Monday, June 6, 2011

Your "Refreshing" Iced Coffee May Be a Meal in Disguise

It's finally hot outside (hurray!!) and it seems that everywhere you look, people are cooling off with refreshing beverages, notably iced coffees. Those Tim Horton's Iced Capps are more tempting than ever and McDonald's are offering specials on all of their cold drinks all summer long, including their iced coffees. But if you think an iced coffee is just as innocent as a hot brewed one, you may be sadly mistaken. In fact, it might be better to just go for an ice cream or a cheeseburger! Here's why.

On it's own (black), coffee has a negligible amount of calories - it's fair to say it has zero - and no fat. The trouble is that most people don't enjoy black coffee and find their own way to tweak the normally healthy brew with additives like sweeteners and whiteners. You may not be aware, but just two tablespoons (about the size of your whole thumb) of half and half cream contains 40 calories and 3.5g of fat; 2 of which are saturated. Just one level teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories and honey has about 30. Go for a medium Timmies double double and you're looking at 155 calories and 10.5g fat! That's an astonishing departure from zero calories and zero fat! The same goes for the iced stuff, but it gets even worse.

Just one medium original Iced Capp at Timmies has 360 calories, 15g of fat and 48g of carbs!! To make it a little clearer - you'd have to have a medium hot coffee with 4 creams and 5 sugars to almost get the same result. A McDonald's cheeseburger (300 calories, 12g fat, 7g sugar) might be considered a healthier option.

The reason for this is that our perception of sweetness is temperature dependent - the colder the 'substance' (think: ice cream) is, the more sugar you need in order for your taste buds to detect it. While you might only need a little bit of sugar in order to taste it in a hot coffee, you'll need a lot more in a cold one.

So while an "Iced Coffee" might sound like a great, refreshing option for the summer, it may do little to help you fit into your goal outfit or that brand new bathing suit. A better idea would be to follow the same principles you would for hot coffee - get a freshly brewed coffee poured over ice and add your own whitener, preferably skim milk, and sweetener. If you like it really sweet and want to watch those pesky calories, go for a zero-calorie sweetener like splenda or a natural one like stevia, which is a natural plant extract. Be smart about it and you'll be saying 'ahhh...' both out of refreshment and to the reflection of your fit summer figure!