The Worst Coffee Habits for a Flat Belly, Say Experts
Coffee has a way of filtering itself into a person's morning routine until it becomes a habit. And, for many, "habit" may not even be a bold enough word. Call it what you will—ritual, dependency, obsession—a borderline-caffeine-addiction is widely considered manageable, if not beneficial. Several studies (perhaps conducted by hopeful coffee lovers) point to ways in which java can be healthy. As we've reported in the past, coffee may help you live longer, give you better vision, even boost your metabolism.
"Caffeine can improve weight loss efforts," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD. "Coffee can be beneficial by providing the body with antioxidants, acting as a diuretic, and improving bowel movements in those with digestive issues. It can also help increase energy which is a necessary factor in exercise, which can lead to weight loss."
But those potential health perks hinge entirely on how you take your cup of Joe.
We're not here to wax poetic about right and wrong ways to consume coffee; if you have an affinity for indulging in funnel-cake-flavored frappuccinos, who are we to stop you? However, if you're looking to coffee for weight loss benefits, you may want to be mindful of how you take it. We spoke with a couple of our favorite dietitians and found out the worst coffee habits to avoid when making coffee for a flat stomach.
Coffee itself is naturally antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory, but adding sugar negates those inherent positives. An over-sugared coffee becomes inflammatory, and the nutritional deficits of the added sweetness quickly outweigh any of the benefits the caffeine may offer. Plus, as Clara Lawson, RDN, explains, the amount of coffee many Americans drink in a day would easily result in maxing out recommended sugar intakes, if that coffee is too sweet.
"Women should stick to 6 teaspoons of sugar and men should stick to 9 teaspoons in a day to maintain a healthy body weight and prevent diseases," says Lawson. "So if you are drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee along with artificial sweeteners, you are ruining your body to a great extent."
The solution here? If you don't want to sacrifice adding sugar to your coffee, just be mindful of your sugar intake beyond the java habit.
Adding other "fancy ingredients"
If you're committed to the frap life (say, for example, the aforementioned funnel cake Allstar is calling your name) that's okay, but you cannot depend on your cup of coffee to lead you to a flat stomach.
"Fancy forms of coffee such as lattes and mochas have a very high sugar content that can exceed your daily required calorie count," explains Lawson. "The fancy ingredients that are worst for your belly include high sugar, whipped cream, and chocolate syrups."
Luckily, though, Lawson has an easy fix.
"For a leaner stomach, it is advised to make your coffee at home so that you can avoid all these fancy ingredients that are eventually going to accumulate and increase your waistline," she says.
You can also try making healthier versions of your favorites at home with these 12 Tastiest Homemade Coffee Drinks From a Nutritionist.
Coffee, the way we currently consume it, is so inextricable from cream and sugar that one is rarely offered without the other. But in the same way sugar can mess with your ever-emerging abs, creamers will likely do the same.
"By adding high calorie and fat creamers you are increasing the likelihood of your regular coffee beverage causing weight gain," said Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD.
Beyond just packing on the calories, many popular creamers use questionable ingredients, which takes a fairly natural beverage—coffee—and turns it into a more artificial, and therefore less healthy, drink.
To wean yourself off of creamer, you could start by substituting it for milk.
"Taking coffee with skim or whole milk only adds up to around 30 to 40 calories, whereas taking it with creamer gives you around 120 calories," says Lawson.
Or you could even swap it out with one of these 12 Healthy New Coffee Creamers on Shelves.
Only drinking sweetened/flavored coffee
The more you drink sweetened and flavored coffee, the more that sugary and dimensional flavor profile will become a part of your morning habit. As Best explains, "the worst coffee habit for weight loss and obtaining a flat belly is relying on sweet and flavored coffee."
If you can't drink coffee without flavor or sugar, you may be at extra risk of undoing your other hard work in the kitchen and the gym.
"These extra ingredients are only serving to increase calories and fat," says Best. "It is best to opt for black coffee or naturally sweetened varieties."
One natural sweetener that we're particularly fond of, which may also help flatten your stomach even further, is cinnamon. Give it a try next time you brew a pot.
Pairing coffee with dessert
This popular after-dinner duo is fairly iconic, but unfortunately not that healthy. In the same way relying on coffee with cream and sugar forms poor habits, allowing your brain to associate coffee with sugary snacks could be detrimental to your pursuit of a flat stomach.
"While pairing your coffee with some pastry or other dessert doesn't harm your flat belly if you do it occasionally, if it is something that you do frequently, it's one of the worst things you can do to your belly," says Lawson.
The most failsafe way to avoid these weight-gain risks, of course, is to make the switch to black coffee and to drink it alongside other nutritional foods.
Not a fan of straight-up java yet? Check out our piece, When It Comes to Coffee, This Is the Only Way You Should Make It, for tips on how to make black coffee more palatable. Then, be sure to sign up for our newsletter for even more healthy tips!