Then came the Internet, the Great Recession and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Now, going to a local coffee shop is an everyday occurrence. And for some of us who have gone back to school, work from home or have been laid off, it’s more like an all-day affair. That makes picking the healthiest coffee shop fare of the utmost importance—especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
To help you reach your goal weight, we’ve put together this trusty healthy coffee shop guide. From Starbucks and Dunkin’ to your local neighborhood shop, it’s sure to keep you on track no matter where you find yourself sipping and snacking.
Egg and Cheese It
An egg and cheese sandwich will usually come in at under 400 calories no matter where you go. Plus, the protein hit helps temper your appetite as the day wears on.
Go Cold Brewed
When regular brewed coffee is chilled and stored, two things happen: First, it begins to lose whatever nuance of taste it once possessed; second, it starts losing the polyphenols that give coffee its health benefits. The best iced coffee is cold brewed; it takes more time to make so it will be more expensive, but you’ll taste the difference. Most notably it will be less bitter, which means you can get away with adding less sugar. And less sugar = fewer calories.
Leave the Scone Alone
The great buttery, flaky taste that makes a scone so appealing comes from gobs of butter, flour and sugar. With up to 500 calories a pop, this pastry is better left behind the glass.
Listen For The Grind
If you drink it every day, you may as well get the most health-boosting benefits out of your cup as you can. One of the best ways to do it: Place your order soon after they grind and brew the beans. Coffee is most Americans’ number one source of polyphenols—the weight-lowering micronutrients that make the Mediterranean diet so effective.
If you typically order a flavored latte, slowly wean yourself off the sweet stuff by asking for fewer flavor pumps and adding fewer sugar packets to your cup. Eventually you’ll be able to make the jump to plain lattes or an Americano, which is basically an espresso mixed with water. The drink tastes similar to a regular cup of coffee, but with even greater health benefits since it’s higher in polyphenols than regular brew.
Hold the Whip
Use this phrase whenever you order a “fancy” drink (like a cafe mocha or a Frapp) that you think may have even the slightest possibility of coming with the fat- and sugar-laden add-on. It will save you anywhere from 50 to 110 calories depending on what size you get.
Ban Bran Muffins
One of the great health food imposters, bran muffins are simply excuses to get you to eat cupcakes for breakfast. Each can deliver about 440 calories, with nearly a quarter of them coming from fat. Pair it with a cappuccino and you’ll have blown through a quarter of the day’s calories before noon.
Don’t Consider a Croissant
They look innocent enough, but depending on which type you get—chocolate, almond, or good ol’ vanilla— this flakey, buttery crescent-shaped treat could cost you anywhere between 260 and 380 calories and half the day’s fat. Skip it and go for a slimmed-down alternative like a marshmallow bar or a cup of warm oatmeal.
Sideline the Cream Cheese
Coffee shops tend to smear more cream cheese on their bagels than you would at home, which turns a nutritionally-lacking but not diet-blowing 300-calorie breakfast into a 500-calorie monstrosity filled with 20 grams of fat. If you must get a bagel, ask for some cream cheese on the side and spread it on yourself nice and thin, or, better yet, skip the cream cheese all together.