For ages, coffee has been a well-known weight loss tool. Everything from the healing plant compounds in the beans to the way they are brewed and the extra ingredients that get stirred into each cup play a role in this drink’s ability to promote weight loss. But our coffee habits have changed a lot in the last generation. Now there are more coffee options than ever before, and fancy orders can pile on calories without us even knowing. Unless you know the lingo, you could get saddled with a lot of calories you don’t want. That’s why we tapped Alex Moe, also known as @themacrobarista, to give us the inside scoop on how to order low calorie drinks from Dunkin’ and Starbucks.
The healthy perks of a daily coffee habit
“I can’t praise coffee enough,” says world-renowned health expert David Perlmutter MD, who confirms coffee has several health benefits. Simply drinking one cup of coffee can help you burn an extra 150 calories a day — enough to shed 16 pounds each year. But perhaps the most compelling case for coffee’s health benefits comes from two major studies spanning 16 years and involving more than a half million people spread across 10 countries. The research finds that folks with the lowest risk of dying — of any cause — are the ones who drink the most coffee. Other health benefits of a daily cup of coffee (or two!) include a lower risk developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and decreased risk of suffering from depression in women, and significant benefits for heart health.
How coffee helps with weight loss
First, the obvious: The naturally bitter flavor of coffee quells cravings. A Harvard study shows that people drinking four cups of black coffee daily reduced their appetite and lost body fat. Another small study found that coffee’s caffeine can temporarily increase calorie burn, thanks to the food’s thermogenic effect, supercharging fat burn by as much as 200 percent.
One very exciting fairly new development: Researchers have discovered that a special compound in coffee known as chlorogenic acid helps dial down inflammation, which can fuel weight gain and offers a host of health ailments. Coffee also contains lignans, which have antioxidant properties and can repair cells so they function at their peak.
What’s more: A study in the journal Nutrients found habitual coffee consumption is linked with a 35% lower risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. That’s good news, since keeping the organ that is responsible for processing toxins and dietary fat in good working order is vital when it comes to weight loss. (Click through to learn about Dr. Bob Arnot’s coffee diet for speedy weight loss.)
The Macrobarista to the rescue!
Social media is filled with health hacks and pro tips on ordering a healthier cup of coffee because the process of ordering coffee at the big chains can be so confusing. They’ve each got a special lingo all their own! One of the most popular experts, Alex Moe, also known as @themacrobarista, educates his 1.2 million Instagram followers to use his tricks to cut fat, carbs and calories from drinks. And while we all know a black coffee or coffee with skim milk is a smart choice, sometimes we want a bit more flavor in our coffee.
“My goal,” says Moe, “is to help you be able to enjoy your favorite flavored coffees without having to kill your macros.” (“Macro” is short for macronutrient. There are three categories of nutrients you eat the most and provide you with most of your energy: protein, carbohydrates and fats. So when you’re counting your macros, you’re counting the grams of proteins, carbs or fat that you’re consuming.) This is how Moe recommends you order to guarantee a low-calorie and low macro drink at Dunkin and Starbucks.
How to order a low-cal flavored coffee at Dunkin
For a hot drink, say “I’d like a medium coffee with skim milk and a hazelnut shot.” This will get you a Dunkin’ Donuts Medium Coffee (14 oz) with skim milk and little hazelnut flavor. The macros turn out to be 25 calories, 2 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein. Compare that Dunkin’s Caramel Swirl Hot Latte, which has 45 grams of sugar and 350 calories! Don’t like hazelnut? Dunkin’ also offers vanilla, toasted almond, blueberry, raspberry and coconut shots. Take your pick and enjoy guilt free!
Just be sure you order a “shot” and not a “swirl.” Dunkin’s “shots” add only 5 to 10 calories to your sip; swirls add 150 to 160 calories (that’s 30 times the calories!) and a whole lot of sugar. With a shot, you get delicious flavor — without syrups that can add 18 or more grams of sugar to your drink.
For a cold drink, say “I’d like a medium iced coffee with coconut milk and 1 coconut shot.” This will get you a 15-calorie sip bursting with tropical flavor with 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein. This blend is infused with a sugar-free coconut extract that delivers sweetness without the extra calories. Compare that to Dunkin’s medium Frozen Vanilla Chai, that has 113 grams of sugar and 600 calories!
Click through for more low calorie Dunkin drinks from the Marcrobarista or check out this genius Dunkin’ Calorie Calculator to build your own low calorie Dunkin coffee!
How to order a low-cal flavored coffee at Starbucks
For a hot drink, say “I’d like a Grande coffee with sugar-free vanilla flavor syrup and a splash of 2% milk.” This will get you a creamy, flavored drink with just 25 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein. Compare this to Starbucks Grande Caramel Macchiato, which has 250 calories and a whopping 33 grams of sugar.
For a cold drink: Bring your own “skinny” syrup to the coffee shop to save calories and money. Moe shares a low-carb version of a caramel coffee drink that recently went viral on Tiktok and Instagram. His advice: Buy a bottle of Skinny Mixes (Buy at Target, $4.99 for a 12.7-oz. bottle) naturally sweetened syrup in the flavor salted caramel. (Click through to learn how to make your own skinny syrup.) Then, at the coffee counter, ask for a Grande Cold Brew with a splash of half and half. Then add 1 to 2 Tbs. of the skinny syrup to your coffee. According to Moe’s calculations, this easily customizable coffee order has no sugar and just 35 calories! And it’s so easy, especially at locations where Starbucks is inside the Target store!
Click through for more low calorie Starbucks drinks from the Macrobarista or, to customize your Starbucks order, check out this Starbucks calorie calculator.
For more on how coffee can help you lose weight:
Women Over 50 Are Going Crazy for Protein Coffee — And Weight Loss Is Only One Reason
Love Those Coffee Drinks Made With Skinny Syrups? Here’s How to Enjoy Them for Less
The Ultimate Coffee Diet: Not Just an Urban Legend, It Really Works