Iced coffee calories

icedcoffee2Don’t let iced coffee calories ruin your summer.

Iced coffee used to be simple.  Pour left-over brewed coffee over ice and add sugar and/or milk to taste.  Does anyone do that anymore?  Most people depend on restaurants or coffee shops to make their iced coffee now, and the sky’s the limit on flavors, sizes and add-ins.   As a result, the sky’s the limit on calories.  While the simple old-style iced coffee might hit 50 calories, you can now get almost 600 calories from a Venti Caramel Ribbon Crunch Creme Frappuccino.   Not a drink that any dieter needs to consume on a regular basis.

Coffee by itself has practically zero calories.  So if you’re a fan of plain black coffee or plain espresso over ice, you’re in luck in the calorie control department.   Adding plain milk, soy milk or half and half does add calories, but not not that many.  The real problems come from whipped cream, sugar and other sweeteners, flavor syrups, chocolate, caramel and ice cream.  And of course, the larger the portion, the more calories.

Bottled coffee drinks have calories listed on the nutrition facts panel, so it’s at least easy to check calories.  What’s hard is finding a bottled coffee that doesn’t have added sweetener.  A simple bottled Coffee Frappuccino is almost 300 calories.  Calories may look lower in some similar products, but check that label.  It may say one bottle has 2 “servings” — a sneaky way to make the calories look lower.  Take Away Message: when buying bottled iced coffee drinks (or iced tea drinks), check the number of servings as well as the calories.

You can usually find calorie information for drinks from chain restaurants on the website, if not at the restaurant.  Some, like Starbucks and McDonald’s, let you customize your drinks, and the calories are re-calculated with ingredient changes.  McDonald’s Iced Coffee can be as simple as coffee, ice and cream — 50 calories for a Small size.  But change that to Large and add sugar and you’ve got almost 300 calories.  Or change it to an Iced Mocha and even the small size is almost 300 calories.

I love the flavor of espresso, so my Go-To summer coffee drink (in photo) is 2 shots of espresso over ice, with added half and half, maybe a dash of milk as well.  No sweeteners or flavor syrups.  It might be 20-40 calories depending on how much half and half is used.  Simple, not a lot of calories, no added sugar and a rich satisfying flavor.  I also adore Vietnamese coffee on rare occasions: put 2 TB of sweetened condensed mil in a glass, pour 2 shots of espresso over and add ice; stir gently to combine the milk and coffee.  It’s a 120 calorie treat.

Calorie range of iced coffees:

  1. Lowest calories (0): plain coffee or espresso poured over ice.
  2. 20 to 50 calorie range: plain iced coffee or espresso with added milk.  Half and half is slightly more calories. 20-50 calories
  3. 100 to 200 range: coffee with milk or half and half and added sugar (or agave or honey or brown sugar or any other caloric sweetener)
  4. 250+ range: add flavor syrups, whipped cream and larger portions

Best Advice for Controlling iced coffee calories:

  • small sizes
  • no whipped cream or syrups
  • no added sugar would be ideal.  If you must, ask for unsweetened and add your own small amount of sugar.
  • to quench thirst, drink water
  • artificial sweeteners will not add calories.  I don’t ever recommend them, but some people can’t manage without.
  • If a large blended sweetened coffee drink is a welcome treat, have just one a month and cut back calories at lunch or dinner.
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