out, and maybe one other caffeine drink) then on Friday I allow myself a Starbuck's latte as a treat. Yum! However, today I didn't want to sacrifice the 240 calories, so I opted for a regular coffee with skim milk for 24 calories. In moderation or as a reward they can be nice, but everyday is not worth breaking the money or calorie bank. Report
I don't like Starbucks coffee. It's too strong for me. And besides why would I want to pay $4 to $5 per drink? That's insane!!! Too much money and too many calories not to mention causing health issues for many people. Report
I hate flavored coffees, to me they are just not coffee, I drink hot strong black coffee. Report
Wish I had read this sooner. I just got back from StarBucks and ordered a Pumpkin Frappacino with skim milk and coffee in it. Not sure what my calories are. It was my Friday treat. Report
Black coffee irritates my stomach. I take my coffee with skim milk and no sugar. In my opinion, its a healthy drink. Report
I love both coffee and tea but I only use skim milk for both. When I do go to DD or Starbucks for my tea lattes I always specifiy no syrup no whipp anything just skim milk and tea/coffee. They hate that I say it 2-3 times, but I don't want the added sugar! Report
I'm a tea drinker and I take it black. Report
I can't drink coffee black - I like it flavored. So at Starbucks, I always say NONFAT first, then my chai tea latte is a little lighter. At home, I can control the calories that go into my coffee by using only a small amound of flavored creamer - and they make nonfat varieties of that too! Report
At home and work I drink my coffee black. If I want a treat I stop at Caribou and get the Northern Lite Latte with skim milk and sugar free syrup (125 calories). Report
I usually order a frappucino light in the mornings and seldom do I eat a donut or muffin when I got to Starbucks. I also ask them to hold the whipped cream to reduce the calories as well. Report
One of the things I have done on my journey to get healthy is to limit my coffee consumption to 2 cups only in the morning, and switched from flavored coffeemate to skim milk. I have a wonderful coffeemaker that grinds and brews, and I've figured out how to make coffee that is almost as good as Starbucks. So I don't go to some place where I'll be tempted to splurge both on extra calories and money! Report
Oh good to know about the "short" size at Starbucks! Sometimes I just want a little sweet treat. I end up getting a tall and not drinking it all (then feel bad about wasting money, food, etc.) I am bad because I like my coffee with full fat cream (don't like the chemicals in the fat free stuff) but only a little sugar. My morning coffee ends up being around 80 calories for 16 oz. but I just make sure it fits into my nutrition. If I'm drinking coffee in the afternoon, it must be a bad day! Report
Love Panera Bread 1/2 dark 1/2 light roast and take it with 2% or skim milk. One cup per day is my goal with an occasional extra cup in the evening. Maybe once per month. Report
Thankfully, I'm a coffee snob, so I only have my own coffee and no cream/milk. :) Report
I always drink straight tea or black coffee, even when I go out. In part it was for the reduced cals, but it's also the way I like it. Report
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